Red Bull Music Festival New York’s 2018 lineup is so excellent it makes me a little uncomfortable

Red Bull Music Festival New York's 2018 lineup is so excellent it makes me a little uncomfortable

The Art V. Commerce debate is characterized by ambiguity. Try too long to determine just what, exactly, constitutes ethical behavior for an artist in the 21st Century, and your head is likely to end up spinning. Attempts to describe the nature of the debate by analogy bring grandiose, cyclic images to mind: the ouroboros, Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s notion of the chiasm, the incomprehensible vision given in the Baghavad-Gita of Krishna’s true form: limbs, mouths, eyes beyond number, endlessly devouring and simultaneously birthing the universe.

As a case study in this ambiguity, consider Red Bull Music Festival New York, which just announced its lineup for this year, featuring a smorgasbord of music and music-adjacent happenings, to run from May 3-May 25. Red Bull, as you may know, is an energy drink. Opinions may vary on the merits of this entire beverage class, and on the merits of Red Bull in particular; but I, for my part, will go on record with the following opinion: Red Bull is…pretty bad?

And yet! The beverage brand’s festival’s lineup is…so good!!! (Trust me, folks, for I do not toss ‘round the word “smorgasbord” lightly.)

But also, said-lineup is also so long! The press release is well over 3,000 words. You probably haven’t even read that many words in your whole life combined! (I sure haven’t. Until today, that is.) If you want to wade through the whole schedule yourself, you can do so here, but, if even the thought all those words makes you want to fuckin’ hurl (and it should!), you can peruse a few of what I have subjectively determined to be the “highlights” below. You’re welcome!

The Red Bull Music Festival New York 2018 will feature:

  • John Maus performing at Coney Island
  • A conversation with Harry Belafonte
  • Composer Tristan Perich premiering Drift Multiply, a piece for 50 violins and 50 self-built 1-bit speakers at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine
  • “Dream Machine,” with The Master Musicians of Jajouka led by Bashir Attar, Oliver Coates, Zeena Parkins, Dave Harrington Group, Sophia Brous & Special Guests at Pioneer Works, a live reimagining of Brion Gysin and William Burroughs’ experiential invention, the Dream Machine
  • Fever Ray
  • A Conversation with Robyn moderated by Kindness
  • NYC Film Premiere
  • Tributes to RAMMΣLLZΣΣ including Wiki, Show Me the Body, Onyx Collective, 700 Bliss, and more, as well as a RAMMΣLLZΣΣ retrospective
  • Teeth & Nails with Bali Baby, Asian Doll, Rico Nasty, Lil Wop, Chicken, HANZ, DJ Kenn
  • Oneohtrix Point Never premiering MYRIAD, a concert featuring his first full live touring ensemble at Park Avenue Armory

Are you drooling? Because while verboten in most contexts, in this one, it would be justified. Cast aside cynicism! This is the thinking music consumer’s dream festival! Corporate brands, when they put their hive minds to it, can do good! (Drink Red Bull!)

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