Located an hour and 15 minutes southeast of Columbus, Ohio, in Athens, Number Fest (or stylized as #Fest) is a brilliant mix of top shelf rap/EDM talent and a crowd that, on any given afternoon, matches the size of the college town that surrounds it.

2017’s 15th edition was no different. Typically a more balanced two-day venture between hip-hop and electronic music, this weekend's lineup received more national attention for its heavy-hitting Atlanta showcase, featuring the likes of Young Thug, Migos, 21 Savage, Lil Yachty and Waka Flocka Flame.

Billed as the nation’s largest college music festival (typically bringing in over 20,000 heads from around the state/surrounding region), #Fest gave music fans an early festival season preview. It also encapsulated a lot of the hits festival goers hear on the daily.

Friday was a lighter affair as Waka Flocka was the only one with hip-hop stature gracing the stage. Preceded by EDM acts Crankdat and Herobust, Waka brought out a lot of his previous material, as he hasn’t dropped a new project in over a year. I don’t care what anyone says “50 K” and “Hard In The Paint” go hard in any setting.

Saturday’s main acts began with Lil Yachty hitting the Main Stage at around 4:45 pm. Perhaps more notable than the hits he performed was his outlandish behavior. Yachty hopped off his figurative boat midway through his set, running into the crowd and getting lost among fans (hard to do too, considering he’s still rocking those bright red braids). He would also be a part of the next two hip-hop acts by passing out peanut butter and jelly sandwiches during 21 Savage’s set and drinking an entire gallon of Hawaiian Punch while eating cereal on top of the DJ booth behind Migos while they were performing.

As expected, the now self-proclaimed “King Boat” trotted out the songs that made him initially famous. Lil Boat classics like “Minnesota” and “Wanna Be Us” grabbed the audience’s attention while Yachty simultaneously danced to and performed the tracks. The crowd’s biggest commotion came when he rounded out his set with his newest smash “Peek A Boo” and ended with his sing-a-long favorite, “One Night.”

Next up was 21 Savage, who, while performing the hits fans came to hear, seemed a little sluggish in his execution. Perhaps it’s consistent with his deep, mono-tone lyrical delivery. Regardless, the crowd was feeling the consistent roll out of tracks from his 2016 mega hit LP, Savage Mode.

Nearly all of Young Savage’s set consisted of his official debut. “No Heart,” “No Advance,” “X,” and “Savage Mode” got everyone the most lit. “Red Opps” also created an uproar. Overall, 21’s nearly 45 minutes on stage was a little underwhelming. As one of the newer acts out of the group of ATLiens present, it’s possible that he hasn’t found his performing schtick yet. Definitely looking forward to seeing him grow his set in the coming years.

In stark contrast, and after an EDM intermission of Louis The Child, Migos ran out to a now fully-packed 15Fest at approximately 8 pm. Appropriately, they bolted onstage to the intro and DJ Khaled-assisted title track of their newest LP, Culture. The crowd was immediately turned up as it became evident they were there to see the Atlanta trio. Similar to 21 Savage, Migos’ set was majority-laden with their 2017 masterpiece.

“T-Shirt,” “Slippery” and “Get Right Witcha” all had fans rapping along word-for-word. Disappointingly, they cut off “Brown Paper Bag” halfway through, personally having me shedding a tear. Otherwise, their set was an enormous upgrade from when I saw them in 2014, when they were opening for Yo Gotti and Juicy J in Columbus. Time’s certainly have changed.

It wasn’t all Culture though. Offset, Quavo and Takeoff decided to take everyone back in time and play classics from previous projects. “Hannah Montana” and “Versace” had the audience reminiscing on how far the group’s come since their musical beginnings.

As the pretty beefy and nearly hour-long set continued without a beat, the anticipation began to build for the night’s climax. Watching from just behind the stage, I whispered to a nearby friend, “When they play ‘Bad and Boujee,’ this place is going to explode.”

And that’s exactly what happened.

While not the last song of their night, Migos’ Billboard chart-topping hit had everyone screaming as soon as the DJ dropped the instrumentals. It was lit. Perhaps the most it’s ever been in my six years of covering the annual fest.

Interestingly, Migos closed with a freestyle cypher where Quavo and Offset each rapped a couple 16s. Even their off-the-dome bars had live ad-libs. Honestly, had the full set been just random ad-libs, it would’ve almost been worth the price of admission.

Finally (as far as hip-hop goes), Young Thug hit the stage at around 9 pm. His set would be a culmination of tracks from across his catalog.

A significant portion came from 2016’s mega album Jeffery. From that, he played what you’d expect. “Wyclef Jean,” “Floyd Mayweather,” and “Kanye West” all made it into the hour-long performance. Also refreshing to hear were classic club bangers “Stoner” and “Danny Glover,” which the crowd seemed to be more familiar with.

The highlight of Thugga’s set was when he brought out Quavo for “Pick Up the Phone,” which got the crowd, now surrounded by darkness, hype. He would closeout his set with the 2015 smash, “Best Friend.”

Overall, Number Fest’s 15th edition was perhaps its most lit. The Atlanta showcase was a nice change of pace for a festival that in the past has featured headliners like Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Fetty Wap, but presented a little more cohesion with who they booked. It’s proof positive that #Fest’s growth is ever-present and continual as they look to expand.

See Photos of Migos, Young Thug, 21 Savage and More Performing at 2017 Number Fest

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