Pharrell Williams’ and Chad Hugo’s NERD project started out a little hip-hop and a lot of rock. It was a resource that allowed Pharrell to dabble in stuff outside of rap and R&B that he was interested in, but over the years the rock component, which is what made the act interesting, has mostly fallen by the wayside, and Hugo was supplemented and then supplanted by rapper Shay Haley.
This is the version that headlined the Green Stage Friday night, and while they did a few NERD songs, for the most part it was a hip-hop revue, featuring “classics” by Snoop, Easy E, Beyoncé, and several by Saturday night’s headliner, Kendrick Lamar. Maybe some of these artists were produced by Williams and Hugo as the Neptunes. For sure, they also did Daft Punk’s hit, “Lucky,” which Pharrell wrote. But the only rock component was Pharrell’s continuous insistence that the crowd open up circles so that punters could make a mosh pit. He even chided security for not letting the moshing take place. “This isn’t America,” he said.
No, it’s Japan, a country Pharrell knows well, and for what it’s worth, he had the large crowd in the palm of his hand, directing the half dozen dancers as well as the whole audience to jump and boogie on cue. The guy is a consummate professional, an entertainer whose instincts are irreproachable. Who cares if he borrows some stuff?