Creators Project in DUMBO in pics & review — part 1 (Company Flow, John Maus, A$AP Rocky, Chairlift & more)
words & photos by BBG
Hopefully, there weren't masses that headed to DUMBO on Saturday (10/15) expecting a few Mozz-a-repa stands, a sausage & pepper cart, and a dealer selling his collection of "tobacco" pipes while looking for the live music. The Creators Project had much more to offer. It celebrated the different facets of creativity within art, music, and theater while showcasing live music alongside interactive sculpture to create a wholly different "festival" environment.
The musical portion was limited to two live stages and a third "DJ" stage which also housed a few exhibits. One live stage was located under an archway beneath the Manhattan Bridge. The other was in the "Tobacco Warehouse", a brick structure that has also hosted the Brooklyn Hip Hop Festival. The shows were free, though you needed to RSVP (and even then you needed a confirmation that you were accepted).
I kicked off my afternoon at the Tobacco Warehouse stage with Teen Daze whose laptop knob-twiddling didn't make for much of a live event. After a few songs I moved on to my first band of the day, Brooklyn's Chairlift. Caroline Polachek is the clear focus of the band's sound, with her vocals pushed to the front and the electronic-pop complementing her lilting voice. Their sunny and simple compositions were sugar-y, well executed and a good way to ease into the day, but not particularly memorable. The next performance would bring about an abrupt change.
No one outcrazys John Maus. After the crew cleared the stage of seemingly every piece of gear, the very unassuming Maus came on to plug his Roland SP-404 sampler into the DI and his microphone into an echo pedal. With the hit of his sampler, Maus kicked off his set by bouncing left and right and jumping around. Veins bulged in his neck and face as he began to scream, sing, whimper and all but cry into his microphone during his vocal parts. Even if I had no interest in his recorded material (which I do, and tons of it), I would, as I'm sure any passerby would, still find the maniacal John Maus live (almost freak) show absolutely enthralling. Catch him again this week at 285 Kent.
After 3+ songs from Clams Casino on the laptop which was about as exciting as it sounds (dramatic key-stroke!), A$AP Rocky opened his set by explaining that people are saying he is the "biggest thing to hip hop since the Wu-Tang Clan". I'd like to meet these people. Regardless of how over/correctly hyped A$AP is, he and his crew (which included an appearance from Spaceghostpurrp) were particularly high energy - stage-diving, inciting mosh-pits, and hopping around on stage. The crowd didn't move with the same enthusiasm though. Despite calls for more participation, the crew didn't ignite similar energy in the crowd.
After a visit to see Four Tet (another knob-twiddling set), I cruised over to see Bradford Cox do a one-man Atlas Sound. I prefer Atlas Sound in full band mode to Bradford solo, but his set was fresh change to the mostly electronic vibe of the day. Cox's voice coupled with the Bridge backdrop and the Manhattan skyline was particularly impressive.
It had been around 14 years since I saw Company Flow on tour with Organized Konfusion, the former celebrating their seminal Funcrusher Plus and the latter promoting what may be their final effort, The Equinox. That summer in 1997, Co-Flow sounded so alien to everything else in the era; primitive, noisy beats made with crude synths and harsh scratches were complemented by abstract and double-time rhymes. Lead by a white redhead-ed MC (a rarity in the era), Company Flow was truly unique in their time.
Company Flow were massive to me in that certain, early-backpacker Rawkus era, the blast-off point for El-P's noisy and dystopian blueprint at Definitive Jux. So it pains me to say that the primitive Company Flow sound hasn't aged so well live; El-P still has a good stage presence as always, but unfortunately the rawness of the tracks just now come across as simplistic in comparison to his sleeker production. It was good to see the crew though, and with Pharoahe Monch in tow, much like that night in DC in 1997.
After Co-Flow, I caught a bit of Florence & The Machine before calling it an evening meaning I also missed the abbreviated Justice DJ set. Though cops shut down Jusice early and a vocal minority of DUMBO residents complained about the takeover of their neighborhood streets, the complaints were minor leagues compared to the impressive spectacle that descended on art galleries, parks, storefronts, and even an archway underneath the Manhattan Bridge.
We're splitting this into multiple parts, so stay tuned for the rest. Meanwhile, more pictures of everything I saw, below...