The venue was the Brooklyn Bowl in Williamsburg, doors opened at 6 and I was there at 6:05 because I’m an overachiever and I wanted to avoid lines. I walked into BK Bowl, a beautiful cross between bowling alley and upscale bar/restaurant conveniently located right next to the Brooklyn Brewery. I spoke to the patrons of the bar that weren’t wearing silly looking shoes about the producer/artist RJD2 and those I asked were happy to tell me about RJ the ‘one-man show,’ saying he’s an absolute must see, more spectacle than concert, an artistic showcase that I likened to a bartender that flips the bottles in the air before serving your drink.
RJD2 started his set around 9:45 after DJ Thanksgiving Brown warmed the crowd up, promptly shutting the lights off to make his grand entrance, the feel of the room was as if a magic show was about to start. ‘Commissioner Crotchbuttons’ led the show off in his space helmet and jumpsuit, spinning his synth pad carefully strapped where his name suggests. Minutes later he reverted back to his RJ form and started his set, his music an eclectic mix of funk, hip-hop, folk, rock and a bit of flamenco drums.
The most impressive of his performance is that for the most part he rocked the house on his own, entertaining the crowd while working like a madman with the use of an overly large table with spin tables and laptops and other musical equipment. A half hour into the show the drummer arrived to play alongside RJ, then a guitarist came strumming a guitar alongside the drummer. It was fascinating to see all three artists having their own ‘open jam’ in front of a live audience, only knowing when he started playing an original song when I’d here the strong applause of the fans that flooded into place. RJ also had Jordan Brown, an artist that he had worked with on his upcoming album, come onto the stage to sing, which was one of the highlights of the night for sure.
He played a full two hour set like a true showman, watching him on stage running from end to end gave me an appreciation for his art that most occasional listeners would be lost on, because as much as artists put into the work, the ‘customer’ only sees the end product. Keep an eye out for RJD2’s newest album Dame Fortune which will be available on March 25th.
** Recommended tracks by RJD2: “One Day” / “A Lot of Night Ahead of You”