Fool’s Gold Day Off:
French Montana, Danny Brown, Brothers Macklovitch, Just Blaze, Flosstradamus, Flatbush Zombies, Nick Catchdubs, Ricky Blaze, Party Supplies, #BEEN #TRILL, Telephoned, and more
Monday, September 3
Better than: Rain.
Last year, free shows flooded the city, with each night bringing mostly the same crowd but different publicists; an endless bacchanalia of sights and sounds and RSVP emails. Drink taps flowed like fire hoses; beautiful women instinctively flocked. Heineken served hot dogs and beer ahead of shows by Kanye (in a Brooklyn bank-turned-arena), J. Cole (at the Bowery Ballroom) and Pusha T (at Santos); they also stuck TV on the Radio (atop a downtown billboard. Bacardi had Childish Gambino in Terminal 5 and Ciara at South Street Seaport. Red Bull hosted Dipset, Black Moon, Wu-Tang, Mobb Deep and Slick Rick in their respective boroughs. Jadakiss did an entire set amongst shoppers at the Apple Store in June; a few months later, Nike gave Nas a microphone while Carmelo Anthony holograms seemingly exploded out of the Hudson. 2012, in comparison, has been… quiet, don’t-wake-the-baby level quiet.
It’d be easy to say that Fool’s Gold Day Off—the cool-kid record label’s third annual Labor Day party—got so overcrowded because of the lack of competition; all work and no play makes Homer something something. But, for hours, lines six deep wound around the block from all three entrances, and—for the second year in a row—the fences proved no match for bum-rushers. When the sound went out for the third time over the course of the afternoon, widespread chants of “Free Max B” rose up; no audible booing. As silence played from the speakers, usually disaffected teens still clamored for t-shirts thrown out from the stage, climbing on one another’s shoulders. It’s a testament to the brand that DJs A-Trak and Nick Catchdubs have built from the ground up over the past few years. Their fingers manage to both feed and take the pulse; their Day Off concerts are a trade show selling everything cool next year. When the cops burst through the curtains backstage, they supposedly sent a collection of Hypebeast-worthy artists running: French Montana, A$APs Rocky et la Mob, Flatbush Zombies, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Diplo, Theophilus London, others. Only half were announced as being on the bill. The perma-drugged Danny Brown probably would’ve been advised to run, had he not been onstage with Just Blaze.
As an event, this year’s edition was plagued with problems: crowd control; overloaded speaker systems; #Been #Trill. (The last of that list is a four-man DJ collective or something led by Kanye’s stylist, Virgil Abloh, who manhandled his MPC in such an ungodly way I wished he would stop. Moments later, the sound cut out.) But there were highlights: Flatbush Zombies brought out A$AP Rocky and A$AP Ant for “Bath Salt,” a growling grumbler of underworld voices and underground production; as a song, it’s seething though underwhelming. As a performance, it’s all flailing limbs, the “Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Can See” video come to life; it made up for an otherwise messy set. Flosstradamus, the imaginative MacBook duo straight out of Chicago, blended Lana Del Rey into the sound of a trap lord’s cutting scissors into “Bands Make Her Dance,” the rap banger of the moment. (It should be noted that Juicy J, at one point left for dead, headlined Day Off last year.) Party Supplies was endlessly watchable, noodling on his guitar while wearing chunky headphones, red shirt and tight jeans—like Big meets Bruce Springsteen meets Brooklyn coffee. For the final song of the afternoon, Danny Brown, the power already cut to Just Blaze’s computer, pushed “Head for Free” out from his calves like his tongue through his teeth, spitting out the filthiest lyrics a capella. (EX: “Bitch, show me what that mouth do” is not a great pick-up line, but it is a fun way to start a conversation.)
And so it’s unfortunate that French Montana never got the chance to drone out his “dawwwwwwwg”-s and his cover of “Return of the Mac”; that Danny Brown’s set was cut short. Just as the wheels were starting to get back on the track, the police shut it down. (Not for no reason: it was unbearably crowded, a crush of kids jumping over all barriers to get closer to the stage.) Maybe next year, more security will come into fashion.
Critical bias: According to Spotify, French Montana is my most-played artist. So, yes, I was looking forward to fanuting the coupe.
Overheard: “Ladies and gentlemen, you need to move on.”—Police officer, on a bullhorn, in the street.
Overheard II: “The cops are shutting us down right now. This is something I hate to do. Please just leave immediately. They’re about to… I don’t know. Fuck it. I’m gonna give some shirts away.”—A-Trak
Overheard (official statements edition): “When we do a Fool’s Gold event we try to put together these lineups that are even better than most paid shows. Fool’s Gold always wants to give you something memorable. This was a free event to bring together our community of fans and friends to celebrate the end of the summer, and the turnout was huge. Too huge, even. Cops eventually shut it down an hour before the end, but we were actually dealing with them for almost two hours leading up to that. I’m just glad we were able to keep the event afloat for that long, and that everyone stayed peaceful and positive all throughout. A bunch of kids rushed one of the fences about halfway through the afternoon. People snuck into the backstage area in large numbers. Cops initially cleared out our backstage, and eventually forced us to shut everything down. We all would have loved to see French perform, but aside from that I still think it was beautiful to see all these people come together in downtown New York and enjoy some great music and entertainment. We’ll be back soon!”—A-Trak
Overheard II (official statements edition): “We’ve been coming out of pocket to throw FREE parties for our fans in NYC for 5 years now. They’ve all been crazy and memorable and unpredictable in their own way and this is no exception. We’re not the first party to have gate crashers nor the first to have police pull the plug—the important thing to take away is that they did it with everyone’s safety in mind, which is what everyone working for the venue and for Fool’s Gold is most concerned about anyway. Save for one missing hour, it was a day of great music and turnt up performances, a whole bunch of friends ending the summer together. We’ll definitely have more to come…”—Nick Catchdubs
Random notebook dump: The crowd was fashionable: one girl wore Da Brat-style braids and an Adidas jumpsuit, looking straight out of 1997; I saw lot of hockey jerseys (including one for a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie) and at least one generic Nike piece I remember having in middle school. Also spotted: Forward-facing bandanas, a la Tupac, paired with John Lennon glasses and otherwise not-Tupac-looking garb.