The month-long series of concerts and lectures presented by Red Bull Music Academy came to a bombastic climax last night at Webster Hall. The prolific and generally obscure electronic producer Hudson Mohawke headlined the show with a handful of surprise guest rappers and vocalists in support of his forthcoming record on Warp Records.
Commencing the night was a 90-minute DJ set by the Spainish producer Mwëslee, whose original material is closely aligned with Hudson Mohawke’s angular, rampant productions. This live set though was calm, cold and calculated. Shifting slyly through disparate genres, the last part of his set was sustained by protracted synths and airy string textures, like the end credit score of a very dark, very somber film.
The New York-based rapper/producer Le1f followed Mwëslee shortly after. Drastically shifting moods, Le1f laid dystopian whizzes and whirs on his original beats, spitting ferocious-sounding but often muffled verses in between expertly executed choreography. The last few moments of his second number were spent twerking sternly and unapologetically for the crowd, to which he followed up with, “Sorry, dudes.” Le1f’s set, though brief and slightly bewildering, was evocative and well-received, turning a large number of HudMo fans on to the up-and-coming rapper. Le1f concluded his set with the clamorous, body-invading number Wut, joined by two synchronized backup dancers.
Hudson Mohawke began his set with serene, blue-toned noises that finally proliferated as his “Peaches and Guacamole RMX” of Björk’s “Virus.” Soon, the crowd’s excitement could hardly be contained as he performed tracks from the production duo TNGHT, like Higher Ground. HudMo’s first guest, Travis Scott, garnered the most amount of crowd response, imploring the audience to crowd surf and lose their shit. He ended the set by climbing on top of HudMo’s table of gear, ripping off his t-shirt, then jumping headfirst into the crowd.
Bodega Bamz emerged right after Scott. His performance was slightly less electric, but maintained that sense of dynamic excitement. The last guest artist was an unprecedented curve ball: the English transgender artist Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons and Hercules and Love Affair notoriety. This collaborative performance was the most disarming of the night, but not necessarily the most effective or organic. Following Antony’s appearance, HudMo returned to noisy, uproarious bangers with tracks like Cbat, Thunder Bay and a remix of Duck Sauce’s NRG.
Photos by Angel Eugenio Fraden.