Amid swirling rumors that a helicopter had crashed at the original 34th Street Heliport venue, a line snaked up the block to squeeze into the newly announced accommodations for the seventh annual Fool’s Gold Day Off festival.
The rumors were in fact false, but a restless crowd can’t help but chitchat with time to kill under the beating sun, wondering what caused the pivot away from the original location and instead toward The Garden at Studio Square in Long Island City, Queens.
A Billboard interview with label-owner, producer and turntablist A-Trak would later detail the extent Fool’s Gold went to attempt to retain their original plans despite the immobilized helicopter, which was suffering under mere mechanical failure.
“We can get a f**king crane. We’ll get a truck. We can move it. You’re not allowed to apparently. We even tracked down the company that operates the helicopter and he said the same thing. There has to be FAA certified mechanics to come and handle the situation. Even then, they were like it’s not going to be moved off-site until the show. So we were like, can we build a fence around it and still do a show? They said, Nah, it’s illegal.”
Like true champions of adaptation, by just after 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 20, a new plan was in action. Emails were sent out in tandem from ticket vendors and PR announcing a new location with the same setlist. For those with a close eye on the event, A-Trak’s Twitter account was probably the best place to get an inside look.
This is why we lost our heliport. This helicopter stranded w/ mechanical prob & FAA says illegal to use venue now.?? pic.twitter.com/GD6TPp7hOz
— United Hairline (@atrak) August 20, 2016
Only in New York would you have to deal with a stranded helicopter the day of a show lol…
— United Hairline (@atrak) August 20, 2016
Inside the new venue, a packed crowd began to spread out between picnic tables and press toward the stage. By the time The Source arrived, Gaslamp Killer was perched behind the decks, delivering an exquisite array of bassy electronica-blends, peppered with his own semi-violent quips about Donald Trump and former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The Fool’s Gold Day Off emblem flashed in white pulsations behind the stage as the lineup started to pick up speed.
Fool’s Gold natives Meyhem Lauren and Leaf helped to fill out the artist roster further, tantalizing the crowd until it was time for A-Trak to take the stage. Beneath a shock of blonde hair, A-Trak is unassuming in person, but commands both the audience and a sizable portion of industry with equal influence across Hip Hop and electronic music spheres.
He put good use to the “& Friends” epithet presented on the shows promotional flyer, bringing out Brooklyn rapper Dyme-A-Duzin to perform highlights like “That Chicken,” followed by breakout artist MadeinTYO to belt out anthemic hits “I Want” and “Uber Everywhere.”
Next up, Lil Yachty stirred the crowd into a frothy, frenetic lather. He was immediately recognizable, adorned with yellow-nylon overalls beneath signature red dread-beads. His connection with a growing fan base is undeniable, though his live performance showcases an artist that’s too reliant on backing production to compensate for a lack of range on the mic.
The most successful set of the night came when Juelz Santana of the infamous Diplomats came onstage to perform indelible classics like “Hey Ma,” “Dipset Anthem,” and “Beamer, Benz, or Bentley” alongside a powerful catalog of fan-favorites. Juelz remains an active testament to some of the most memorable Hip Hop music ever created and proudly maintains this status to this day.
An audible buzz was building as Migos came onto the stage—equal parts anticipation and peripheral awareness of police and firemen as they started to edge their way inside just as the trio began to grip their microphones. The cops began to survey the audience diligently, scanning for safety risks in case the brimming crowd was over capacity.
Despite the garbled feedback from their walkie-talkies as they assessed the situation, it became clear that the cops were closing in fast. And just as the crowd reached the height of suspense, craning their necks and waiting for acclaimed Billboard hits like “Fight Night” to rumble out of the speakers, the show was over. Everyone was told to head to the exits. The night was over.
As the crowd dissipated and ventured out into the cool night air, sure, there was a hint of disappointment, a crestfallen sensation of anticlimax. But all things considered, A-Trak and Fool’s Gold Records proved themselves to be masters of resilience—cops, helicopters and all.