New York Central Park Summerstage

Wonderfully free...

Amid fireflies and vagrants, [a]Roni Size[/a] and [a]Reprazent[/a] descend on New York City‘s Central Park for the first of two back-to-back shows in the Big Apple.

Tonight’s performance is wonderfully free, which really means that it comes with a price: people. Lots of ’em. In fact, so many show up to see Size and opener Anoushka Shankar, that the park closes all entrances to the concert, leaving the outer grounds looking like a way station to Woodstock (the 1999 edition, of course).

Size and the [a]Reprazent[/a] DJs, including Krust, Die and SUV, immediately cut to the drum ‘n’ bass that worked so well for them on 1997’s acclaimed ‘New Forms’. With four DJs at computers creating sounds at speeds real instruments could only dream of, it seems the future of music is now, here, in this clearing in the woods within the harshest of metropolises.

But the vocal stylings of Dynamite MC and Onalee inject a human touch into Size‘s largely inhuman orchestra, as does the crowd’s elated response to certain moments of drum ‘n’ bass abandon. ‘Brown Paper Bag’ is an especially big hit, causing onlookers to bob in unison, their beers flying up toward the night sky.

Dynamite MC works the crowd like a rap concert, and in a way it is. The melding of hip-hop and drum ‘n’ bass is what makes Size‘s sound so unique, and he has said that [a]Reprazent[/a]’s new studio album, which comes out in October, will be harder and more hip-hop-oriented than ‘New Forms’. Several numbers tonight represent that new direction, including ‘Balanced Chaos’ ‘Lucky Pressure’ and ‘Who Told You’.

While the new tracks don’t evoke the same skittish movements as Size‘s tried and true drum ‘n’ bass, they do inspire a sort of hands-in-the-air surrender to the beats. But when one man jumps onstage and nearly hurts someone on his way back down, Dynamite MC stops singing altogether to scold the chump and exclaim, “See the effect this music has on people?”

Yes, indeed.