New York City's 80,000 square-foot Milk Studios was transformed into a playground for music and art lovers on Saturday, as M.I.A., Interpol, Neon Indian, Sleigh Bells, Die Antwoord, the Rapture, Mark Ronson, and others performed at the 12-hour kickoff party for the Creators Project, a new global arts venture from VICE and Intel.
Thousands flocked to Manhattan's hip Meatpacking District for the event, where they enjoyed free booze and hamburgers, and perused three floors of interactive multimedia art, including works from Animal Collective, the xx, Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist Nick Zinner, filmmaker Spike Jonze, and more. The common theme: exploring the intersection between technology and art.
"We wanted freaky genius mind-bending people," said VICE co-founder Shane Smith, who helped organize the event. Added Deborah Conrad, chief marketing officer of Intel: "It's all about inspiring more and more art."
Here are highlights from the event:
-- Neon Indian: Curly-haired mastermind Alan Palomo (playing a theremin!) led a drummer, guitarist, and backup vocalist through the lucid pop sound of "Deadbeat Summer," "Terminally Chill," and "Should Have Taken Acid With You," complete with oscillating loops and blips and bleeps that sound lifted from a Nintendo soundtrack.
-- Muti Randolph's Rubik's Cube: This remarkable exhibit featured hanging strings of lights (6,144 bulbs in all) that reacted to movement with bursts of sound and color, acting like a berserk, three-dimension Lite Brite as patrons walked between its strands. "My brain exploded and I had an acid flashback," said VICE's Smith.
-- Die Antwoord: The South African joke-rap trio was the event's most-hyped set -- it was their New York debut and one of their only U.S. sets to date. Emcees Ninja (sporting a Vanilla Ice flat-top) and Yo-Landi Vi$$er (a very, very short woman with chipmunk-high vocals) bounced around onstage in tracksuits and sang about being ninjas and masturbating. The crowd went crazy -- it was the most packed set of the day -- dancing in a sweaty pit.
-- Spike Jonze's I Am Here: The 25-minute film was a moving love story about two robots, who are part of a discriminated race living among humans. The girl robot, a free spirit, helps the timid protaganist let loose. But she's clumsy and loses body parts -- an arm, a leg; in an act of unselfish love, her boyfriend offers his. The final scene finds the boy forfeiting his entire body so she can live a happy normal life. She leaves the hospital carrying all that remains of him -- his head.
-- Interpol: Their set was the event's best. The band's lush, sinister shoegaze guitars hit perfectly, even from the back of Milk Studio's loading dock, on new songs like "Success," off their self-titled release out this September, as well as older gems like "Slow Hands," "PDA," and "Obstacle 1."
Elsewhere at the Creators Project:
M.I.A. flaunted a rainbow-colored hairdo while performing songs off her upcoming album (due July 13), including its fuzzy punk track "Born Free."
Mark Ronson held a song-writing panel with Neon Indian's Palomo, and later debuted tunes from his new album, Record Collection, with help from Phantom Planet's Alex Greenwald, and others.
The Rapture started a dance party with cowbell-heavy tracks like "House of Jealous Lovers"
A pitch-black room featured column sculptures -- one for each of the xx's three members -- with a screen showing video of them performing and interacting with each other.
The Creator's Project is expected to hold events in London, Sao Paolo, Seoul, and Bejing later this year.
M.I.A., "Born Free"
Die Antwoord, "Enter the Ninja"
Muti Randolph's Cube