This is one of the things that I love about Brooklyn – amazing art spaces hide in plain sight. During the day, it’s easy to pass what looks like another abandoned, empty warehouse with a garage door rolled down. Who knows what’s in there, if anything. Then at night, the door rolls up, a line forms outside, and what’s in there is a spacious venue with music blasting, drink flowing, lights burning, and in this case, brainfeeding. Flying Lotus’ record label, Brainfeeder, hosted its NYC session presented by Red Bull Music Academy at Villain.
The main draw for this Brainfeeder session was The Gaslamp Killer, the L.A.-based underground hip hop DJ who has a reputation for, ahem, ‘killin’ it’ in the clubs when he performs. He doesn’t just chill behind his DJ table and scratch a record here and there. He’s active, interactive, and he head bangs like a thrash metal guitarist. He punches buttons, turns knobs, scratches vinyl, gives some shouts on the mic, and then dances with his beats, as if he is the soundwaves themselves. The projections going on behind him added much of the psychedelic elements, sometimes feeling like some sort of glitch vortex sucking our souls into an MPC. When the lights went bright on his face, he had the crazy eyes, like a person possessed by his turntable and samplers.
Before the glasses came off
The crowd had the crazy eyes too; we were all in a trance, like collectively part of this organism that was breathing and changing shape as we bobbed our heads and waved our hands within a loose dubstepping exoskeleton. The Gaslamp Killer was the conductor, fueling the engine with his beats and creating a wind tunnel with his circular motion flying hair. He also showed a more diverse range of musical taste and knowledge when he used a Tame Impala sample. If he didn’t have me before, he had me at “Why Won’t You Make Up Your Mind,” from their first album Innerspeaker. Then he took it back a little bit further with some familiar sounding Outkast samples.
It made perfect sense that he was being showcased at an event sponsored by Red Bull. Reps were passing out free cans, handing them around and sliding them across the stage to the people in front. These kids were hyped, but beats by The Gaslamp Killer were all anyone needed to make their eyes go wide and dance like a glitch machine.