In a recent interview, DJ Harvey told CMJ that electronic music doesn’t lend itself well to performance. You can’t sprint across stage with a DJ booth, nor can you climb up the speakers and dive into the crowd while mixing. Flying Lotus, who kicked off a three-day binge of shows in New York at Bowery Ballroom on June 20, took out the big guns from his label Brainfeeder‘s lineup, making his electro-experimental-jazz-hip-hop into an explosive stage spectacle for which Harvey would have to give him props.
Before FlyLo took the stage, Brainfeeder affiliates Teebs and Strangeloop warmed up the crowd to give audience members ample time to get sloppy on Monday night. And sloppy they got; territorial photographers got aggressive with fans drunkenly knocking into them and ruining their shots—completely unfair at a sold-out show. Teebs ended his trip-hop opening set with a bit of beatboxing before making way for the main act, who shared his stage with Thundercat on bass and Austin Peralta on keys.
If any musician has a talent for smoothly combining unlike things, it’s Flying Lotus. As easily as he is able to mèlange jazz sounds with electronic vibes and hip-hop beats, FlyLo produced a trancelike dance energy in the dense crowd that transcended the often chilled-out experience of listening to his records. With Thundercat onstage making silly faces at audience members and futuristic, robots/nature-themed visual effects projected behind him, Flying Lotus brought a far-out atmosphere to his already far-out music.
The crowd, too, was diverse, swimming with aggressive photographers, teenagers dressed in the Hundreds, unmoving couples along the staircases and dreadlocked twentysomethings lined up outside the door smoking cloves. Even at their rowdiest, however, the audience seemed to be sort of spaced-out for much of the show. Toward the end of his performance, as Flying Lotus began to take requests and amp up the dance beats, he seemed to be fighting an uphill battle to get the crowd to do a whole lot beyond waving their arms and sway-dancing. However, with an army of Brainfeeder artists—including an appearance by Bobby McFerrin‘s son Taylor—he was able to keep his stage show engaging and the audience sloppy and energetic but not too violent or obnoxious.
More photos below, all by Maverick Inman.