At festival, a unique take on Prince's 'Purple Rain'
03 Oct 2016 - 12:44
New York: When pop legend Prince died, the indie rocker Twin Shadow said his first impulse was to rush to the studio to record a tribute to one of his musical heroes.
Instead, Twin Shadow decided the best way to channel the spirit of Prince was live -- which he showed through one of the most creatively challenging sets at The Meadows, a new festival in New York.
Twin Shadow, the stage name of Dominican-born US producer George Lewis, Jr., told the crowd that for him Prince's music was "much more fragile and momentary" than a tribute album could represent.
He described his set as an interpretation of Prince's "Purple Rain," but instead of performing copycat covers from the classic 1984 album he infused the songs with new life.
For "I Would Die 4 U," Twin Shadow replaced the lush dance texture with a hard-driving but sparse electro pulsation.
"Darling Nikki," controversial at the time for its eroticism, became all the more sinister as Twin Shadow mixed it with the harsher, kinkier industrial backdrop of Nine Inch Nails' 1994 hit "Closer."
For "When Doves Cry," Twin Shadow went even heavier on the guitar opening -- the hair-metal solo that proved Prince's versatility and prowess -- yet then chose a subdued beat for a hit so rare in pop music for lacking bass.
Twin Shadow brought out the most inimitable aspect of Prince -- his voice -- by summoning his own vocal power but remaining careful not to overdo it on songs such as "The Beautiful Ones," which took on a subtle Caribbean touch.
Prince died on April 21 from an accidental overdose of painkillers. Artists including Stevie Wonder will mourn him at a memorial concert on October 13 in his native Minnesota.
Twin Shadow, who performed another "Purple Rain" concert a week earlier in Los Angeles, made his major label debut last year after winning an indie following with his synthpop fusion.
- Kanye out early -
The undisputed main attraction of the two-day festival, held in the parking lot of the Mets baseball team's stadium, was rap superstar Kanye West. Fans waiting an hour in a dedicated line just to buy his merchandise.
West however abruptly ended his set -- which he started half an hour late -- after his wife, reality TV star Kim Kardashian, was robbed at gunpoint in her Paris hotel room of millions of dollars in jewelry.
In his hour-long performance West pursued his theme of self-love from his "The Life of Pablo" album, entering to overhead fireworks and racing illuminated across the stage's orange fog.
Chance the Rapper, a sometime collaborator of fellow Chicago native West, warmed up the crowd with tracks from his Gospel-driven mixtape "Coloring Book" in a set that went from stripped-down beats and jazzy trumpet to full-blown dance hits that shook the pavement.
In an unlikely representation of inner voices, Chance the Rapper brought to the stage puppets including the chatty Carlos the Lion, a blue Muppet-like character who offered words of encouragement between songs.
Other performers Sunday included retro English rockers The 1975 and Toronto indie rockers Metric, who delivered an ear-numbing but ultra-high-energy set.
The Meadows was created by promoters of New York's six-year-old Governors Ball at the tail-end of the festival season amid fast-growing demand for live music.
Tapping into the diverse flavor of the surrounding borough of Queens, the festival brought out Bollywood-style dancers between sets and sold cuisine from local Latin vendors.
But The Meadows had unwelcome hiccups with the shortened set by West -- whose set at Governors Ball was rained out -- and the cancellation of Saturday's headliner, R&B sensation The Weeknd, who instead performed on television's "Saturday Night Live."