Venue impressions: very hand painted, intimate feel. Feels like a lot of DIY loft venues I’ve been to in NY, so mission accomplished I guess. Great stuff to be looking at if one were to be flipping out on hallucinogens, I imagine. Coolest venue in town, by my estimation.
Fatima Al Qadiri: Excellent DJ set from a reserved and focused Fatima. Probably the best nails of any performer at Airwaves. Fatima was as cool and collected as you can possibly be while utterly turning a packed venue out. Mykki Blanco and his crew made a surprise appearance on stage, which gave the entire performance an intimate, house party-type appeal. Deep, deep bass that very much took cues from popular modern rap but put her own club-influenced spin on it. Only responding to the throng of sweaty revelers with the occasional demure smile, at one point taking the beat from the Teriyaki Boyz’ Tokyo Drift and chopping and screwing the beat over another rapper’s lyrics. Her panoply of references, ranging from steel drums, gun shots, horns, and other such painfully synthetic sounds found their way into her set, laid against the backdrop of modern rap. Although much of the music was made from synthetic replications of such instruments, Qadiri has a way of incorporating them in a way that feels natural and genuine.
The BPM was generally kept high, but later in the set introduced some R&B and even some Arabic singing. If Fatima were responsible for more of the beats bars were being spat over these days, the rap world would be a better place for it. As for this New Yorker, there was a distinct, hard and welcome New York edge to her beats.
The Mansisters: Fatima proved a tough act to follow, and the venue thinned out significantly upon the end of her set. It was no help that they went on the instant Fatima finished her set, to a largely exhausted and cigarette hungry crowd. The Mansisters have a spacey-rock kind of feel to their beats, almost like the Night Rider theme. Good and thorough use of cowbell. Their last song was played as they walked off the stage: a remix of Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side, which was the highlight of the set for me, ironically.
Hermigervill: Hermigervill wins the night on the immaculate use of theremin alone. I’m pretty biased towards this guy; he’s literally my favorite Icelandic artist and as such, my objectivity may well be called into question. However, the vast majority of the set was completely original. He opened with a theremin and nothing else but silence for about a solid minute, as the bass came in. A technical matter prevented the full beat from coming on for about a full minute but his sheer showmanship carried us through. Pretty soon, he was in full swing, treating us to a theremin solo, which he occasionally played with his face, mashing on the keyboard, and generally playing like a madman. The full effect called to mind Dan Deacon, discordant and cacophonic at times, at times taking cues from some early 2000s warehouse-type rave and breakbeat a la Adam Freeland’s Mind Killer, while calling to mind a more upbeat Luke Vibert at others.
As the set progressed, it got funkier and more rhythmic, catchier beats with a lot of echo and fade, yet with each song having a clear beginning and end. There was clearly more intent in how we was playing; more We were treated to a super-dub and tripped out Ojba Rasta song, with one of the members himself showing up to perform the lyrics. It later became uptempo and danceable. Crowd interaction was vocal and frequent, both prompted and otherwise. he ended the set with a upbeat live rendition of Yamaha Yoga, one of his earliest tunes. Hermigervill actually gives his two first albums away for free on his website, thus making recommending his music to anyone is the easiest thing in the world: www.Hermigervill.is
Pedro Pilatus: Hermigervill set the stage perfectly for Pedro Pilatus. Logi Pedro Stefánsson, also a major component of Iceland’s Retro Stefson, has been quietly building up his presence as a beatsmith under the moniker Pedro Pilatus. With their only recorded material having come in the form of an EP, Calia, released nearly a year ago, it was nice to see Logi very much in his element on the wheels of steel. After a long night of electronic music, and a particularly formidable set from Fatima Al Qadiri, Pedro Pilatus’ deep bass, ’90s hooks and deftness on the synthesizers kept the sweaty, drunken, gradually tiring mass of Harlem moving through the night.