Gang Gang Dance (DJ Set) w/ Lunice, Miracles Club, Laurel Halo
Saturday, July 23
Better than: Your average art-museum function.
Most show reviews you’ve been reading over the last week have probably begun with, or at least nodded towards, the extreme heat we’ve been working through. If you’re sick of this trope, I get it, but it’s an easy lede and turnover is fast on these type of blog posts. Plus, this weekend had some Weekend at Bernie’s-type heat, and most of us New Yorkers were stuck in the city without an evil boss throwing away invites to his crib in the Hamptons.
Enter the P.S. 1 Warm Up, a dance party and architecture pavilion for the casually hip. The security guards tested my patience early by forcing me to trash my water bottle—a perfectly reasonable thing to do to someone about to stand in 98-degree heat—so, fearing dehydration and unwilling to pony up for a two-dollar replacement, I spent the early party of afternoon in the galleries and in the bookstore, where I found (critical bias time) an old Tom McCarthy Bookforum article on Jaws more interesting that anything happening on stage.
That changed when Montreal DJ/producer Lunice appeared. (Odd Future’s Syd tha Kid cancelled after she missed her flight.) The 22-year-old’s set demonstrated the conflicted relationship rap artists of his generation, having grown up with the music already proclaimed dead, have with the ghost of hip-hop past; their music is continuously pulled in one direction by the capital-e Event of the genre’s Golden Age, a period of unmatchable creativity and breakthrough, and in the other by a future sound they seem to be grasping toward.
We heard, not to mention danced to, this tension about 25 minutes into Lunice’s hour-and-a-half on stage, at which point he introduced a modulated, spacey vocal sample that recalled The Jonzun Crew as much as it looked towards that aforementioned future sound. Only at this moment (and here is where the kid’s set went from good to great), both past and future dissolved into present and Young L’s 2010 “Young L-E-N” emerged from the speakers.
You can guess where things went from here—multiple Lil B and Soulja Boy cuts, some Rick Ross and plenty of 1017 Brick Squad. “No Hands” received a full reworking as the DJ experimented with throwing a variety of different drum patterns and samples, even a little Clams Casino, in with Waka, Wale and Roscoe’s respective verses.
Whereas Lunice’s work behind the tables could almost be described as curatorial, mixing and reimagining a bunch mostly familiar parts, Gang Gang Dance’s DJ set offered a thrill of discovery that seemed ripped right out of the early days of the music Lunice cherishes. Here, at last, we got to move to rhythms we’d never heard and would probably never hear again. Upon arriving home, there would be no way to Google these drum beats or foreign language raps, and, at least to an obsessive compiler like myself, there was something liberating about this. You could almost imagine the band members scratching off the labels on the CDs they were loading out of their 1998-style 4×4 binder and into the mixing system, just like in the old days.
The music running through that mixing system and out the P.S. 1 speakers featured rhythms and riddims from around the world (Were those some La Bomba de Tiempo drums we heard at one point?) as well as disco, ’80s pop and the Lunice-approved “A Milli” beat. It was loud and in your face, not to mention your arms, legs and ass, making you dance in spite of yourself and in spite of the finally receding ninety-something degree heat. Frankly, we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Critical bias: I’m also a member of Lunice’s generation.
Overheard: Plenty of trash-talking coming from the direction of the ping-pong table.
Random notebook dump: Dude wearing the Confederate flag t-shirt needs to explain himself.