Review: Shepard Fairey + Z-Trip + Chuck D

“Experiment Redux” | Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston | July 31, 2009

So Shepard Fairey actually made it this time. No insane, last-minute sting operations by Boston cops lurking just off the ICA’s property line. But also: no grand dramatics, either. (Like, he totally could have parachuted through a shattered skylight. In slow motion.) Fairey just showed up and did his thing. “I broke into my own art show and didn’t get arrested,” he recapped, after his DJ set. Then, after referencing the recent Skip Gates drama and his personal disdain for authority, he added, “The police must be on their best behavior.” If Fairey’s paranoid, vaguely-nefarious slogans “OBEY” and “They’re Watching” weren’t blatant enough – and they flashed liberally throughout the ICA all night - Fairey was happy to add even more wattage to an already-politically-charged evening of bumpin’ and grindin’ at Experiment REDUX, the closing party for his first-ever museum show.

VIEW: Photos of Shepard Fairey, Z-Trip, and Chuck D at the ICA

The beautiful people began to arrive at the ICA shortly after nine (riding $40-$100 tickets), while we snuck upstairs to interview Fairey in the gallery. After a short conversation about DJing (among other things: see video, above), we retreated to the VIP room to score a drink and hobnob before the infamous DJ Diabetic (Fairey’s nom-de-turntable) took the stage. Soon, word spread and the crowd trickled downstairs to behold what its had been denied the first time around: a Shepard Fairey DJ set at a Shepard Fairey party. Shit was about to blow up.

Fairey toyed with some Toto and a little “Black Betty,” but also dropped LCD Soundsystem’s “North American Scum” and the Faint’s “Glass Danse,” veritable odes to capitalist excess and societal degradation, while the “OBEY” logo flashed, obscene, above the grooving crowd of socialite high-rollers. “Shake your rump, pump your fist and let’s fucking do this!” Shep cried from atop his pulpit. Had Fairey offered the crowd punch, we’re sure they would have drunk.

We grabbed Z-Trip for a moment before his set, where he equated DJing to “fucking” (“There are times when you want to do a quickie and other times it’s about making love”) and as his set proved, he prefers the former. Z opened by tricking out a politically abrasive sample -- a mash-up of Obama’s condemnation of the Cambridge Police condemnation -- which segued into “Fuck Tha Police” before showcasing his turntable prowess with live remixes and his otherworldly scratching ability. Public Enemy’s Chuck D seemed to apparate on stage, as if summoned by the sheer volume of righteous indignation in the room, to spit verse over Z’s beats. But poor acoustics and a clueless crowd drove us outside to the ICA’s back patio.

There, further hobnobbing ensued before we found ourselves alone, with no one to romance by moonlight. With only intoxicated couples on the dance floor, the VIP room closed -- and, with that, our access to free booze killed -- we chose to make an exit.

Check out the video montage above to get a feel for the party vibe, or go in-depth and watch our full interviews with Shepard Fairey and DJ Z-Trip.

Related: Inside the box, Interview: Shepard Fairey, Slideshow: Shepard Fairey, ''Supply and Demand'', More more >
  Topics: Live Reviews , Barack Obama, Entertainment, Addison Post,  More more >
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