LIVE: NPR and WNYC Soundcheck with Flying Lotus, Death Grips, Buke and Gase, CMJ

Words and Photos by Reginald Duvivier

NPR and WYNC’s Soundcheck presented a showcase that brought Flying Lotus, Death Grips and Buke and Gase to Le Poisson Rouge. Ali Shaheed Muhammad was the house DJ with a set consisting of classic 90’s Hip-Hop. He admonished the too cool for school New York crowd for not dancing (“I can’t read y’all”) but did not let that stop his fun or slow down his superb song selection taken from his decades of experience.

The semi-acoustic Brooklyn based duo Buke and Gase were up first. Using a modified banjo and guitar they played complex pop oriented compositions while singer Arone Dyer tied it together with an indie-pop friendly wail. Their songs build up quietly only to break away into surprisingly heavy guitar jams. Guitarist Aron Sanchez kept everything well timed with an authoritative bass drum thump that echoed across the room.

After a year away which saw them cancel a tour, release a critically acclaimed album, and then leak the follow up themselves, the punk rap group Death Grips made a triumphant return to New York. Despite being short one member, keyboardist Andy Morin, vocalist MC Ride and drummer Zach Hill annihilated the crowd Wednesday night with their blend of industrial death beats and live drumming. Drums, synthesizers, pre-recorded backing vocals and live barks bleed into each other into a sonic attack that had Ride stalking the stage while the crowd moshed below him.

Flying Lotus capped off a busy week in NYC that saw him throw a showcase for his record label and headline a show at Terminal 5 with a set at Le Poisson Rouge. As usual he spun an excellent set that veered from his own hits to current club favorites like “Mercy” and trap-house overlords TNGHT, along with new remixes on the fly. What makes Flying Lotus an absolute joy to experience live is the contagious fun he has djing; as a prolific beat maker he rarely gets to work out his compositions in front of a live audience. A grin never left his face as he played tracks and got to witness the crowd react to them.