The early-evening sun was still shining bright on the leaves on Central Park as the first Summer Stage concert of the year kicked off at Rumsey Playfield. Teen girls in flower headbands were sprawled on the fake grass, eating $11 slices of Margarita pizza while the adults in the crowd sipped wine and craft beer out of plastic cups. Summer vibes were strong.
The first act was the Brooklyn trio Little Daylight, whose minimal dance-rock sound was perfect for the natural and bright setting. The synths and drums mixed with leads singer Alexis’s girly vocals as they played to the relaxed crowd. Many of the hits – such as “Overdose” – would do better in a club setting, but still managed to play well to the outdoor audience. Stripped down versions of their more low-key songs worked well for the sun-dappled crowds, including a version of “Restart” where Alexis played a tambourine with a smooth and folksy confidence.
credit: Video by G.C.
The festival-ready girls and cargo-shorts-wearing boys were in for a surprise when rapper Danny Brown took the stage. The sunlight was fading, and it was time to get turnt. Danny’s songs, such as “Kush Coma” and “Express Yourself” were deliciously inappropriate for the some of the younger kids in the crowd. As Danny rapped in detail about his love of cunnilingus on “I Will” a good percentage of the audience seemed unprepared while the core Danny Brown fans sang every bar. Lines like “I don’t really care if it’s shaved or if it’s nappy, long as it ain’t nasty…” and Danny’s directions for her to “Look back at me” educated these youngsters on important life skills under the open skies of Central Park. The crowd eventually got into the hip hop vibe on Danny’s last song “Dip”. The infectious and unique beat inspired even the most innocent teens to twerk a little, and there were a few parents head-bobbing along. Danny’s set was short but very sweet to the hip hop fans in the crowd.
The final act, the Neighbourhood, were the reason all these girls broke out the flower crowns. As a pop-rock interpretation of a boy band, the appeal was strong, and inspired all the lethargic faux-hippies to jump up and squeal happily. The Neighbourhood are pretty boys for sure, but the musicality of the group is undeniable. As they played songs such as their hit “Sweater Weather”, their young fans sang every word.
The mix of music from the 3 acts – from dancable pop, to hip hop, to rock – was an eclectic choice to kick off Summer Stage. While there may not have been much fan overlap between the three, it was entertaining people watching and a technically good show. The beautiful setting of Central Park on a May evening didn’t hurt either.