There was almost no “Thug Waffle.” Almost no “Bath Salt.” With the Flatbush Zombies inciting their breed of hysteria, the sun nearing full set, and the warm air starting to cool off, the sound on the inaugural SummerStage abruptly cut out.
The New York City Park Foundation puts on a series of free shows every summer, this year with 100 performances across 17 parks and all five boroughs. The only catch: adhering to city ordinances that mandate quiet hours. The show was to end at or close to 9 p.m., and when power was seemingly lost — with scarce minutes to spare — the Red Hook Park crowd was unsure the cause or if the Zombies would even get around to closing their set right.
Y’ALL MASSACRED THE FUCKING SOUND SYSTEM
— Flatbush ZOMBiES (@FlatbushZombies) June 5, 2013
Had hella fun tight they shut us down early
— Barnacle Bartholomew (@ZOMBIEJuicee) June 5, 2013
Which is not to say that the show leading up to then wasn’t entirely raucous, live, and the perfect fire-starter to officially get summer going.
The Underachievers filled the undercard, a perfect compliment to the Zombies drugged-out, adrenaline-fueled, aesthetic. “I like psychedelics”, Issa Dash said before getting into “T.A.D.E.D.” one of the many Indigioism tracks the pair performed. Drugs were widely prevalent throughout the entire evening — concert goers twisting while standing, smoke wafting above — with Issa at point grabbing a blunt from the crowd at the right foot of the stage, puffing, then tossing it back.
The rest of the set featured Issa and AK ripping through Indigioism cuts (“This is our first time performing this ever, but we’re in New York,” Issa said before getting into “New New York”) and a new track with a call and response hook of “Niggas aint really bout shit” “Nah.”
Also receiving a “nah” was the evening’s host cursing and shouting her crew’s name. This was an all ages show after all, and while the crowd skewed younger (late teens and early twenties) the acts on hand had no child safety locks on their turn up.
Juice was the first to take the stage for the Zombies, sporting a camo Bathing Ape shirt and his signature wild man scruff. The group had just spent 24 hours returning from Australia, and after performing “MRAZ,” Meechy Darko expressed relief to back in their native borough. “I’m so happy to be home right now. I could kiss the fuckin’ soil.”
The crew rattled off some new shit (“Whatchu gonna do when them zombies come for you?”) and “Face-Off,” which got the crowd a little too rowdy. “Save the moshin’ for the last song, then we can break shit,” Meech told a group near center stage. “Don’t get my show shut down. I haven’t even said ‘fuck the police’ yet.”
The energy only picked up, though, with a performance of “Ignorance is Bliss,” and a procession of surprise guests. A$AP Ant came out for “3FLIP6” followed by Bodega Bamz, who ran through “Thrilla.” The Underachievers even came back out, turning the stage from a three ring circus to a full-fledged mob scene.
And then they performed “No Religion.” And then Meech told everyone to get back and make room. And just as the next song was about to kick in, boom. No sound. Just the crowd, chanting every lyric, but eventually tailing off when the music never came back.
An air of uncertainty settled in. A “Beast Coast” chant started. The Zombies never left the stage. And at 8:54 p.m., the DJ began playing. Sound began to build. “I think they fucked up for long enough” a disembodied voice echoed out.
And like that, the Zombies came back stronger than ever, ripping through “Bath Salts,” “Thug Waffle,” and “S.C.O.S.A.”
After some shirt-less crowd surfing, Meech returned to the stage to offer a final thought to back-packed, tattooed, hyped-up crowd. “Before I leave the stage, I got one message: Open your fucking mind.”