Ten-Day Uniquely Brooklyn-Grown Music Festival Celebrates Ninth Year
By Scott Enman
In what was a long and controversial week for many in the Brooklyn community, it was only fitting that the Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival (BEMF) was there to console, heal and offer refuge to young adults looking to escape reality and the everyday problems of society.
The uniquely Brooklyn-grown festival, which took place from Nov. 4-13, brought people together and reminded everyone of the power that music has to unite in the wake of chaos. On sweaty dancefloors across the borough, festivalgoers danced to forget, danced to celebrate and danced to remind themselves of what is important in life.
Since its inaugural year in 2008, BEMF has slowly but surely established itself as one of Brooklyn’s most sought-after independent music events. What started as a small one-off party in a bar along the Gowanus Canal has evolved into a 10-day festival featuring dozens of musicians, panel discussions and art shows.
The ninth annual festival, which is reminiscent of South by Southwest and the Northside Festival, successfully showcased not only established musicians, but also the borough’s up-and-coming artists from “niche sounds and scenes to stalwart representatives.”
BEMF took place at several venues across the borough, including Good Room in Greenpoint, the enigmatic deep house shrine Output in Williamsburg, Analog BKNY in Gowanus, Trans-Pecos in Bushwick, the Music Hall of Williamsburg and a warehouse in Bushwick, as well as the Knockdown Center in Queens.
The Knockdown Center offered three nights of electronic music curated with visual art and uniquely choreographed, audio-visual experiences.
“This year I was struck by how spectacular the range of electronic music fans have become in NYC,” festival Co-Owner Jen Lyon told the Brooklyn Eagle. “As I popped around one weekend night to catch Chino Amobi, Robert Hood and The Black Madonna, all headlining respective events on talent-heavy lineups, it was spectacular to see the diversity of the core scenes at each event but then also run into the same heads that journeyed to multiple events and found new adventures.”
A highlight from the first weekend was when DJ and producer Kerri Chandler brought out a live violinist to perform during his set at Analog BKNY. The deft musician played his instrument in sync with the lively beats bumping from the club’s sound system for several minutes as the crowd roared in approval.
A handful of highlights from the second weekend included a wonderfully crafted set from the Black Madonna and Mike Servito at Analog BKNY, and a Berlin-like after-hours party in a warehouse in Bushwick that featured the legendary Robert Hood.
But what stood out in particular was a series of panels at Kinfolk 94 in Williamsburg that featured insightful and inclusive discussions regarding the future of dance music in New York.
Discussions covered a wide-range of topics from LGBT inclusion in dance music, to the future of underground music in Brooklyn, to the history of flier design during the golden age of New York clubbing.
The Eagle attended several panels including “Designing New York Nightlife: NYC Party Flyers 1988-1999” and “Is the Underground Overground?”
In “Designing New York Nightlife,” attendees were able to trace back the history of and see the evolution of dance music through party fliers. Speakers on the panel discussed what went into creating a flier, how that process changed with the introduction of technology and the importance of an attractive flier in throwing a successful party.
In “Is the Underground Overground?,” panelists discussed the importance of underground parties and what factors separate an event from being considered underground versus mainstream.
Venus X, a Brooklyn-based DJ, speaking about the culture of underground parties, said, “What we do is medicine.” And BEMF provided, at a contentious time, exactly what the doctor ordered.