Rapturous, borderline-messianic praise for hip-hop auteur Flying Lotus flows as freely as it once did for his great-aunt and -uncle, Alice and John Coltrane, and for many of the same reasons. The artist formerly known as FlyLo (and as Captain Murphy, and a Los Angeles artist, producer, Adult Swim composer and label-founder, Steven Ellison) is buster of genres, a one-man redirector of rivers. His sixth full-length, 2019’s psychedelic funk and soul epic Flamagra, is a star-studded, sprawling mess of a masterpiece. Flying Lotus operates at the outer fringe of his own fully indulged imagination and experimental impulse.
In its whopping scale and in its idiosyncratic personal mythos, it might remind one, in a cross-media way, of “Mind of the Mound, Trenton Coyle Hancock’s massive and delightful exhibit at MASS MoCA, where Flying Lotus performs on August 31. FlyLo’s current stage show is a work of visual art itself: a feast of irresponsible power consumption described by Rolling Stone as “a maximalist Brian Eno for the medical marijuana age…a live show that updates the psychedelic eye candy of golden-age Pink Floyd.” Flying Lotus swoops into North Adams on a limited tour, with a video wall, 3-D glasses for all and a lot of crazy, substantive music. Ticket prices begin at $35 in advance.
Not every abandoned husk of a small city factory can be repurposed as a thriving international art museum and performance venue, but the ones that have been provide a glimmer of hope, or at least a great weekend. MASS MoCA’s music season (keynoted by Wilco’s Solid Sound Festival earlier in the summer) continues with the Freshgrass festival on the weekend of September 20: a highly cerebral take on acoustic music featuring several megastars of the Aughts – Calexico, Andrew Bird, Iron and Wine, to name a few – as well as a fleet of progressive bluegrass mainstays (Tony Trischka, Darol Anger) and the ever-imperial Kronos Quartet playing some Pete Seeger in that exacting and clinical way of theirs. Visit https://massmoca.org/event/freshgrass-festival-2019 for the whole story.
Saturday, Aug. 31, 8 p.m., $35+
MASS MoCA, North Adams