Every year, the Summer Smash seems to get bigger, better, and more insane than ever before, and 2022 is definitely no exception. Unfortunately, I missed the first year or two because of one reason or another, so 2021 was actually my first time experiencing this event live and in person. At the same time, though, I had been to various other concerts hosted by LL dating all the way back to Lil Uzi Vert’s first-ever Chicago performance way back in April of 2016, so I know how we throw down at live events, and I also know just how loyal, supportive, and turnt up our fans get every chance they get.
2022 had some curveballs thrown at the team including a detrimental storm that almost paused the entire festival, but thanks to the consistently hard-working and ride-or-die group of individuals who put this fest together, the show went on without a hitch! I just want to clarify that this article is solely based on my own experience and not from the point of view of anybody else. I know this isn’t the typical article I may normally write, but I figured it would be a good stroll down memory lane for this year’s attendees while also letting those who missed out know that this is seriously the only place you want to be in the entire world every summer.
Sunday was by far the most bittersweet day for me. I was absolutely elated about the lineup that day, but I knew that come 10 pm, the festival would close its gate until next year. I had so much fun, I just didn’t want it to come to an end, but that sadness could wait until after Playboi Carti’s set that night. We managed to get there a little bit earlier luckily, showing up around 3:30 in order to catch GloUpJake’s insane birthday DJ set. He always pulls out the stops, but he did it up more than ever it seemed that day, so happy birthday indeed Jake!
I knew today was going to be busy if we wanted to get to most of the musicians on the lineup, so we wasted no time getting to Lenny’s Tent Stage in order to catch some of the underground star Pollari’s performance, and although it might not have had fans filling out the entire tent, those who were there knew every single word and sang right along, making it feel almost as if we were in a stadium. Rushing to the SPKRBX Stage, we needed to see Famous Dex because he is one of the most notorious personalities in the entire history of Chi-Town music, and although this wasn’t my first time experiencing him live by any means, he never fails to put on an extraordinary show.
Hopping right back to the Tent Stage, I was thrilled to see the DCG Brothers tear down the house in a performance that felt nostalgic while also filling the atmosphere with charisma and exuberance, the only way these two local stars do know how. Some other people in my group were just showing up, so we headed over to the guest area to meet up with them, missing out on a spot for Flo Milli who seemed to perform her heart out across the field prior to Oliver Tree hitting the stage with vigor. I honestly don’t listen to him a ton, although I do love his internet presence and enjoy the music I’ve heard, the way he was able to include little skits, scooter tricks, and other bits into his set made this one of the most out of the box portions of the whole weekend.
Not knowing who the special guest had caused us to stay put at the Lyrical Lemonade Stage, and while rumors were flying around of potential possibilities, Cordae ended up coming out as the first guest. He was dope, but I was beyond excited to see Yeat right after him and man did he not disappoint. I had seen him once already a few months back at his Lyrical Lemonade performance at the Concord Music Hall, and while I felt like there was a bit more that he could’ve done at that concert, I knew it was one of his first-ever shows, so I was hoping he has brushed up by now. After seeing his routine, I was blown away by how far he has come in just a few short months. Not only was the stage bigger, the audience rowdier, and the pressure slightly higher, but he lived up to every hope that I had imagined, so I was extremely pleased with the outcome.
$NOT was someone who I have seen multiple times, making it more and more obvious why I needed to see him again with the type of shows he puts together, so although I was disappointed to miss Ken Car$on, I have no regrets thanks to $NOT putting his all into every aspect of his musical appearances. We rushed back to the Lyrical Lemonade Stage to see the second special guest, but Lil Yachty took the stage instead. While I was excited to see him perform after, I was confused as to why no one came out before him, and I wondered if there was something going on.
Nonetheless, Lil Boat showed up to entertain, giving a performance that I personally felt was a lot stronger than last year, but his time wasn’t over yet. He pulled Cole out on stage, handed him a mic, and let him speak. In turn, Cole expressed to the audience the fact that he promised a special guest before wasting no time introducing Quavo and Takeoff out on stage for a brief yet absolutely magnificent act that I don’t think anyone was expecting, as well as something that no one is going to be quick to forget.
Wanting to get good spots for Carti, we watched 2 Chainz from afar as he put on an all-out clinic of hits that he has created over the years from solo records to guest verses on chart-topping singles, and I kind of wish we made our way a little closer, but once Carti came out, I knew we made the right choice to stay back. When he took the stage, he ascended to the top of a pyramid-looking prop that seemed to almost reach the rafters at the top of the entire setup.
He actually remained there for about the first half of the set as strobe lights and wild beams radiated out into the crowd, but I think one of the most interesting parts was the fact that he has a live guitarist with him who was absolutely shredding during each hit that was played. Even for his earlier, more playful tracks, the guitar would ring out over the speakers before quieting down for the bubbly, baby voice version of Carti that we all fell in love with from the jump.
Without it really sinking in for anyone, the last performance of the weekend was over, the lights turned on, and the crowd of people poured out into the streets of Chicago, vanishing into various shadows, venturing down streets, and escaping into alleys to figure out how they’re going to get home. Meanwhile, I was as close to despondent as ever because I wasn’t only exhausted, but I was truly sad that the weekend I had been looking forward to for so long came to an end in what felt like a heartbeat. I know that all good things have to come to an end, but this year’s Summer Smash was just so unexplainably great that I wished it could go on for an entire week, regardless of my mental and physical exhaustion. All I am doing is just giving myself a constant reminder that we do it up right at Lyrical Lemonade, and next year will hopefully be here before we know it!
Missed out on my Friday and Saturday recaps? Don’t Worry! Tomorrow I’ll be putting out a final, all-encompassing article including each day’s recap as well as a little sentiment at the end, so make sure you don’t miss out!