With the summer winding down, the scary reality that less music festivals are left in the calendar year dawns upon us. But MoMA PS1 put off that thought for one more day in Queens on an unsually hot day, following a streak of unusually cool days. As part of their Warm Up concert series this summer, MoMA PS1 assembled their own mini festival for a sold out crowd in their outdoor space, complete with boxed water, an oversized cooling station, food and booze, and plenty of good vibes.
In matching polka dotted outfits, DJs Star Eyezzz and Jubilee pumped out some heavy bass as incomers filled up on BBQ and beer. The stairs leading up to the stage were crowded with fans sitting and grooving. Then all hell broke loose and not a single person was sitting as World’s Fair stormed the stage. Their first show since signing to independent wavemaker Fool’s Gold Records, World’s Fair brought the hype as the only Queens act on the bill. Foam fingers and mixtapes flew into the crowd as they performed “’96 Knicks,” “NGM,” among others. And Jeff Donna even braved crowd surfing down the stairs, where he was launched onto a girl at the bottom. Luckily they hugged it out and no one was hurt.
London grime producer and DJ, Darq E Freaker, did his best to match the live energy of World’s Fair, spinning remixes of hits like “Mercy,” “Pop That,” “Work,” “Versace,” along with his “Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine),” track he did with Danny Brown. But nothing had the hipsters moving like the original recordings of “Tom Ford” and “New Slaves.” He also brought live wired, pink haired, female rapper, Gita, on stage to do a couple tracks since he couldn’t interact as much with the crowd from the lofty DJ booth.
MR. MFN eXquire unassumingly approached the stage afterwards in his Supreme “Hennessy” jersey. But whether it was the heat, partying too hard the night prior, or dissatisfaction with the mic levels, eXquire was not the rambunctious performer I’ve come to expect. Even with hype man Cokey Briccz who oddly donned OVOXO gear and eventually performing bare chested, eXquire was “turned down” for half his set. On top of that, it was strange to feel like the only person rapping along with eXquire to “Huzzah.” He showed a shadow of himself once he brought World’s Fair back on stage to perform “Flowers.”
If anyone sat back down during MR. MFN eXquire’s set, they certainly got back up for Bangladesh. “Mr. Everything I Make Is Hits” didn’t hold any punches as he opened with his own verse over “F*ckWithMeYouKnowIGotIt,” a sloppy live MPC recreation of “A Milli,” and snippets of “Video Phone,” “Cockiness,” “They Point,” “What’s Your Fantasy,” “Buy,” and others. What really had people talking about his set though, aside from the legal messes aka his hits with YMCMB, was when Bangladesh’s artist, CJ Hilton, threw a few stacks of 1’s into the crowd as he sang a couple tracks. At that point for a few seconds, everyone on the stairs in front of the stage turned into a devout fan.
How do you follow an act that threw money into the crowd? Easy. Be J.Cole. The already packed crowd somehow found room to move even closer to the stage as Jermaine came on for the shortest set of the concert. While his DJ and keyboardist were having a blast with “Can’t Get Enough,” “It In The Morning,” and “Nobody’s Perfect,” girls mindlessly screamed and guys shouted the lyrics along with Cole. It was sort of a homecoming for J.Cole as he showed love back to the city that supported him early in his career. He even tested the diehard fans by pulling out “Lights Please.” Of course there were the few fans who threw up the Roc, but by in large J.Cole had come into his own as an artist and not so much the rapper who Jay Z signed. He did take a moment in the middle of his set to sit on a stool and have a heart to heart with the crowd. Cole explained that the mix of fans and haters he’s garnered over time, due to his music and arbitrary decisions like his outfit selection at events like the VMA’s, inspired “Crooked Smile.” But more than an explanation, it seemed like a confession of enlightenment which he wanted to share so that others can learn. Hopefully the googley eyed stans came away with some lesson. And I can’t lie, as much as I’ve heard “Power Trip” on the radio and thus grown sick and tired of it, seeing and hearing the emotions in J.Cole’s face and voice made it fresh again.
Although a huge chunk of the crowd dipped after J.Cole, plenty of people stuck around to party with headliner King Britt. The producer brought out Saul Williams and had the night feeling right with a mashup of Michael Jackson and Daft Punk. King Britt closed out the night of DJ/producer alternating with rappers with dance friendly tracks. And even the overlooking neighbors of MoMA PS1 had no choice but to groove along.
Hit the jump on the following pages for a video of J. Cole performing “Can’t Get Enough” and “Chris Tucker,” as well as pictures of some of the other artists.
Bryan Hahn (@notupstate)
Photo Credit: Alex Mateo (@mateophoto)