Turning 25 is a very odd feeling, and I had all the feels this past Friday. Some people call it the quarter-life-crisis because it’s when you can’t pass as a young adult anymore, but I viewed it as a realization. I looked back on 24 as objective as possible: the good, the bad, the highs and the lows.
Most importantly, I was thankful that I had a plan in place not only when I return to Troy next Sunday, but for the next five years in general. There was only one real way to celebrate for the weekend, and that way was going back to my birthplace, chilling with friends and enjoying some shows. So I hopped on the Metro-North with my backpack and took the trip down from Bridgeport, CT to Brooklyn for the weekend.
My ‘AirBnb’ for the weekend was my friend Danny’s apartment in Crown Heights/Bed-Stuy. A beautiful, residential neighborhood deep in the borough off the C train, it was great to see the part of Brooklyn that hadn’t fully been gentrified yet. Kids playing ball in the park, bodegas on every corner, and coffee shops that put Starbucks to shame. I didn’t need to go to Manhattan since most of the events I had on my itinerary were nearby, plus I had 50 percent off all my Lyft rides. So after chilling on a spliff and a brew under the Brooklyn sunset, I made my way over to Trans-Pecos in Queens for the Sundae Sauuce showcase.
Sundae Sauuce is a Soundcloud collective based out for Brooklyn that specializes in ‘future knock/future r&b’. Their vibe would fit in perfectly at Franklin Alley Social Club because it’s eclectic and doesn’t really fit into a genre. It’s Trap, House, Chillwave, Hip Hop and R&B all wrapped up into one. This show featured Chromonicci, Yugi Boi, Otxhello, Chuck Sutton and Vada. Connor Rush, who I had befriended from the prime years of RPI’s Ground Zero, does booking at Trans-Pecos and was bartending that evening. Not only did he get me on guest list, but he also spotted me a birthday ‘shot’ (half a cup) of Hennessy and a Rolling Rock.
So in a chill venue adorned with palm trees and hanging pots of plants, I sunk into the atmosphere and got my groove on, but more surprisingly, I saw how ahead of the its time this wave actually is.
The biggest thing that stuck out to me was how close and supportive this music community is. You rarely see artists turning up to each others music in the crowd as if they were fans themselves, but that was what exactly went down.
I pretty much just met everyone on the bill for the night by dancing by them at different points, talking music with them and just bringing an energy that matched the ambiance. One minute I was doing the backpack kid, than the next minute I was doing the Cat Daddy, then the Cabbage Patch. Every performer not only played bop after bop, but they were extremely down to earth and chill to talk to.
They bought me birthday drinks, checked out my poetry, linked up with me on Instagram and just thanked me for coming through. Slider Gang, a similar collective based out of Cali, was also at the show visiting the Big Apple, so I was able to meet Dejames, Jah the Prophet, and Oak who are some of the up-and-comers in the scene. They were all shocked I knew their material, appreciated the love and took photos with me cause it blew their mind that much.
Ali, a rapper from the Philadelphia/Delaware area, described it best when were outside on the porch cooling off between sets:
†“This is how shows should be. No one is here to throw shade or one up each other, everyone is hyping each other up, showing appreciation and feeling the vibe,” he said. “That’s the reason that this is wave of the future, and it’s only a matter of time before it really catches on.”
The next morning, I woke up on Danny’s couch with a hangover and the regretful taste of late night McDonald’s in my mouth, but it was worth it and I still had a Saturday in Brooklyn to look forward to. So, I got a cup of coffee from Anchor on Throop Avenue and caught a Lyft to Black Swan to catch the Korea-Mexico World Cup match. The Tottenham Hotspur soccer bar located in Bedford-Stuyvesant was packed to the brim with ladies and gents wearing their best for brunch.
While I was watching the game at the bar, a familiar face from my college past at Syracuse walked by with his girlfriend, stopped, stared and came over. “Ian?!” he asked as if it couldn’t be real. “Jackson?!” I replied, and it was. We hadn’t seen each other since 2013, and of all the places we meet up, it’s at a bar in the heart of Brooklyn.
We shot the shit, updated logistics and he invited me over to his studio on Myrtle Ave to chill and really catch up. An Architecture student attending Pratt, Jackson’s studio overlooked the Brooklyn skyline set in the Greenpoint area of the borough. Graffiti adorned the adjacent buildings as we took bong rips on his balcony listening to the new Dance Gavin Dance record sipping on a Gin Fizz he had crafted to perfection.
I could have chilled there all night in awe of the ambiance, but I was on the move again to Williamsburg to meet up with my friend Liam who invited me to be his +1 for BAYNK’s sold out debut headliner at Rough Trade.
I had never heard of the young house producer from New Zealand, so Jackson and I listened to his work before I hopped in the Lyft. In a vein similar to DJ Snake, BAYNK carries a production style that is atmospheric, tropical, groovy and pop all in one. With singles like “Come Home (feat. Shallou),” “Poolside”, and “Be in Love” all possessing crossover potential, it made complete sense why the show was sold out, especially at a venue like Rough Trade.
Rough Trade is a coffee shop, record store, book store, and concert venue all in one. It’s massive, yet intimate and original. After grabbing some shots and brews at the dive bar landmark The Levee, we rolled up a spliff and made our way over for BAYNK’s set, which even surpassed my expectations. Chilling VIP in the balcony of Rough Trade’s intimate venue space, the producer effortlessly dropped a set that carried a euphorically groovy vibe that you could not†not dance to. He even whipped out his Saxophone to perform live lines on select singles, as well as having adding his airy vocals to heighten the atmosphere of the performance.
I was quite impressed not only with the show, but with the whole experience of the weekend in general, and it made me think about Troy since I’m moving back in July.
Troy has been on a trajectory in recent years to become ‘Brooklyn 2.0’ or the ‘Upstate Brooklyn’. There are apartment complexes being built downtown that mirror Brooklyn in amenities and price points, as well as restaurants, bars, breweries and boutiques that could easily be scattered throughout Brooklyn or Queens.
The influx of transplants from these boroughs to the Collar City gives validity to this, however this presents a issue that Brooklyn has already solved. The reason I had so much fun in Brooklyn over the weekend was because I had a niche I liked, knew friends and acquaintances in the borough, and went to events that had a feel that was ahead of its curve and time.
As a city, Troy needs to bridge the gap between the ‘townie’ rust-belt nature of the City’s past with the ‘gentrified’ transition of it’s present and future. Organic, accessible events that can cater to both these groups would not only bring the city together, it would also give Troy a more objective and diverse identity rather than one that is conflicted with its potential.
If the city can have an atmosphere where someone can walk to River Street Pub, Lucas Confectionery, Footsy Magoo’s, FASC, Biergarten and The Ruck with the ability to enjoy original and unique events and atmospheres without feeling out of place at any spot, then Troy can be not only a unique respite for NYCers, but also an atmosphere where a 25-year-old who grew up there like myself can also appreciate its renaissance.
One where you can walk around with a spliff or jay and not have your head on a swivel because its decriminalized. An atmosphere where you can just do you, and be accepted for it.
The potential is there, now it’s up to Mayor Patrick Madden, Governor Andrew Cuomo, and the City as a whole to meet at the table, put a concise plan in motion, and make it happen. I mean, I’m moving back, that seems like a good enough reason for them to have this all come together for me.
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