KCRW Kicked Off Its World Festival Concert Series With Passion, Appreciation and Mind Bending Visuals REVIEW+PHOTOS: Flying Lotus, Little Dragon, Badbadnotgood, Georgia Anne Muldrow @ Hollwood Bowl 6/17/18
LOS ANGELES, CA- KCRW kicked of its summer-time “World Festival” program at the Hollywood Bowl in grand style on June 17th, 2018 with an eclectic line-up featuring a mind-bending, headlining 3D performance by Flying Lotus. On this pleasant Sunday evening, Hollywood Bowl patrons were also treated to a wide range of jazz influenced sonics and emotions from performances by Georgia Anne Muldrow, BADBADNOTGOOD and Little Dragon.
As concert goers were getting settled, dining on the feasts they had packed for a picnic, a fiery Georgia Anne Muldrow took to the stage. Having just released new music on the Brainfeeder label, she used her 15 minute set to remind people of her ability to tap into the deeply emotional places of her soul to speak her truths on politics and culture.
The tone was set immediately with “A Brother Like Ezell”; a heavy song that addresses police brutality. While the casual listener sipping on their wine and nibbling on their homemade sandwiches may just have been vibing to the jazzy, J Dilla-esque type instrumentals, there was no doubt that their attention was a caught when Georgia bluntly state throughout the hooks, “Don’t you die a slave”.
Georgia softened to tone when she explored her jazz leanings with the Joseph Leimberg produced “As I Think Of You”. While there was no drop in by the esteemed Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, her backing band clearly had a handle on “astral” nature of the sonics. That laid-back, mellowed mood was followed up with her new single “Overload”.
She then jumped into two songs that I was not familiar with: “Change” and “Akosua” (new songs for the Brainfeeder full-length perhaps?). It was during these two songs that she truly made her presences known. These were not comfortable songs to listen to. With lyrics like “we came to suffer”, “seems we are the hunted” and “shot to death”, the socio-political themes were strong in her performance. The passion consumed her as she leapt about the stage, literally kicking her shoes off, screaming the pain embedded in the lyrics of her music. While it may have been a little overwhelming for the Bowl dining audience, it certainly left an impression.
Following Georgia Anne Muldrow’s emotional outpouring, BADBADNOTGOOD lightened the mood considerably with their seamless jazz stylings.
With a simple, “Hollywood Bowl, how are you guys doing tonight?”, the Canadian quartet jumped into playing. They let their music do the talking. While they garnered immense popularity through their covers of hip-hop music and their various collaborations with hip-hop stalwarts, their 35 minute set was, based on my knowledge of their music, their own compositions.
Their sound at the Hollywood Bowl was exquisite. Leland Whitty’s sax sounded particularly superior through the venue’s speaker system, and Alexander Sowinski’s drumming was crisp and punchy.
By the time Little Dragon took the stage, the Hollywood Bowl was ready to let loose and party. The sun was setting slowly behind the Hollywood Hills and Yukimi and company jumped into their synth glory with “My Step”.
“Hollywood Bowl, do you feel good? Make some noise if you feel good,” Yukimi Nagano shouted after the song had concluded. The audience roared back its appreciation.
They then played a pair of cuts off their latest album tickling our sweet tooth with “Sweet” and getting us sonically stoned with “High”.
Yukimi had an extra bounce to her already spritely step on this evening, her body was kinetic as she lunged and swirled in synch with the music, pulsing with every downbeat. She encouraged the audience to join her in the celebration of life and music.
“Feel free to stand up, dance in the aisles, do a cartwheel, make out with your best friend.”
This was enough to get the audience up from our of their seats for “Summertearz” and to get lost in the rest of Little Dragon’s set.
Little Dragon has a strong fan-base in Los Angeles, and Yukimi acknowledged this fact:
“Because LA’s been so good to us from day 1, we have something special”
They then played “Constant Surprises”, a song from their first album and a song that the band rarely plays live (only nine times according to setlist.fm). They even played “Wildfire” (their collaboration with SBTRKT) which has been played even less live than “Constant Surprises” (only five times). Those cuts were definitely a special treat for the die-hards in the audience.
They kept the audience dancing and grooving with their bangers (“Ritual Union”, “Klapp Klapp” & “Feather”) until they concluded with the mellowed out “Twice” (another cut from their debut album). As the dripping star visuals on the huge LCD screen behind them flickered, I could smell nice wafts of weed permeate the air. Certainly an appropriate night cap for a wonderfully enjoyable, repertoire encompassing, performance.
Flying Lotus has performed at the Hollywood Bowl before, but he was still in awe of the enormity of the crowd. I had seen him twice before at the Hollywood Bowl, but this would be the first time seeing him with his 3D show. I caught a portion of his FYF perforamnce last year, but I don’t count it because I didn’t have a good view of this stage.
Flying Lotus’ 3D spectacle was engulfing. I’ve always been skeptical of the effectiveness of 3D effects in a concert setting, but the visuals that were on display this evening was nothing short of inspiring and a taste of what the future of concert going, especially for the DJ set, could be.
But it wasn’t just the digital 3D effects that were impressive. It was the way that FlyLo used those effects with real world stage production. The way the 3D lazers interacted with the actual lighting projections from the stage and how fog from the stage interacted with 3D fog seen through the glasses was tremendously aesthetic. It truly felt like I was being consumed by the stage, and that, in and of itself, was nothing short of impressive. The lines of reality and fantasy were blurred, and that sensation is something that’s not easily acquired in an outdoor setting.
On the music front, FlyLo kept it loose, dark and spacey. It almost felt like he was just going with the flow, letting his mood dictate the direction he took his sonics. Now, clearly, I don’t think he could have necessarily done that as I’m sure that his music most likely had to be synched with the visual show that he was putting on, but that’s the genius of FlyLo live. He keeps the listener on their toes, stirring a sense of anticipation with every beat drop and modulation.
“I got tunes for days,” FlyLo announced before he delved into new material for the last 15 minutes of his set. If that’s the case, I can’t wait to catch him and his spectacle on another date to see how his live-show evolves from here.