Rick Ross / DFA1979
One Hanson Place, the cavernous ground-floor space of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, served as the venue for a free-if-you-could-get-in Vice-sponsored concert on Thursday. As expected, the Weeknd didn't appear (he canceled the week before). Instead, the main attractions were Rick Ross, Death From Above 1979, a half dozen other bands, free beer and liquor and the Art Deco interior itself. A second stage in the basement--located inside a room-sized vault, with giant metallic doors at its entrance--featured acts like Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Anamanaguchi, Hanni El Khatib, Total Slacker and the Men. A-Trak was supposed to play, but cancelled after the sudden passing of his friend DJ Mehdi.
Tanlines kicked off the upstairs with songs that were aided by the high-vaulted ceilings and the reverb-heavy acoustics. Death from Above 1979 didn't fare as well; their songs already sound blown out and distorted on record, and the live show sacrifices any remaining fidelity for raw power. That said, both Sebastien Grainger and Jesse Keeler--one in white, one in black--put on spirited performances, thrashing around, with Sebastien at one point crawling along the bank teller windows into the crowd.
Rick Ross took the stage around 1am, after a brief intro set from Maybach Music Group rapper Stalley. The boss's set of about 35 minutes sped through songs that included "John," "9 Piece," "Hustin", "BMF", "MC Hammer," DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win" and "I'm On One," Waka's "O Let's Do It," and "Tupac Back" and "Ima Boss" (both Meek Mill's songs I think technically), at least for a chorus or two. Directly in front of the stage, where Ross' verses and exhortations were crystal clear, you could really get a sense of his imposing presence (DJ seemed genuinely afraid after starting one song too soon) and his ability to queue up any tune and make it totally his.
The amount of people upstairs was comfortable and not-overpacked; the downstairs, then, could be described as sadly under-attended. Unknown Mortal Orchestra had the benefit of playing before the main-stage acts started and sounded great. Hanni El Khatib, who played as a two-piece, shuffled out grungy, Americana-influenced rock, but to an audience of only about 50. One of the most pleasant surprise for me was Anamanaguchi, who I haven't seen in a few years. The quartet has molded themselves into an impressive instrumental outfit--with their NES as a less-dominant member--as they navigated their songs' post-rock-inspired swoops and climaxes with skill.
The Men closed the night with a post-2am set for the stragglers that hadn't yet succumbed to the hazards of the open bar. On my way downstairs I passed a handful of people doubled over, getting carried out by the EMTs. Downstairs wasn't much safer: at one point, a mic stand went flying into the crowd landing squarely on someone's head (hope you're alright dude).
More pictures from most of the night below...
Hanni El Khatib