Photos: Hello From Vice's Ridiculously Grandiose Creators Project Fete At Milk Studios Saturday Night, Starring M.I.A., Sleigh Bells, And The Victorious Die Antwoord
M.I.A. and Die Antwoord, respectively; you'll never guess who was better. All pics by Rebecca Smeyne, way more below.
I'm still not 100 percent sure what the Creators Project is, exactly, other than a perfectly fine excuse to cram a ton of big-shot artists (and Salem!), a few film screenings (Spike Jonze!), and multiple tremendously colorful and technologically imposing art exhibits (The xx: A Sculpture of the Album!) into multiple floors of Milk Studios Saturday, providing lucky guests with plenty of shit to point their iPhones at. Luckily our own Rebecca Smeyne has a slightly better camera. Here, a mostly visual recap of the overwhelmingly hip proceedings.
Let us begin by briefly noting the visual art, much of it enormous and elaborate and sort of mesmerizing (loved the video games, too), with the exception of the xx thing, alas, which loomed in a darkened room like a drab sort of digital Stonehenge, one member of the band per pillar. Disappointing. Plenty of other stuff to gawk at though.
There were three different live-music stages, the strangest of which was situated on a loading dock, half the crowd technically outdoors, the High Line park looming above us as we regarded Interpol (back at it, now with Dave Pajo) and Gang Gang Dance, featuring the ecstatic yelps and wicked roto-tom skillz of one Liz Bougatsos.
Right at the first floor entrance was a smaller stage featuring folks like rapidly ascendant electro-diva MNDR (yes!) and the dour electro-goth stylings of Salem, who, as you might have heard, are pretty terrible live.
The heavy action was on the second floor, starting with the reliably bonkers Sleigh Bells. No wimpy "Rill Rill"-type action this time -- just the loudest, hugest, most gloriously excessive racket you can imagine, with Alexis Krauss as your thrashing, hair-whipping dance instructor. I'm glad she does the shrieks on "A/B Machines" and "Kids" live.
But the shock of the night came from South African spazz-rap Internet sensations Die Antwoord, playing NYC for the first time, which you'd imagine would be like seeing Keyboard Cat live or something. The crowd loved them, though, and the artists currently known as Ninja and Yo-Landi proved startling adept at rocking a stage, inspiring such a frenzy with their rave-rap maelstrom that the photo pit basically imploded in a riot of crowd-surfing and general mayhem. (The good kind of riot, not the Drake kind.) At one point they left the stage to deal with a mic issue: "We're gonna come back and fuck this party in its fucking face!" Ninja thundered. Improbably, he was not joking.
M.I.A., by comparison, was a letdown. Nice wig, sure, but from a rhythmically incoherent "Born Free" (this didn't sound any better in person) to a very much welcome "U.R.A.Q.T." to a grudgingly anthemic "Paper Planes" (Maya doing a brief bit of crowd-surfing herself), it all jumbled together into a sweaty sensory-overload jumble. It was more fun to look at than to hear, in any event, and even that depended on how many people were inadvertently elbowing you in the face.
All in all a pretty righteous affair, even if parts of it left me completely bewildered.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.