TOKiMONSTA Raises The Roof At The Hammer Museum With Gavin Turek REVIEW+PHOTOS: TOKiMONSTA, Gavin Turek & Ambré @ Hammer Museum 7/28/16
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I carefully tracked the time, counting down the minutes to 6pm, before rushing out of the office to dive into LA traffic, in hopes of making it in time for the concert at the Hammer Museum in Westwood. As I approached the venue at around 7:15pm, the parking garage was already full, and the attendants began to hand out maps to alternative parking locations. Thankfully, I managed to park nearby, and made my way over to the museum. Gavin and TOKiMONSTA weren’t set to play until 10pm, but that made no difference to the people lined up around the entire block to get in and see their show. It was as though the entire UCLA campus, and the majority of L.A’s youth populace, had found out about this event on social media.
I sidestepped through to the “Media” check-in as people flooded into the venue from every open door. So amazed by the turnout, I looked to the ticket-taker and exclaimed that I wasn’t expecting so many people. Increasing my anxiety, she replied with a mildly horrified look, “Neither did we”.
As I start to scout the location, I’m confronted by a sea of people on the first floor in the center of the open architecture that the museum provides. Off to the side are two small DJ booths. Upstairs I find the same sea of people, either making their way to one of the three bars, catching Pokemon, or wandering through the museum to take in the art around them.
An attendant notices my pink wristband, and I’m eventually escorted to the VIP section on a small bridge connecting the opposite ends of the upstairs area. I look beneath me, and to state the obvious- it’s packed. The masses of people move together, like a herd of cattle rushing the tiny stage before them. It makes Coachella look like milk and toast. This is truly the most crowded, and honestly, one of the coolest concert venues I’ve ever attended. I’m now thoroughly convinced that every show hereafter should take place in an open space art museum.
The opening artist, Ambré, warms up the crowd with her silky vocal performance. Her soulful New Orleans flavor echoes through the museum walls. Admittedly, I’m unfamiliar with Ambré, but after hearing her music, I can understand why she has been invited to the stage to open. After Ambré, comes the highly anticipated performance by Gavin Turek and TOKiMONSTA.
The crowd packs in as tight as possible, and at this point I catch wind that the line is now two blocks out the door. Clearly, there was no chance of late-comers getting in. When Gavin and TOKiMONSTA hopped on stage, the crowd erupted in cheers. Backed by TOKiMONSTA’s irresistible sonics, Gavin Turek performed with full-blown energy as she sang softly and danced loudly with irresistible power. With thousands of people following their music online, these LA natives represented their city with utmost enthusiasm. After performing a few of their hits, including “Surrender”, Gavin leaves the stage for TOKiMONSTA to take over. This is my queue to rush downstairs and be next to the stage.
I’ve only seen TOKiMONSTA perform once before at The Standard in Downtown. Although familiar with her music, I was not expecting a performance like this. She paused to take the mic to celebrate the artists who came out to perform, the people allowing the performances at the Hammer Museum, and thanked the world for art. She takes another moment to explain how things were gonna go down:
“I’m going to take you guys on an journey. I’m going to start slow, then things are gonna get crazy”.
The crowds screams and cheers with unbridled ecstasy with a volume that reverberates through the entire museum.
TOKiMONSTA kicked it off with some soft, lounge-like beats giving off a relaxing vibe, fit for any audience. Quickly, things escalate to include heavier bass, and louder synths. The transition is so smooth, the audience hardly notices the difference. Before I know it, we’re neck deep in remixed pop songs, and pumping speakers. TOKiMONSTA is a petit person, but don’t let that fool you- she comes packed with intense energy that’s infectious to the crowd.
Say what you want about EDM culture, but what’s not heard can be felt in the energy of the audience as you’re listening to the music together, supporting your favorite artist. The best way I can describe it is like it’s going to a movie theatre, and experiencing the same emotions with everyone around you, because you’re watching the same movie. It’s a visceral experience. TOKiMONSTA’s music, paired with her vibrantly colored background projections gave for an incredible show. She even threw down a few classics like “The Next Episode” by Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, and then flashed forward with chart toppers like “We Gon’ Be Alright” by Kendrick Lamar. From beginning to end, the entire crowd including myself, were in a trance-like state jumping up and down, waiting for the beat to drop, and shouting lyrics back to TOKiMONSTA. She wrapped up her performance by taking a video selfie on Snapchat.
TOKiMONSTA has proven herself to be a top-notch DJ. She is taking over soundcloud, and is pioneering the movement for females DJs to finally hit the mainstream. Not to mention she’s doing it all in 4-inch heels.
Don’t be one of those people waiting late in line two blocks away from her show- be sure to catch Tokimonsta on tour opening for Flume from now until September.
The Hammer Museum hosts a plethora of cultural events throughout the year. CLICK HERE to find out if there are any upcoming events in their schedule that you’d be interested in.
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Emilie Svensson is an LA local who directs movies, and online video content. She attends concerts often and writes about them occasionally.