Oh we know it’s only January, but after seeing Ryan Hemsworth take over Output on Friday, I have no question in my mind or heart that this show has set the highest bar of excellence for all producers coming through New York for the rest of 2016. If you don’t believe me, read why below:
1. Ryan Hemsworth, need I say more?
For those of you who have never seen Ryan Hemsworth live, it’s quite similar to trying exotic foreign food for the first time: although otherworldly in some sense, there’s a vague familiarity leaving you equal parts apprehensive and intrigued, and in no time at all you give into your senses, leaving you amazed and surprised how you have gone your whole life without making such an incredible discovery. Akin to this “Hemsworthian” style, he opened his set with an unreleased remix of the Skrillex/ Bieber collab, “What Do You Mean,” which was ripe with futuristic bass elements and emotional synths that made the crowd sway to the proverbial “feels” of this beloved top 40 hit.
A variety of RyHem remixes made the setlist, including his versions of Lorde’s “Ribs” and the pop-punk jam “Feelin’ This” by Blink 182. It wouldn’t be a true Hemsworth set without blending catchy samples with booty bouncing beats that make you feel as though you’re in the heart of ATL. Some may wonder, “What does a 25 year old producer from Halifax know about hip hop music?” Well I’m here to tell you, a lot more than most modern day rappers you can find on Hot 97. He spun his original, “Cold & Tempted” and Fetty Wap’s “Jugg” so fluidly into his set that fans would easily move from passionate swaying to bouncing to pop-lock-and-dropping all in the span of 3 minutes. It takes true talent from an artist to impact their listeners’ ears, body movements and hearts simultaneously, and time after time Ryan Hemsworth is able to do that with ease and perfection.
2. Break Dance Battles
It’s shows like this which make me regret Output’s “No Photo” policy, because there were so many moments that were ideal shots for the Snap Novel. The venue seemed as though it was the set location for a new “You Got Served” film, mainly because an hour-long break dance battle ensued throughout Vashtie’s set. With fresh to death freezes and flips, a group of three buff dudes practically cleaned Output’s floors with their bodies with all the moves they exercised across the floor. The trio looked so good executing each step so flawlessly that it made you feel like a “cool kid” just by association. Their positive demeanor made it all the more possible for people to jump in and join the fun, regardless if they had moves that didn’t exactly “serve.”
3. Mythbuster: Jersey Moms Turn Up
Speaking of dancescapades, one of Friday’s best moments was seeing a horde of moms take over a corner of Output’s upper level. Out of sheer curiosity I had to go over and find out what women who looked like they were my mom’s coworkers were doing at the club at 1 AM on a Friday. Were they lost? Was the babysitter getting that good overtime? After talking with them I learned that they came in by way of “West New York” (otherwise known as “Jersey”) to celebrate a birthday. What makes hip hop music so enjoyable on a visceral level is that its confidence-inducing rhymes and rhythms are irresistible to anyone of any age. It was nice seeing this quality manifest in full force where strangers formed giant dance circles together, and left the club as friends.
4. “Who Dat? Who Dat?” Not I-G-G-Y, but HU DAT!
In the oversaturated EDM market, often times an opening act will get the short end of the stick by warming up the CDJs for an empty room while attendees wait to arrive “fashionably late.” While this may be the norm, this was not the case for Hu Dat, a Cali-bred DJ making her Output debut as she played to a packed floor for the first hour and a half after doors opened. With songs like “Make You Touch My” by DJ Yolo Bear and Y2K-generation favorites like “Celebrity Overnight,” people didn’t even need a glass of liquid courage from the bar to want to get on the floor to shake what their mama gave them. I’m sure Hu Dat will be a DJ to watch over the coming year.
5. Time Traveling Through Music, Thanks to Vashtie & Jasmine Solano
Known for her weekly residency at Webster Hall’s “House Party Thursday Nights,” Vashtie played a hip hop set for the books with old school tracks like LL Cool J’s “Doin It,” Adina Howard’s “Freak Like Me” and even throwing in some new songs like Ty Dolla $ign’s “Drop That Kitty.” Her hour on the decks overflowed our hearts with nostalgia, and the music brought us all back to fond memories of listening to Cool J or Snoop for the first time. While hyped in the 90s spirit, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t look on Amazon for a choker necklace in the morning.
Jasmine Solano was no exception to a night of throwbacks. While Vashtie brought us back to the 90s, Solano made sure hip hip favorites from the 2000s were represented as well. I swear the second Chingy’s “Right Thurr” came through the speakers you could see an emotional reaction cross everyone’s face as they remember trying to download the song on Limewire or setting it as a ringtone. While we appreciated each and every throwback, trap anthems from the past few years included RL Grime’s remix of “Mercy” and “Fuck Up Some Commas” by Future.
Overall, the night embodied a musical selection that was eclectically refreshing and emotional. We have a long year ahead for festivals and late nights at Output, but after this show, I highly doubt anything can truly compare.