Last Friday Flying Lotus, Thundercat, Teebs, Taylor McFerrin and Mono/Poly played Tokyo, Skinkiba at ageHa. No cameras were allowed. Foreigners were spotted throughout the crowd. When I walked into the venue Simi Lab, a Japanese hip-hop group was on stage. Man, they tried, but their music and performance didn’t offer anything original. It just wasn’t interesting, but at least they weren’t embarrassing. I wasn’t cringing, put it that way. Artist and producer Teebs greeted the crowd with a Japanese thank you, “arigatou gozaimasu.” His boom bap soundscapes altered and transitioned into analogous modes that kept it moving. I love his production, but watching this brother pushing buttons and turning knobs ain’t the same thing as watching a DJ-producer mix his own beats over four turntables minus Serato.
I’d rather watch Prefuse 73 push buttons on an MPC accompanied by a drummer, like Taylor McFerrin (yes, Bobby McFerrin’s son). He killed it. From what I could tell, it looked like he had some sampling toys sitting on top of a keyboard. He was playing the keys and programmed drums, but his drummer was doing fills and adding another dimension to the percussion. His set flowed flawlessly from one composition to the next, but I was there to see Thundercat aka Stephen Bruner. Between The Golden Age of the Apocalypse and Apocalypse, his insanely beautiful music stays on repeat. In the zero-attention-span age, it’s virtually impossible for artists to put out music that commands constant rotation and repeated listens, not just right now, but over time its impact appreciates. Thundercat is that dude. I fucks with him pretty hard.
You can’t imagine the WTF dumfounded look on my face watching money. At one point he started off singing one song, steps away from the mic, does a bass solo, steps to the mic and starts singing the hook to an entirely different song. I sware to God. Out loud, after realizing what he did, he said, “wow.” His set was scatter shot, hardly able to get through a single jam. When he didn’t know what to do or how to lead his keyboardist and drummer, he’d just jerk off his bass. Top it all off, this nigga said, “arigatou mi gusta sí,” and as if the crowd didn’t hear him, he added another emphasized “sí.” I couldn’t make this shit up. After a half hour, when instructed to end his set, a direction presumably handed down by Steven Ellison aka Flying Lotus, Bruner said, “I gotta fart” and he farts into his bass amp mic. Enter Captain Murphy aka a rapping Flying Lotus backed by Thundercat and company.
Captain Murphy is cool, but live, it seemed like Ellison just assumed that anybody can rock a crowd. As the eye of the Brainfeeder storm, and manning this generation’s new wave of future antique music, he’s obviously stretched thin, but his stage presence on the mic resonated about as much as Simi Lab, and they were rocking off recorded instrumentals, not a live band. Props to Lilfuchs for the Captain Murphy visuals though. When Flying Lotus finally performed between two white translucent screens in the middle of a light show, cats were transfixed but that shit was begging me to go home. Why I want to stare at a giant screen saver with Lotus pushing buttons behind it? He had some interesting mixes, but nobody was dancing, and some heads just sorta bobbed if at all.
Watch Flying Lotus’ set below.