All images via Red Bull Content Pool / Lauren Gesswein
Last night, he headlined one of the most highly anticipated events of Red Bull Music Academy’s month-long New York takeover, the “Hudson Mohawke & Friends” show at Webster Hall. “Special guests” were promised, and since the hip-hop world has fallen in love with HudMo in the last couple of years—really since he and Lunice (as TNGHT) blew everyone’s heads off with “Higher Ground”—much of the pre-show chatter centered around who he would bring on stage with him. Would it be someone on GOOD Music, who he’s signed to for production? Would it be Björk, who he remixed in 2012, and who recently opened her own DJ set in New York with a TNGHT song? Could it possibly even be Kanye?
After Mweslee had warmed things up with a DJ set, Le1f performed with a couple of dancers (“Wut” sounds especially good on a big soundsystem), and finally, after some technical problems had been sorted, HudMo took to the stage with a new live setup that included a keyboard amongst other equipment.
Although there was no appearance from Björk, Kanye, or my personal hope for the night, Pusha T, a few specific moments highlighted just how important HudMo is, and how adamantly he refuses to be put in a box. The Scottish producer is on Warp Records, but he’s not just putting out experimental records. He’s made beats for Kanye and Drake, but he’s not just a hip-hop producer. He can compete with most big-name artists in terms of straight bangers that the average Electric Daisy Carnival-goer might know, but he’s certainly not an “EDM festival artist.”
Where else but a Hudson Mohawke gig would you find Travi$ Scott going mad on stage performing “Upper Echelon” and then crowd-surfing while a Four Tet song played (HudMo’s remix of “Parallel Jalebi” to be exact)?
Where else but a Hudson Mohawke gig would vest-wearing, sunglasses-clad bros, hyped off those TNGHT tunes (and what sounded like some new Action Bronson) suddenly be confronted by a shadowy singer with a one-of-a-kind quavering falsetto? Oh shit, that’s Antony Hegarty, from Antony and the Johnsons, singing what RBMA would later confirm is a new song he’s recorded with HudMo. Crazy.
Although the new Kanye West song “God Level” was only very briefly teased, the holy HudMo trifecta of “Cbat,” “Thunder Bay,” and “Fuse” (with “Higher Ground” thrown in the middle for good measure), served as a reminder that the Scottish producer should let no special guests or famous friends take away from the fact that he’s been one of the most vital producers in electronic music since 2007.
Below is a by no means complete setlist from last night. Big up Hudson Mohawke and Red Bull Music Academy.