For Gramatik, the artistic moniker of Denis Jasarevic, creating music is more than sick beats and bright lights. It’s about spreading a message through story and performance; surprising audiences with a live music performance art experience that they’ll be talking about for the rest of their lives. The electro and instrumental hip-hop producer premiered his Epigram World Tour last Saturday, February 20th at the Playstation Theater in New York City. Gramatik rocked the sold out venue with guest musicians that rocked the guitar, trumpet, and sax. The entire set kept the the audience guessing with a fusion of hip-hop beats and electro breakdowns.
Before Gramatik took the stage, Alexander Lewis, joined by surprise guest Brasstracks, got the theater dancing to their mix of jazz and electronica. Sweater Beats followed with originals and remixes of popular songs like The Weekend’s “The Hills” and Alessia Cara’s “Here.”
Fans carried blow-up neon plastic saxophones and crayons, hats from Holy Ship (where Gramatik recently performed) and even furry rave attire. There were a few hoopers and flow toys with LED lights dazzling onlookers, people with costumes (Did you see the guy with the dinosaur tail?), and for the most part lots of regular people of all ages happily dancing and capturing memories. Festival season was definitely in the air. Even a few cheers of, “Carl? Where’s Carl?!” were heard in the crowd before it faded out and fans were sucked back into the hypnotizing music, lights, and visuals.
“Y’all ready for that Epigram shit? Make some noise right now!” yelled Adrian Lau, the Queens, NY rapper and guest of Gramatik’s, who raised the audience’s energy exponentially before Gramatik took the stage. Another surprise guest appearance was Andrew Block, who jammed on the guitar and electrified the audience with blues and soulful riffs reminiscent of his New Orlean roots.
“What’s Good New York!?” announced the shade-wearing, casually dressed producer from behind his Macbook. The theater was LOUD as Gramatik, Lau, and Block began their jam. Gramatik played for two hours, dropping tracks that mixed swing, hip hop, instrumentals, and various other styles. To get a feel for the types of tracks he plays on this tour, check out his Epigram Tour playlist.
Gramatik’s entire discography is available free to download from his website. No one is obligated to pay for his music, but you can donate if you want to. In a recent interview for Sensible Reason: Gramatik explains why he believes music, information and learning should be free for everyone:
“If it wasn’t for piracy and torrent sites, I wouldn’t be talking to you right now. I’d be working a shitty job back in my hometown. As I became “famous” on the internet, I was finally able to afford all these things by making money off of playing shows. So not only do I objectively believe it’s morally right for music to be primarily free, it’s also subjectively the right thing to do in my case. Lastly, in the age of the internet, there are people who take pride in paying for music, they will buy it no matter what, and there are people who don’t like paying for music (or simply can’t afford it), they will pirate it no matter what.”
Throughout Gramatik’s performance, political messages were found, including images of Guy Fawkes masks (the Anonymous symbol), robot armies, bursts of light shown on graphics of machinery and gears, and colorful electronic waves and patterns that moved in time with the music.
The non-profit organization Rock the Earth also came out to Playstation Theater, with a table setup near the bar and Playstation video games (since Playstation’s takeover of the former Best Buy Theater, new video games on Playstation 4 are available to play for FREE before every show! Pretty sweet.) “We’re an environmental non-profit and partner with the music community,” said Alli Dina Kruk, who was tabling at the show for Rock the Earth, signing up Gramatik fans for the organization’s mailing list. Art work of concert posters were available depending on how much people wanted to donate to the charity. “We have a team of scientists and lawyers that litigate for their [environmental] projects, “ Kruk added. Rock the Earth will also be represented at Moe on March 17 and Datsik on April 2, both at Playstation Theater.
What’s next for Gramatik? Upcoming highlights of his tour include the Okeechobee Music Festival in Florida in March, Mysteryland in May, Red Rocks Ampitheatre in CO and the Summer Camp Festival in Illinois (both in June), and Electric Zoo over Labor Day Weekend. In between he’ll be all over the world and across the U.S., but we’ll have to wait until his next tour to see him again in NYC. For more pictures from Gramatik’s February 20th show, check out the full Good Looks Collective album on Facebook!