Niceto Club, Buenos Aires: 7th September
The problem with electronic music tends to be a lack of representation. The internet is full of exciting, innovative new projects spread across every corner of the globe, deconstructing style, history, and rhythm on the daily. The evolving musical landscape is difficult to keep track of, and artists feel isolated in their bedrooms, sending off transmissions to digital fans. The selling price is usually nothing, and with an audience spread literally across the globe, the ability to put on shows will always be limited. In comes Red Bull to solve this conundrum of physical distance using the brute force of capitalism and branding.
Red Bull Music Academy’s (RMBA) formula, which has proven extremely successful, is to graft together adventurously eclectic lineups that respect the history of experimental music, while giving valuable stage time to young guns of all gender and backgrounds. The emphasis is on collaboration, unification. In some respect, it is amazing what the energy drinks company has managed to accomplish for experimental music simply by being a generous host. They put on symposiums anyone can join, all expenses paid – provided you have the right combination of klout, personality, and spicy production chops.
Red Bull might seem like the odd godfather for DJ showcases. Their ads normally feature people accomplishing impossible physical feats. But what Red Bull is truly good at is taking wonderfully obscure activities and embellishing them, bringing the tastemaking sensibilities of a connoisseur, the budget of Dan Bilzerian, and the enthusiasm of a 17-year-old adrenaline junkie.
As with all of their endeavours, the MO is Red Bull is that they are footing the bill, so anything is possible. That is why, where there was once airplane acrobatics, skydiving, snowboarding, BMX pyrotechnics, you can now find veterans like Floating Points trading tracks with Indian newcomer Oceantied at a 17th Century palace in Rajasthan in December; Clams Casino and Ryan Hemsworth at an ‘official afterparty’ in Paris; Kaytrananda and Argentinian singer/guitarist Sobrenador at Niceto Club in Buenos Aires.
The show was an all-night experience, with Kaytranada dropping his own edits and obscure mixes of classic hip hop tracks. Outkast, Chance the Rapper, Missy Elliot, Kanye West, a Spanish remix of ‘One Dance’ by Fuego, and many more got air time, and the crowd’s response was ecstatic. Hip-hop is coveted in big cities across the globe, and despite the language barrier, visiting artists clearly revel in the feeling of having over 1,000 foreign strangers singing along to classic 2Pac. The producer seemed comfortable playing the role of the DJ as well, using all of the standard tricks to get the crowd amped up and ready to party. At one point, the Haitan born, Canada-bred beatsmith even freestyled. I fantasised about a guest making an appearance – Kaytranada’s tracks feature the best in contemporary hip-hop and RnB, and he played every verse, laying the floor to waste with cuts shared with Anderson Paak, Vic Mensa, Chance, Denzel Curry, even Pusha T.
What felt most successful about the night, though, was the geographic and cultural distance that was seemlessly overcome in the procession of the show. It felt totally natural hearing a Canadian producer playing American beats in an Argentinian club supported by locally-sourced talent, surrounded by fans from all over the world. This is no doubt what RBMA had in mind when they set out to join the world’s stages together for wild, wonderful collaborations. Their latest lineup was inspiring, it left clubgoers howling for more as sunrise was just peeking around the corner.
Photo: Red Bull