Disclosure and TNGHT
Central Park Summerstage
Better Than: Catching up on all you missed at OVO Fest.
Jessie Ware put on her sassy pants last night. Rumors had been circulating through the crowd at Disclosure’s show at Central Summerstage that the British songstress was there, and when she was ushered onstage by London-based brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence to play her part in their song “Confess to Me,” she was amped. “New York!” she screamed, bounding across the stage in a white blazer and gold hoop earrings. “I want to see you DANCE!” Hands reached up to touch her amidst the smoke machines and flashing lights, and the audience did as they were told. When the song finished, she teased, “Did you really think this wasn’t going to happen?” and launched into Disclosure’s remix of her hit “Runnin’.” For 10 minutes, she was unstoppable.
Her appearance was just one highlight in a night filled with them. Queens rappers Mobb Deep showed up for a surprise set with co-headliners TNGHT, aka Lunice x Hudson Mohawke, the ass-quaking production team best known for G.O.O.D. Music’s “Mercy”, and Disclosure invited one more guest, UK crooner Sam Smith, to tear up the vocals on set closer “Latch.” As much as it was about TNGHT’s bass blast radius of the entirety of Central Park, the night was also about how far Disclosure have come since their very first U.S. performance at Glasslands not even a year ago, especially with the release of their near-flawless debut album, Settle.
But first, TNGHT had to come as close as they could to blowing out New York Parks Department’s sound system. After having the misfortune to draw the same time slot as R. Kelly at Pitchfork Music Festival just a few weeks ago, Lunice and HudMo made the most of their time in the spotlight. The former was especially stoked, getting down from the DJ booth and dancing to cuts like “Box Chevy” by Rick Ross and Rockie Fresh’s “Panera Bread,” which they interposed on their own instrumentals like their self-titled EP’s “Gooo” or “Higher.” “We love the hip-hop culture,” Lunice added, in case there was any doubt, by way of introduction to Mobb Deep. Their arrival was well-received, but also impossible not to notice a downtick in the overall energy in the absence of TNGHT’s bowel-clearing bass.
It’s difficult to get an idea of what TNGHT are like in person from their only album, which many people also probably listen to on inferior speakers. When Lunice and HudMo throw down on a real sound system, it’s awesome, like a small atomic bomb detonating nearby that feels like you’ve swallowed car subwoofers so powerful they make your apartment building shake. It’s intense even in hour-long doses, but paired well with Disclosure’s sleeker, crisper version of music that makes people move.
The Lawrence brothers have really stepped up their live game, graduating from a few keyboards and drum pads to cymbals, a real live bass guitar–Howard picked it up after seeing Seal in concert–and visuals on a screen that include flame graphics for “When A Fire Starts to Burn” and the outline of their signature image with a mouth that moves in time to the lyrics. It was especially fitting that many people in the audience knew the words to all of Settle, which Guy happily noted at one point. His stage banter was polite and minimal (in contrast to Ware, he was more forgiving: “I know it’s early, but you can still dance”), leaving the songs to speak for themselves. With Aluna Francis’ haughty, hurt gauntlets (“If you want to get tough, then let’s play rough”) spat over Disclosure’s sparring drums and black hole of a drop, “White Noise” had the privilege of being the set’s centerpiece, so goddamn catchy it rivaled Jessie Ware’s performance even without a singer onstage. Yet those live touches, like Howard’s staccato tugs on his bass strings or Guy’s cowbell solo, provided a foil to house music’s driving disconnect between often soulful, emotional vocals and coldly precise beats.
Whether Smith showed up or not, however, I’m pretty sure all the couples making out to “Latch” would have taken it anyway.
Overheard: “It was pretty turnt up. It was a 72-hour party.” – Young, white male wearing a Dos Equis T-shirt, boat shoes with black socks, and cut-off chinos with a pattern of marijuana plants.
Critical Bias: None. Both of the artists that performed last night are inarguably, superlatively talented and experts in their field.
Random Notebook Dump: I noticed the clothing, so in no particular order, here are the most noteworthy logo T-shirts: Catskills Vs. Hamptons, Akaal Pukh Ki Fauk, Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It, Caffeine Alcohol Nicotine, and Wild Nothing.
F For U
When a Fire Starts to Burn
You & Me
Confess to Me
Help Me Lose My Mind