Red Bull Music Academy, which has been serving up content beamed directly from the underground music scene for over two decades, is coming to an end. A partnership between Red Bull and Yadastar, they’ve funded workshops, documentaries, live events, and print and online articles that documented rising artists and musical scenes that have been ignored by mainstream music journalism. The closing of the organization is an immeasurable loss for music journalism in the modern age and it’s going to be a sad day when they officially close their doors in October.
While Red Bull has vowed to keep some of those initiatives going in some form, the fate of many of them are still up in the air. One of their most popoular events is the Red Bull Music Festival; a month long concert series that takes place in New York and Los Angeles. This year’s New York edition had FKA Twigs and JPEGMAFIA among others, and we headed out to catch noise artist Moor Mother’s show in Brooklyn New York.
Moor Mother is a multidisciplinary artist, but her work in the music medium tends to lean on spoken word/hip-hop/and industrial noise. Think of a messier, angrier (if possible), more politically and socially conscious Death Grips. This time around Moor Mother has gathered a group of collaborators to put up ‘Red Summer’, a performance piece who’s theme is based on the anniversary of the Red Summer; a series of race riots that killed hundreds of African Americans a hundred years ago.
With an ornate stage that bled into crowd by the Black Quantum Futurism Collective (with a phenomenal stadium ready lightshow), the performance wheeled from Last Poets influenced free jazz and bebop, to pure performance art, to an industrial noise barrage. What was striking is that as avant-garde as the performance could be at times, its unrelenting focus on the American history of injustices against black people made the work a cohesive whole. Not to say that there weren’t bops; Irreversibleentanglements’ jazz chops served as a perfect backdrop for Moor Mother’s pro-black rants done in the style of Gil Scott Heron. Long running queer noise punks ONO provided the heaviest moments; a rage fueled noise rant that covered injustices like the Tuskegee experiment while engaging in some live performance art and subtle noise music play. The show closed out with Moor Mother doing what she does best; laying down industrial noise beats while raging against the past but asking you to rally to envision a beautiful future.