NYU students who bemoan their university’s lack of campus or sense of community had the opportunity to bond with fellow members of the student body at Le Poisson Rouge last night, where cosmic trip-hop beat king Flying Lotus took the stage as this year’s motivational speaker. “College,” he breathed into the microphone in front of a very dense crowd of NYU students, “you could not pay me to do that shit again. Sorry.” Flying Lotus’ words of wisdom for the future of America involved input from the Wu-Tang Clan, Jay-Z, Kanye and Tyler, the Creator—if you want to know what college music is, here you go: it’s Flying Lotus mixing “Yonkers” and regularly cutting the sound to let students roar “You tell him all your problems, he’s fucking awesome with listening” and “I think I’m wasting my damn time.”
Although attendees ran a very real risk of running into their R.A. or that guy they hooked up with in the bathroom at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg last semester, and despite the fact that events sponsored by NYU’s program board are dry, it would be hard to imagine an audience more involved in FlyLo’s set than the 18-22 year-olds who chanted “Wu! Tang!” when a sample of the Clan’s started up. Even outside the dense crush, audience members were all in; imagine a kid with crutches jerking to “Yonkers.” When FlyLo asked for requests, he received a din of suggestions that he let carry on for about half a minute. “That was like, my whole discography,” he chuckled. After all, who thinks a 27-year-old is cooler than a 19-year-old thinks they are? No one. Which is why, when he told NYU that “Y’all are probably my favorite New York crowd so far,” he might have been serious.
Flying Lotus mainly unleashed tracks from his latest album Cosmogramma, starting with the same kind of abrasive video game beats as “Pickled!” and “Nose Art.” During “Do The Astral Plane,” he demonstrated the proper hand motion for the audience and orchestrated a sing-along with the song’s title, then launched into “Parisian Goldfish” from his sophomore album Los Angeles (which has the best video of all time).
He checked in a few times throughout the set as NYU’s motivational speaker to tell the students about his latest and upcoming projects with Thundercat and Erykah Badu and to introduce some unreleased material. “Don’t be hurtin’ the girls now,” the motivational speaker advised as coeds bobbed around on friends’ shoulders. “You boys play nice.”
NYU was both the show’s best asset and its biggest detriment. It was nice to see Flying Lotus mix live in a small venue to a crowd that can recognize “Zodiac Shit” from the first half a second, but at the same time horny college kids are only one (big) step above horny high school kids.
As he prepared to duck offstage before his encore, a hand flew into the air to pass FlyLo a postcard. Haltingly, the DJ read his love note aloud, which seemed to thank him for his presence on Earth and at NYU with poor grammar. Thanks were in order, as only a few hours before, the students on NYU’s program board were scrambling to reach FlyLo, whose manager had called from Britain to tell them she was going to bed, he was on a plane, and it was all up to him. But when things are up to Flying Lotus, it’s all good.