The concept of “nontraditional” concert venues has grown a bit specious in recent years, as spaces like Los Angeles’ Hollywood Forever cemetery, New York’s Angel Orensanz synagogue and Philadelphia’s Union Transfer (located in the former site of a farmer’s market and a spaghetti warehouse) have grown in popularity. That’s why Fader and vitaminwater raised the stakes for the third year of Uncapped, a live-concert series built on unlikely pairings between artists and venues. On July 29, the program charted new territory by bringing Solange to the Atlantis Super Wash Laundromat in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn.
Here, between the front-and-top loaders, an estimated 125 attendees filled two aisles beneath a raised platform where Solange and her six-person band performed. Seen and noted were Fader co-founders Rob Stone and Jon Cohen, publisher Andy Cohn and editor-in-chief Matthew Schnipper; vitaminwater brand manager Ben Garnero; Afropunk Festival co-founder Jocelyn Cooper; Stacey Fuller and Tatiana Acosta the VP and marketing director of Wilhelmina Models, respectively; Fool’s Gold’s DJ Nick Catchdubs; and Damian Bulluck, a Nike brand manager.
Uncapped was previously held as a touring series of concerts pairing artists from different genres in cities (i.e. Best Coast and Kendrick Lamar in Portland, 2 Chainz and Passion Pit in Seattle, culminating with a memorable Frank Ocean-Bon Iver bill in New York). This year, the program was reimagined as a largely New York-based concert series tied to vitaminwater’s “Make Boring Brilliant” campaign, which saw a memorable partnership with Fader and Fuse this March when the brand invaded the town of Boring, Oregon with a free concert from Matt & Kim, B.o.B. and Yung Skeeter.
Earl Sweatshirt kicked off this year’s Uncapped concerts with a show at a New York auto body shop on July 15, followed by Solange. Five more biweekly installments are set for every other Monday, including a stop at the Toronto International Film Festival, finishing on Sept. 30 in New York.
“We went into this year knowing that with the amazing trajectory we ended on last year, we had to look at it differently,” vitaminwater’s Ben Garnero told Backbeat from the parking lot at Atlantis Super Wash — the venue’s makeshift “backstage” area. “Through a session of brainstorms and problem-solving, we wondered if we could focus it a little bit on New York City and make it more about that raw music experience. And for us, ‘boring’ was kind of a mission we were on to take on these iconic, mundane moments and tackle Mondays in New York and these places you never expect to see a show. Sixty people in a Laundromat in Brooklyn just doesn’t happen.”
Booking the shows became easier, too. Fader publisher Andy Cohn added that Uncapped’s profile was elevated enough heading into Year 3 that “managers and agents were pitching us. That’s where we realized we had something special.” And though both Earl Sweatshirt and Solange have graced Fader’s cover in the past year, their Uncapped bookings were ultimately a matter of church and state. “We don’t believe in tying anything editorially into brand asks,” Cohn says. “Over the years we’ve seen other music media doing that, and it’s just not a practice we’d ever be comfortable with. You gotta also remember we only do six issues a year, and one of those is an icon issue, so it would be impossible to plan. But if we have Solange on the cover earlier in the year, it’s obviously going to make her a little more inclined to say yes.”
undoubtedly the best laundry experience of their lives.
(Photo: courtesy The Fader)
Solange, who lives only a few blocks away in Carroll Gardens, played an electric, engaging 50-minute set that spanned the majority of her breakthrough 2012 EP “True,” a pair of hits from 2008’s “Sol-Angel and The Hadley Street Dreams” (“T.O.N.Y.” and “Sandcastle Disco”) and a couple covers, including the venue-appropriate “Laundromat,” originally by early-aughties R&B singer Nivea (and penned by R. Kelly.)
Solange stuck around for an onstage Q&A with the evening’s MC Miss Info, during which she revealed an upcoming move to New Orelans and shared details of her forthcoming full-length, her first release as part of a new imprint for Sony called Saint Records. “I just started writing and laying down demos last week in Long Island,” Solange said, adding that British singer/producer Sampha, Dirty Projectors’ Dave Longstreith and Chairlift’s Patrick Wimberly are among her early collaborators.
Solange, post-washcenter performance, took time for a candid spin cycle interview with Miss Info. (Photo: courtesy The Fader)
Speaking with Billboard later that night, Solange emphasized the independent nature of her new pact with Sony, noting that she has no direct reports at the music group. “The infrastructure of this record, in terms of the creative process, is absolutely the same as the last one,” she said, alluding to “True,” which was co-written with Dev Hynes and released through ultra-indie Terrible Records, co-owned by Grizzly Bear’s Chris Taylor. “I’m making the music I want to make, in my own space, and it’s just incredible to be able to continue to do that.”
Solange also confirmed that the full-length will definitely be released in 2014, laying to rest any speculation that she might take another four-year break in between albums. “I’m actually trying to give myself a deadline this time around,” she said. “One of the pros of being independent is having the space and time to create, but it’s also a major con when you don’t’ set aside a deadline and keep going and going. When you have a goal in mind you definitely stay motivated.
Additional reporting by Andy Gensler