All month, we've experienced Red Bull Music Academy's second New York takeover, in the form of one-of-a-kind experiences and brilliant, unexpected line-ups. Who else would hire four crews to pay tribute to the dance movements birthed in and around New York? Then have a street party to get a road in TriBeCa named after DJ legend Larry Levan? And THEN get musicians from different worlds to participate in spontaneous performance, for multiple nights? Only Red Bull.
Last night, Hudson Mohawke brought Mweslee, LE1F, Travi$ Scott, Bodega Bamz, and Antony Hegarty (of Antony and the Johnsons) to Webster Hall for his highly anticipated HudMo and Friends event. Mweslee began with a varied DJ set that ended with somber strings, LE1F rapped and danced to his top songs, including "Hey," "Sup," and "Wut" (at one point with two dancers), and then HudMo finally hit the stage.
HudMo began with ambient sounds, which set the mood for his 2012 "Hud Mo Peaches & Guacamol RMX" of Björk's "Virus." Björk started her DJ set in Brooklyn last weekend with a TNGHT song, so the love is apparently still mutual. HudMo recently put a collection of his remixes from 2009-2014 on SoundCloud, and perhaps with the exception of Jackson and His Computerband's "Vista," "Virus" may be his most masterful reinterpretation of any song, so far.
But of course, a majority of HudMo fans came to dance, especially those who have learned about him in the last two years through his work with Kanye West on Yeezus and Lunice for their on-hiatus duo TNGHT. He soon played TNGHT's "Goooo"
and that one unreleased TNGHT song that they play at every show (but, as far as we know, has no name or release date). [UPDATE: Hudson Mohawke let us know on Twitter that it is not a TNGHT song; it is a solo track of his.]
Travi$ Scott hit the stage for "Upper Echelon" and told the audience to "crowdsurf" and "lose their shit." Bodega Bamz followed, before HudMo got into what everyone really wanted...literally any play of Kanye West's new song, "God Level," which soundtracks Adidas' World Cup commercial and premiered on Kanye's wedding day last weekend. HudMo co-produced it with 88-Keys, Kanye, Mike Dean, and Noah Goldstein, but he teased only a snippet last night:
After playing his triumphal solo track "Scud Books," the real highlight of the night happened. Antony Hegarty, of Antony and the Johnsons, appeared behind a transparent screen as a silhouette (in contrast to Travi$ and Bodega, who performed in front of HudMo). He sang what we believe are parts of two unreleased songs, which, with HudMo-sounding production, were mesmerizing. Of all the Friends HudMo brought along, Antony was the most unexpected and also the most powerful.
He ended with a serene track (that sounds like it should have Kanye singing in autotune on it). He then got one encore song, but afterward shrugged and pointed to his watch, letting us know his time was up. It was a bittersweet ending, since his set was around 90 minutes instead of two hours (presumably because of technical difficulties getting set up), but it showed us that Hudson Mohawke's a force on his own, with or without his recent hip-hop cosigns. HudMo proved that he deserves the respect he's independently earned from releases since 2008, and last night was a display of his skill range and potential moving into the future.
Catch HudMo on tour through August.