BangOn!’s Red Hook Reinvigoration: Elements Festival
Featured Image: Chris Lazzaro / Freedom Film LLC
More than 8,000 music lovers invaded a desolate shipyard last weekend as BangOnNYC’s Elements Music and Arts Festival breathed life into a concrete and rusted yet visually exhilarating environment. The higher quality production was immediately noticeable despite the fact that we were literally melting in what felt 110 degrees. New stages, more artists and attractions have made Elements Festival a one day celebration to be reckoned with, a true August staple of the usually baron Red Hook, Brooklyn. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Elements blossom and expand into a bigger, multi-day event over the coming years, an intriguing experiment for BangOn! given the unique location, which is located a mile from the closest subway station.
The “Zero Air” stage was a new area where the deep and refined sounds of Nicolas Matar, Oona Dahl, Yokoo and Blond:ish steadily carried the night on a pier positioned between two ships, with underwater and space themed visuals projected onto the broad side of one.
The music maintained its underground vibe while offering an particularly eclectic mix of genres. My personal highlights were Mija’s exceptionally weird and hard hitting set. Her frantic, candy colored bass warped through her Vindata collaboration “Better” and an edit of “In Your Arms,” originally by 2000’s pop punk group Hellogoodbye, which she debuted on her Snapchat last week and had producers buzzing. Kiwi Opiuo brought his instrumental glitch-funk overseas and had the entire crowd stomping despite peak temperatures and Klingande’s soaring deep house pleasurably lifted us through the sunset. Gramatik, one of the forefront producers of hip hop infused electro soul, closed the night with style with help from rapper ProbCause and singer/guitarist Gibbz.
In terms of visual attraction, there were more curated intimate areas with breathtaking art and paintings on display, a full jungle bar, and other interactive spectacles, like the giant animatronic skeleton which had hundreds of attendees giving it life throughout the day by tugging on long ropes. The House of Yes performers were on the scene spreading their love and circus antics. What really brought the production to new heights were the vibrantly intricate and high quality visuals of the main stage; expertly designed by visual and art production studio Rhizome. The gathering of so many creative voices against a backdrop of towering silos truly gave Elements a unique voice.
Re-purposing decrepit buildings and warehouses is what purveyors of NYC nightlife have done for years, and BangOn! is at the forefront. Elements Festival has developed into a prime example, the landscape is visually one of the most industrial we’ve seen, with towering cranes and shipyards sprawling in every direction. So far, events like this have proven to be one of the best methods of extracting value from these over-manufactured yet under-utilized areas and reinvigorating them with newfound economic value and artistic character. Stay tuned with BangOn!NYC as they curate more momentous occasions this summer.