Back in August, in XLR8R's review of FYF festival, we noted that Flying Lotus' 3D performance was "extremely underwhelming, and despite Flying Lotus’ considerable talent as a showman and producer, the 3D shtick detracted from the audience’s overall energy." Now, at a party-focused festival the size and depth of FYF, this wasn't altogether surprising—I'm sure you can imagine the jarring nature of going from a rave-filled dancefloor to being told to put on flimsy glasses and stand still to catch the 3D elements. The forward-thinking idea of a 3D show is commendable, but with the way technology is—again, the flimsy cardboard glasses being the only easy way to experience it—does it have a place in a dance-focused arena? Well, as luck would have it, Fly Lo's 3D show was commissioned as a standalone show as part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival Los Angeles, taking place on the Fairbanks Lawn at the Hollywood Forever Cemetary.
Arriving at the stunning venue around 630 p.m., lines to get in were all but nonexistent; and the staff, check-in crew, and security all friendly and helpful with where to go. By our arrival, Hannibal Buress—if you're not familiar, he's a comedian most known for his work on the Eric Andre Show—was midway through a hit-and-miss comedy routine. Hannibal is well known for being famously weird with his routines, so the awkward silences and dead one-liners weren't exactly a letdown. Fly Lo, Thundercat, and the Brainfeeder crew have also always had a comedic edge to their projects, so it also wasn't out of the ordinary to have a comedian open for them.
Once Thundercat and his band stepped on stage, the mood and vibe instantly changed—a nod must be given to the scheduling of a comedian to a full live band for an instant energy hit. The enigmatic bass player, backed by his sky-scraper sized logo and his huge six-string bass, grooved through a range of material from his recent Drunk LP before jamming across a range of classics, including some of his work with Kendrick Lamar—without Kendrick, mind you. Most likely due to the nature of the performance to come after Thundercat, visuals besides the aforementioned logo were nonexistent. Thundercat did, however, create a great rapport with the crowd, interacting smoothly with them with not only his bass and backing band but also with some down-to-earth chat that became a regular occurrence on the night.
Then—quite obviously due to the huge "Put On Your 3D Glasses" visual—it was time for the main event. As billows of smoke began to engulf the entrance visuals, Fly Lo conjured up interwoven ambiance and some in-your-face vocal chops that, along with the first wave of 3D visuals, really did bend the mind. For the rest of the show, in true Fly Lo style, he pushed and pulled the audience with barrages of beats that were full of beauty, horror, gore, and hallucinatory head-fucks. The music was more than backed up by the visuals in a perfect marriage that had people scratching their heads at one minute, wide-eyed the next, and dancing their asses off five minutes later. At the end of his set, Fly Lo picked up where Thundercat left off, addressing the crowd and stating that to be where he is in his career and playing the tour was a huge honor, especially "for a guy named Steve that just loves music." He then went on to appear to support his former label member Gaslamp Killer, who was recently accused of rape, with a rant about the internet being a liar—something he has since apologized for.
Having not been at FYF, I can't comment accurately on the changes in relation to this show, but as a standalone event, when all attendees are steeped in the experience, 3D does have a place in electronic music. As a final note, despite the stunning nature of the Hollywood Forever Cemetary, I can't help but think that a show of this nature might be better served in a more immersive, all-encompassing space.
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Photos: Kyle Midgley / RBMA