“Experience 1890s glamour, from the moment your guests make their entrance into a soaring gilded and marble lobby that recalls all the splendor of Versailles. Feast, dance and romance among ballrooms resplendent with a magnificent art and antiques collection, sparkling chandeliers, fabulous floral displays and rococo detailing.“
That’s the invitation on the low culture high art form too big to be believed astounding Park Slope wedding party and banquet hall Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn website. To say it is beautiful is to miss the point by miles of marble stairs, it is overblown and campy and it is lovely. There are four floors of stunningly beautiful rooms to wander round like a kid at Cinderella’s castle in Disneyworld. Everything is overdone, everything is Liberace with class and whoever thought to hold a celebration of DFA Records 12th year of existence there… that would be James Murphy in conjunction with the Red Bull Music Academy, deserve some kind of award.
From 10pm (actually, I got there at 10pm and the music was already in full swing) thru 4am (actually, I left at 2ish during the Shit Robot set so I am not sure when it ended) DFA presented their greatest hits live on stage except no Holy Ghost because they were at the Sasquatch Music Festival and no LCD Soundsystem for obvious reasons and if we are judging the evening purely on the music, it was a superb effort by all involved. I saw at least some of the Crystal Ark, Pat Mahoney and Nancy Whang, Planningtorock, Prinzhorn Dance School, Juan Maclean, Yacht, the Raptures DJ set, and Shit Robot and I am not exaggerating in claiming I heard nothing but brilliant sounds. It is a testament to DFA Records and to the brilliance of the evening that the music was so well sustained that a couple of hours into it, by which time it was too crowded to be fun, I couldn’t bring myself to leave.
Oh yes, the overcrowding. The first two hours of the evening were simply magical. I floated from floor to floor and Hall to Hall. Mostly staying near the Grand Ballroom but visiting the Rainbow (I think that was what it was called, I’ll double check when I can figure out someone to tell me) and Chopin Ballrooms. But as the night wore on and more and more people arrived, it became impossible to navigate the stairs and frustration set in. Both the Chopin and Rainbow Rooms became so hot and crowded they were unbearable and had me leaving DJ sets I was thoroughly enjoying. Lines for the toilets and the drink tickets were not worth the effort and to just make sure you got the point as you stood in line for just about everything, to simply get through the hall to the Chopin Ballroom, there was the sparsely attended Artist area where the rich and famous hobnob right in front of you: I felt like getting them paints and an easel and sticking it down their throats. Meanwhile, the huge security force, while undoubtedly necessary, started to feel oppressive because there was so much to secure.
I don’t know how many tickets were sold, maybe 10,000? I am sure that is what capacity says, but capacity assumes a certain amount of people in a certain amount of places and by the nature of a three ballroom performance art space the gridlock was a nightmare. Thank God for the smoking area at the back of the Grand Ballroom, where you could sit and chill (and I mean chill, the doors to the veranda were open and the June cusp evening was a cool 46 degrees)
Luckily the music made it all worth while. I missed half of Crystal Ark but what I heard had a mix of electronics and tribal beats with home made synthesizer. better live than on their debut album (every act I saw was better live than on record) reaching a zenith on the stutterer brilliance of “We Came To”
Planningtorock aka Janine Rostron came all the way from Berlin for the nights festivities and she seemed a little nervous and a touch static but it didn’t effect the music, a PC and Janine’s operatic bombast which brought the Bolton, England native (I mention that because I used to live nearby!) was beautiful and yes better than on record especially a head spinning “The Breaks” which had the woman next to me singing at the top of her lungs. If this is art rock, it is art rock for an audience.
I found the DJ sets a little confusing, never quite sure he as playing where in the very loud, very packed alternative Ballrooms. My ears were enthralled by this duo and later on by a white wall of sound DJ that was alarming and very danceable. But who were they? I think the latter was the Rapture but maybe not. The problem was the rooms had no titles, the basement was called the first floor I believe, and all the sets were late and except for this set I never got close to the DJs. Was it great? You betcha. Who was it? Except for Shit Robot later, I am not certain.
Back at the Grand Ballroom it is now way way too crowded and more strength to Pinzhorn Dance School. They have recorded for DFA Records since 2006 but this is only the duo plus drummers second gig in the States, the first was the night before at Shea Stadium. On stage they are a bass heavy lo-fi art band, on tstage they are a Post-punk funk rhythmed rock band taking off from Gang Of Four and the Au Pairs. and to call it a revelation is to damn it with faint praise.Tobin Prinz now plays guitar with all the attitude of a rock star and Suzi Horn looks and acts just like a modern day Justine Frischmann. The much loved band are much better live than… oh, everybody is better live than on record. This set rocked like a motherfucker.
But Yacht rocked harder. The award for set of the evening definitely went to Yacht’s high level intensity. In 2011 when everybody was raving about Shangri-La-La-La-La, I liked the single but was cool to the album. Well, I am listening to it again and while it isn’t the album the live show, it is better than I gave it credit for. Leader Jona Bechtolt was not the better living with science guy I was expecting, on the second song of the set he was a veritable housequake. But the night belonged to Claire Evans shattering presence on “Dystopia” and massive singalong “Shangri-La”. Imagine Panda Bear meets Amanda Palmer… something like that is what Yacht provided. An intense burst of nonstop rock and roll. It is like each band saw the band before them and the scale of the venue and thought “if I don’t bring it tonight I never will…” This wasn’t distant smartiness.. well, it was but that wasn’t all it was. It was a damn good party.
But despite James Murphy still not having performed and despite James and Shit Robot being my fave musicians of the night, I left before the end of Shit Robot’s set. Really, if you don’t dance DJ sets can be a little tedious. See what it takes Armand Van Buueren to make a show of his DJ sets? He travels round the world with State of the Art everything. Shit Robot sounded very loud, very wall of crashing white heat beats and bass, but I don’t dance, it sounded much like his April 2nd, 2011 gig opening for LCD Soundsystem at MSG. Plus,I was tired, harassed by the enormous amount of people and ready to head home. If LCD had been closing, I would have waited.
As my grade will show, the point was the music and the music was great but as my grade won’t reflect, DFA at Grand Prospect Hall had the potential to be one of the great concerts of all time. A losing my edge “I was there when…” moment in New York musical history but it didn’t come close because greed or stupidity or just poor judgement made any attempts to fulfill the evenings potential thwarted in long lines and overheated ballrooms.
Ed replaces Ed
I woke up in the middle of the night to buy the box set and I’d do it again
‘It has been a strange, anchoring pleasure’
Wanna get fucked up the ass? Get famous.
a form of personal jesus
something he learned from his legendary uncle
how little this list has in common with the prior ones
a disquieted sadness permeates
Someday they will match TM and AEG as one of the big three
The 2021 “Legends Of Vinyl’s “Gala Awards Night” New York DJs and Artists Hall Of Fame, Tuesday, September 14th, Reviewed
we will pass, disco will live on with lov