We Saw This: Paul Banks, Savages, and Alchemist
Paul Banks of Interpol is not a rapper, nor is he in an all-girl no wave band. But the other night, at the House of Vans, he followed Savages and opened for Action Bronson at Complex Magazine's Judgment Night on Oct 18th, which was far more enjoyable than it was weird. I enjoy both Interpol and Action Bronson, and might even have put them in a playlist together at some point, probably something I would either skate or somberly drink to with a couple of friends while we complain about girls. But seeing both guys on the same bill, and the resulting diverse crowd (picture a harmless Brooklyn hipster/hypebeast twist on a southern school dance in the 60's) made the hefty admission price ($0) feel more than worth it. Some came for Banks, some came for Bronson, some came for the heavenly flowing fountain of free beer under a tent in the venue's skatepark backyard. Regardless, the show pleased both hip-hop fans and indie rockers alike. It was staged as a sort-of competition between the venue's two opposing stages, one armed with drums and amps, the other with tables, mics, and laptops. But when I asked some people who they were there to see, more than half said, "Free beer."
Savoir Adore played a relaxing electro-pop set, and Ratking, four high school-aged kids with good ol fashioned hip-hop talent, followed on the opposing stage. They were one of the most impressive acts of the night despite their smaller draw. For me, there's something warm and nostalgic about being in the House of Vans sitting on a concrete quarter pipe watching kids younger than me rap way better, even though I am not a rapper and have never had a similar experience to that ever. Rapper Ka followed, throwing down some solid verses but without enough gusto for much of the audience to think he was doing anything other than introducing Bronson, mostly because he kept saying, "Are you ready??" as Bronson walked around backstage. Any confusion was subdued by esteemed DJ and producer Alchemist, who looks like a blunt-smoking hip-hop hybrid of Joe Rogan and the Soup Nazi.
Alchemist spun some classics and got the crowd hyped. Femme punk outfit Savages followed, and I found myself lost more in the singer's eyes and English accent than I did in the lyrics. This would likely have made her angry. What came next was a hip-hop parody, really. SpaceGhostPurrp rapped well over some creative beats, but with him came his crew Raider Klan, who didn't rap much but bounced around and smiled a lot. I was happy for them; they seemed to be having a great time. Their stage presence followed by Paul Banks' was really funny in what I'm pretty sure was an unintentional way. Either that or some booking agent has a very dry sense of humor.
The vibe of the evening (and, I repeat myself, free beer tent) resulted in Paul Banks not having a huge crowd, which was actually pretty cool. It was like seeing a guy from a band you like showing up and playing a surprise set at Arlene's Grocery. Banks did a few old songs as well as some stuff from his upcoming exotically-titled album, Banks. No songs from the Interpol days, which he's proudly distanced himself from in recent years. Among him on stage were the archetypal 'grown-up rock star' backing band members, but they pulled through and played a melancholy set with some fun post-punk guitar bits thrown in here and there. Banks' voice is reminiscent of Ian Curtis, and for that reason I like it, even though he says he resents that comparison. With the familiar somber drawl of Interpol and a unique guitar sound, he provided the eardrums with some nice introspective R&R after SpaceGhostPurrp. I mostly wrote that so I could say Paul Banks and SpaceGhostPurrp in the same sentence. Did it again.
Headliner Action Bronson took the stage, gave us some favorites from the Blue Chips mixtape, and even wandered through the hyped crowd a few times. He also emptied a dimebag-filled ziploc freezer bag into the audience. I caught two of them. Last night I got too much free stuff for it to even feel like it actually happened, but it did.