September 7, 2008
East Village Radio Fest w/Boris, KRS-One, Aa, and others @ Fulton Street Seaport
So Percussion @ Le Poisson Rouge
When I made my tardy arrival I was hoping the hip-hop act on stage was Devin the Dude who I had been looking forward to seeing. Alas, it was KRS-One. At first it was all right. He was doing some song with a chorus that involved shouting "Fuck Yeah!" and I could get into that. But soon it became way too conscious for me. His sidekick came on-stage and engaged in a very lengthy poetry slam-style tirade about presidential politics. My first reaction was, "Cool. They're talking about some issues to the kids. Using their pulpit to raise consciousness." But it just kept going and going. And it wasn't particularly clever or entertaining even. Just your typical blowhard stuff. I got tired of being condescended to and yelled at all at the same time, and realized that Aa, who I would have rather been seeing anyway, were playing on the side stage.
I'd been meaning to catch Aa for quite some time. The festival's second stage was in a cool gallery space. They were appealing but I wasn't really grabbed by what they were playing. Aa's sound is built on percussion, and so I wanted the music to be much more aggressive than it was. I'm not sure they've fully harnessed their powers as a band but all in due time.
Boris scorched the crowd with their sludge-filled psychedelic metal, as per usual. It was kind of interesting to see them in the context of a free outdoor show where the audience is much more diverse than their typical shows that are filled with hardcore fans who know what to expect. I wonder if Takeshi ever gets tired of jumping into the audience and crowd-surfing at every show.
After the East Village Radio fest I headed over to Le Poisson Rouge to see So Percussion who had seriously impressed me with their stunning set of meticulously complex rhythmic synchronicity at this year's Bang On A Can marathon. This show turned out to be a much different concept than the set they played at the marathon, which was more academic and classical in nature. At this show, they seemed to be working out a different identity as a rock band in the vein of Tortoise. But for a group that's already demonstrated their impressive grasp on playing incredibly demanding music, they weren't able to transfer that discipline into this new context, and it just sounded sloppy and ill-conceived. Maybe the sloppiness was an affectation to embody their vision of what rocking out sounds like, a concept on which their grasp seemed to be somewhat shaky. Afterwards, a laptop musician took the stage playing some very loud electronic beat-laden music. But I had to go home. My head had heard enough music for one weekend.
More photos of Boris from the East Village Radio Festival at Brooklyn Vegan.