Unicorn Meat NYC ‘Illuminate 2013’ Review

Electronic music culture has come along way in the past 20 years. The distinct connection with the rhythm and beat to our own physiology has been identified and delves deep into the world of theta brain waves and spirituality. The 90’s was the decade spent attempting to figure this out with underground warehouse parties and rave culture becoming prevalent across the globe.

536951_500201303365410_1118398240_nThe connectivity and oneness felt through electronic frequencies interpreted into dance is the end game for personal liberation. Since this time, the pure message has been brought to light and cultural evolution has spiraled forward into the present where there is an absolute connection; music is god.


All of those plugged in, behind the decks, or throwing the event are the priests and ministers. The ritual and need for this connection in life ensued. In the mid 90’s the Moon Tribe, CA, started throwing parties outside under each full moon, bringing the dance out into nature. The masses followed suit and festival culture grew exponentially, making it socially acceptable, causing commercialism to greedily corrupt original intentions. This particular realm of  culture out must be devoid of commercialization as the real will recognize the real.

So out of the depths, into divinity and the word on the streets in the North East is that Unicorn Meat, a production company based in NYC, is bringing the festival into the city. Over the past year headliners have included Moby, Conspirator, Nigel Richards, An-ten-nea, and Heyoka, just to name a few; names matching a high ticket price will almost guarantee an epic musical performance or two. These underworld style all night events dabble the attendee in a psychedelic wash of intrinsic artistic novelties in all formats. Large art installations built by independent teams are a staple reality, as are performance artists yielding fire and silk dancing from the rafters. This event was named Illuminate in image of last year’s Halloween event which was a held a month later. Living up to their reputation, the musical bill was stacked, the set times were as so;

9:00-9:45 ChrisB.
9:45-10:30 FreQ Nasty
10:30-11:15 VibeSquaD
11:15-12:00 ill.Gates
12:00-2:00 Shpongle
2:00-3:00 MartyParty
3:00-4:00 Lucent Dossier Experience
4:00-5:00 Random Rab
5:00-6:00 Govinda

[soundcloud params=”=true&show_comments=true&color=0ac4ff”]https://soundcloud.com/kennydigital/sets/illuminate[/soundcloud]

These of course stated they were subject to change, and this was the case being that the doors did not officially open until 11PM. Ticket holders lined the block, each adorned with corresponding thought bubbles “info said doors at 8PM, right?” ChrisB. was on at 9PM apparently, as bass was heard throughout the hood. I wanted to catch his set but didn’t. Standing in line with FreQ Nasty and Simon Posford, I made it in just in time to see ill.Gates bring his set to an end. Simon handed me a piece of knowledge stating that the two giant eye sporting structures on the sides of the stage were pieces of the new Shpongletron unit that Zebbler (Shpongle’s visual technician and member of the Zebbler & Encanti Experience) was implementing on their upcoming tour. Behind these beautiful eyes stood a wall of cubes lined with programmable LED’s. This back drop was impressive and complimented each act with rolling vibrant patterns controlled in real time. Couple this with a full scale club style lighting rig with 12 independent moving yoke spot lights that beamed stunningly through the blackened warehouse air, and it’s fair to say that the visual aspect of the event met the expectations of everyone in the room.

The art installations were complimenting the sectioned room, from the blacklight lit hammocks with sound bath technicians making their rounds, to the large illuminated crystals leading into a corner of prehistoric floral blooms. Immediately behind the bar area was Ian Brill’s Transmission which consisted of four walls laced with LED’s diffused through translucent corrugated paper. Inside intellectual conversation could be found as this installation was driven to evoke the relation between humans and technology. Exceptionally cool places to chat and hangout were amidst the cleverly camouflaged rubble that looked as though it had been shoved off to the side and with little care, blocked by a barricade. A lit tunnel connected the spaces and on either side sat ancient paper rolling machinery.

1266688_556859171052948_2138019018_oIan Brill’s work focuses on the accumulation of form through process. Through the creation of interactive, performative, and multi-sensorial environments, he considers boundaries of becoming (versus being) in our relationships with technology. Transmission is a series of audiovisual environments that explore the flickering moments between absolute emptiness and perceived life. Through a spectacle of low-resolution, immersive projections, and generative, spatialized, light and sound gestures, a need for illusion is both perpetuated and met. Transmission is as much a celebration of our ability to interpret sensory information as it is grounds for both human error and wonderment. (VIA Festival 2013).

IMG_2559The UV reactive hammocks gave a beach rave feeling to the chill side of the warehouse. A beautiful action was the sound bathing that was given to those hanging around. There is an issue here. The thought and intention were right on track but the entire setting itself killed the altruistic art group’s actions. It was too loud to hear the bowls, but I still love them. It’s dirty, yes this warehouse turned section 8 style mega club was dirtier and filthier than anywhere outside. I was reminded of past warehouse parties, blowing my nose, turning tissues black. This happened at breakfast the following morning, partly due to the warehouse atmosphere and improper ventilation. Another addition to the filth was the 50 piece, indoor porta-potty installation that lined the outside of the dance floor. They were full by 2AM and not a positive aspect of Illuminate’s ambience. Couple this with the black mystery particle thickened air, and you had a recipe for bitching. The Unicorn Meat team installed a massive and precision tuned audio system to suppress the uncomfortable people’s complaining. The sound was reminiscent of a club system being that it directed to the dance floor, and it stayed there as the bass wasn’t sternum shaking good but filled the area completely.


AstroscopicIf you happened to look up above the glow sacks and the crazy faces on the televisions, the light sculpture dubbed Astroscopic could be experienced. This was a great piece and looked like it took some sweat and blood by Julia Sinelnikova & The Sperm Whale. All my respects to the artists who provided the installations, as they are always a deal sealer for me. I still feel as though the installations weren’t in their proper environment. They are a novelty and a side thought it seems from the production team as their integration should have been with the rest of the party and the bathrooms should have been segregated, ideally outside. The large lumerians that inhabited the farthest corner provided an artist lounge with all the acts socializing before their sets. Those crystals were tuning the frequencies properly, because every musical act was on point that night in some way, shape, or form.


As I noted earlier I was able to just miss VibeSqaud. The crowd responded well to ill.Gates, but at this point everyone was still milling around finding the night’s path and trying to figure out why they were there. Synchronously everyone realized why they came to this place as “The Jellyfish Jumped Up the Mountain” experimentally played with fresh ears. The music from this point on became the popular point of interest for the rest of the night. Simon’s new tunes were grabbing attention, but everyone would be lying if they said that’s what they wanted.

The crowd exploded, arms stomping and legs pumping, all was chaos when Mr. Posford laid down “Periscopes of Consciousness.” A million eyeballs connecting, minds satisfied with tradition and ritual as each epic Shpongle track was lifted from the archives and presented before the now fully packed house. Simon’s set displayed his disc jockey skills, mixing it according to crowd feel, controlling the tempo and producing a positive glow on the darkness concerning negative thought’s spawned from the small touches left ignored that symbolize the polarity in this realm of the music scene. The lineup and art installations clearly make a statement of new world, evolution provoking and higher states of human consciousness, but in the very same environment you have apparent unconscious event planning and careless covering of what’s not supposed to be seen. Besides all that, water was sold for a dollar. Rightfully so as there was no tap in the building, if you managed to get an empty bottle in after the heavy petting at the front door. A hired security team was heavily present, at the same time polite and respectful.

MartyParty took to the heavily lubricated audience and made reign. I’m not necessarily atoned for trap influenced tracks, but his set fit the joint like a glove. It felt comfortable, heavy and overbearing hip hop inspired bass lines atop which psychedelic patterns of bleeps and blurps sounded amazing to me, like I was in some rich suburb cooking up a cauldron of drugs, stirring the cut with a Louisville slugger. I got into it briefly but not that into it because MartyParty’s tunes are intended “to make you party” (MP, himself), but each set is unique and not choreographed; accept it for what it is or soak in the uncomfortable.

After getting proper with Brooklyn’s homegrown, the stripped down Lucent Dossier Experience took stage with the edition of Kraddy. Normally this group comes with big fire, aerialists, enormous metal dodecahedrons, and other tribal circus accoutrements – not so much this time. They did however bring nudity and a choreographed routine that had every eye locked center stage. The music for the experience is produced by Frankie Metaphase, Atla Gadret, Dream Rockwell, and Nikita Sorokin with co-headlining Kraddy. These two forces together sounded natural and complimented each other well. I dig it, and the music definitely fits the huge experience when it’s in its entirety, but when the skeleton crew comes out, the pieces hauntingly felt missing. The music was powerful and cinematic behind the gorgeous stage performance. The sexy scaled down LDE instinctively charged the air for Random Rab, perfectly setting the band’s naturally seductive signature sunrise sets.


The Lucent Dossier Experience placed after MartyParty wasn’t proper placement, but the rest of the acts melded perfectly. This was the intention – to have Rab play sunrise, but the thought that there was no way for light to get in never landed. Rab, on percussion and the violinist, Ilya Goldberg gave what was left of the audience a truly professional performance. The sound became richer and fuller, and the overall connection to the music became capable as Random Rab is a master in his field.

Govinda closed the morning and absolutely left his heart on the stage. Speaking to him earlier in the night, I knew he was going to lay it down heavy. His hard hitting selections paired with intense visuals and performance artists telling the story of each track through dance made Govinda’s closing performance rightfully his and reluctantly worth the wait. Shane displays a passionate artist’s energy seamlessly woven into intense mixing and an aggressive violin that make for an event in itself. The musical acts were all so good as each artist delivered above expectations.

It’s those expectations that make it unjustifiable to put together an event that doesn’t portray a single direct message. The direction, the artist’s intention and expression is what made each of those sets amazing. The infrastructure and environment has to be from that same source. Why do we throw these events with art installations, forward thinking music, beautiful visuals, and the best sound systems in the world? The answer is different to each person who attempts to do so. If the answer is anything other than art, humanity, and evoluti0n – they are wrong. We need to move forward in all aspects of music culture. To do so, make sure you have your own house in order. If it isn’t then all that will be accomplished is confusion. The need is present for conscious gatherings and this event entered that realm, intentions transparently on display alongside true artistic expression.

Photography by Kelly Adams


If you would like to see what the Unicorn Meat team is doing you may do so here –  UnicornMeatNYC.com

Shpongle’s Music – Shpongle.com

Lucent Dossier Experience – LucentDossier.com

MartyParty’s Music – MartyParty.com

Govinda’s Music – GovindaMusic.com

Random Rab – RandomRab.com

By Rab, “We are excited to announce the release of the film Visurreality. Part concert movie and part documentary, this 1 hour film is a lens into the music and journeys of Random Rab.”

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