[UPDATE 8/18/22]: As we prepare to return to The Brooklyn Mirage on Saturday, September 17th for Brooklyn Comes Alive 2022 featuring livetronica heroes STS9, avant-groove explorers Medeski Martin & Wood, future-funk sextet Lettuce, and the debut of Cool Cool Cool, a new project from former members of Turkuaz, we’re taking a look back at the highlights from the 2021 edition of the event.
[9/27/21]: On Sunday, September 26th, 2021 full-day music marathon Brooklyn Comes Alive returned to action in the sprawling urban oasis of The Brooklyn Mirage.
After an introduction by host Ari Fink (SiriusXM), local native bassist/bandleader Karina Rykman got the party started with an energetic performance by her eponymous power trio featuring a guest appearance by Marlo Shankweiler, the Melt guitarist who played with Rykman throughout the pandemic as part of her “quarantine band.” Karina’s Brooklyn Comes Alive duties were far from done after her band’s set, however, as she stuck around to DJ and banter with Fink during set breaks throughout the day.
Next up was the first-ever expedition by the avant-garde trio of John Medeski (Medeski Martin & Wood), Joe Russo (Joe Russo’s Almost Dead), and Dave Harrington (Darkside). These three intrepid improvisers were quick to get weird, exploring everything from tribal drones to pleasant melodies to Benevento/Russo Duo-like driving jams throughout their off-the-cuff session.
With Harrington switching between guitar and bass, Russo employing a range of percussion instruments in addition to his drum kit, and Medeski sprinkling in ideas from his organ, this trio felt like it could have taken any number of creative pathways. Here’s hoping they get together again to explore a few more.
As the sun set over the city—offering breathtaking views of the NYC skyline from the venue’s towering catwalk Break Science took over the BCA stage with a never-before-seen live band lineup featuring core duo Adam Deitch (drums) and Borahm Lee (keyboards, production) alongside turntablist Chris Karns, bassist Hunter Roberts, and trumpeter Eric “Benny” Bloom (Lettuce).
Lee, in particular, shined in this new formation. With his left hand freed up by Roberts and his production duties bolstered by Karns, Borahm was able to show off more of his classically trained piano mastery. The result was a refreshing, jazz/soul-oriented sound rather than the harder-edged, dubstep-facing Break Science of old.
Colorado favorites The Motet took the stage next for a proper funk dance party. Drummer Dave Watts, guitarist Ryan Jalbert, bassist Garrett Sayers, keyboardist Joey Porter, and saxophonist Drew Sayers got into the collaborative spirit of BCA early on in their set when they welcomed out “Benny” Bloom and guitarist Jeremy Schon (Pigeons Playing Ping Pong) for “Fearless”. Schon stuck around from there to trade lines with Jalbert on “Nemesis”. Later, vocalist Shira Elias (Turkuaz) joined in to rock the mic on “Highly Compatible” and “And The Beat Goes On” before all three guests joined in again on “Death or Devotion” and a set-closing “Get It Right”.
Finally, The Disco Biscuits took the stage for a full, two-set show complete with full-venue projection mapping and other elaborate production elements. After opening their first set with “Helicopters” and the newer “Running into the Night”, the band moved into Blondie‘s “Rapture”, which they have played as an instrumental on various occasions at recent shows. This time, however, the band brought Elias to the stage to contribute Debbie Harry‘s dreamy vocal part to the performance. A celebratory “42” rounded out set one.
With one more set left in an eclectic day of live music, The Disco Biscuits dove in with “Pilin’ It Higher” before moving into the set’s highlight segment, an “I-Man” that wove its way through “M1”. Finally, after working through “Evolve”, the Biscuits landed back in “Helicopters”, closing the show as it began.
Below, you can check out galleries of photos from each set at Brooklyn Comes Alive 2021 via photographer Andrew Blackstein.