Brooklyn Comes Alive returned to The Brooklyn Mirage on Saturday for its 2022 edition with a potent mix of new projects, rare collaborations, and nationally touring heavy-hitters including STS9, Lettuce, Medeski Martin & Wood, and Cool Cool Cool. View recaps, videos, and setlists from each performance below and scroll down to the bottom for an extensive gallery of photos from throughout the night.
Cool Cool Cool
As the sun set behind the courtyard venue’s palatial walls, Cool Cool Cool got the marathon night of music started with a eclectic dance party. Led by Craig Brodhead (guitar, keys), Chris Brouwers (trumpet, keys), Michelangelo Carubba (drums), Shira Elias (vocals), Sammi Garett (vocals), and Greg Sanderson (saxophone) alongside special guests Nate Edgar (bass, The Nth Power) and Collin Miller (guitar, vocals, The Brother Nature), the new yet familiar outfit showcased its component parts with selections from the members’ various projects. Highlights included renditions of Swatkins & The Positive Agenda‘s glistening “Gotta Give It Away“, which features Brodhead and Carubba, Elias’s soul-funk kiss-off anthem “NAH“, Garett’s candy-sweet “With You“, and Brodhead’s electronic-leaning DJ Yesmann creation, “Tied Up” .
In addition to celebrating a contemporary peer with a run through Xavier Lynn‘s “Make It Thru”, Cool Cool Cool filled out the remaining slots in its debut setlist with covers of Graham Central Station‘s “Hair”, Sly & The Family Stone‘s “Sing A Simple Song”, and an extended reading of Marvin Gaye‘s “Baby Don’t You Do It” in the style of The Band‘s recreation, “Don’t Do It”. A cover of Fleetwood Mac Rumours classic “The Chain”—a resonant selection for this particular group of musicians—finally brought the set to a close.
Cool Cool Cool – “Don’t Do It” (The Band, partial) – Brooklyn Comes Alive 2022
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Setlist: Cool Cool Cool | Brooklyn Comes Alive | The Brooklyn Mirage | Brooklyn, NY | 9/17/22
Set: Gotta Give It Away (Swatkins & The Positive Agenda), NAH (Shira Elias), Don’t Do It (The Band), With You (Sammi Garett), Hair (Graham Central Station), Make It Through (Xavier Lynn), Sing A Simple Song (Sly & The Family Stone), Tied Up (DJ Yesmann/Craig Brodhead), The Chain (Fleetwood Mac)
Medeski Martin & Wood
Medeski Martin & Wood are as adored as they are elusive, and the anticipation in the crowd had reached a rolling boil by the time organist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin, and bassist Chris Wood took the stage for their first show since 2019.
Reuniting for a rare performance in celebration of their 30th anniversary as a band, Medeski Martin & Wood delivered a dramatic reminder that if you give them a room—or an outdoor courtyard in this case—they can do the rest. Over the course of a 90-minute set, the illustrious trio embodied its trademark avant-groove style, expertly building tension with free improvisations before dropping into deep instrumental funk grooves that elicited cheers from the crowd more than once. “Start-Stop” was the best example of this, but the pattern of tension and release was ubiquitous throughout the performance.
The audience, though mostly too young to have experienced the trio in its heyday, stood enraptured as the band recounted MMW earworms including “Coconut Boogaloo”, “Nocturnal Transmission”, “Just Like I Pictured It”, and “Shacklyn Knights”. The energy was electric, and the band definitely felt it. “Really great playing Medeski Martin & Wood reunion…it’s hard to beat 30+ years of chemistry,” John Medeski said in a social media post after the show. “Hope it happens again!!”
Medeski Martin & Wood – “Start-Stop” – Brooklyn Comes Alive 2022
[Video: Karen Dugan]
Medeski Martin & Wood – “Queen Bee” – Brooklyn Comes Alive 2022
Setlist: Medeski Martin & Wood | Brooklyn Comes Alive | The Brooklyn Mirage | Brooklyn, NY | 9/17/22
Set: Philly Cheese Blunt, Night Marchers, Coconut Boogaloo, Shacklyn Knights, Last Chance to Dance Trance, Henduck, Just Like I Pictured It, Start-Stop, Nocturne, Big Time , Nocturnal Transmission, Queen Bee
Note: Setlist may be incomplete
Though the individual members of the forward-thinking funk sextet Lettuce have all delivered memorable sets at Brooklyn Comes Alive in years past, this year marked the first official Lettuce performance at the festival as well as the band’s first-ever show at The Brooklyn Mirage. The group—comprised of Adam Deitch (drums), Adam Shmeeans Smirnoff (guitar), Erick “Jesus” Coomes (bass), Ryan Zoidis (saxophones), Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), and Nigel Hall (keys/vocals)—met the moment with an inspired set that integrated the finer points of electronic and hip-hop styles under the glow of the venue’s sprawling LED video wall.
A rare “Phyllis” opener, reworked with a new intro, featured an homage to Brooklyn legend The Notorious B.I.G. via a pronounced detour through “Only You“, Biggie’s 1995 collab with 112. The venue truly came alive during “House of Lett” as the massive LED wall behind the stage powered on for the first time with visuals extrapolated from 2016’s Crush: A Funk Odyssey. A pulverizing “Trapezoid” (Elevate, 2018) and a diabolical gallop through Unify crown jewel “Vámonos” followed with invigorated purpose.
Despite the fact that vocalist/keyboardist Nigel Hall was appropriately dripping in New York Knicks gear, he insisted on taking things down to the District with an electrifying romp through Chuck Brown’s Go-Go-fied version of Sly Stone staple “Family Affair”, a fitting choice to celebrate the intertwined creative connections represented at Brooklyn Comes Alive. A mammoth “Let It GOGO” rumbled in from there, shaking the foundation of the Brooklyn live music oasis.
Hall took the mic again to lead the group through a refreshed interpretation of their “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” cover that swayed its way into D’Angelo “Brown Sugar” territory. Throwback jam “Squadlive” and a syrupy, syncopated “Gravy Train” set up the group’s unique approach to The Clark Sisters‘ “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright”, the gospel energy washing over the sea of ragers lost in the LETT sauce. To bring it on home, the squadron charged through a bombastic version of “Madison Square” complete with dubtronic jam and a triumphant climax—the appropriate crunkalogic coda to a Herculean homecoming.
Lettuce – “House of Lett” > “The Flu” – Brooklyn Comes Alive 2022
Lettuce – The Brooklyn Mirage – Brooklyn, NY – 9/17/22
Setlist: Lettuce | Brooklyn Comes Alive | The Brooklyn Mirage | Brooklyn, NY | 9/17/22
Set: Phyllis > House of Lett > The Flu > Trapezoid > Vámonos, Family Affair (Sly & The Family Stone) > Let It GOGO > Everybody Wants To Rule The World (Tears For Fears, Remixed), Squadlive, Gravy Train, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright > Madison Square
The Brooklyn Mirage stage was plenty warm by the time STS9 emerged for their festival-closing set, but the livetronica stalwarts managed to raise the temperature even higher with their two-hour performance.
The band—comprised of Hunter Brown (guitar), Alana Rocklin (bass), Jeffree Lerner (percussion), David Phipps (keys), and Zach Velmer (drums)—led the masses at the Mirage down a winding road featuring extended takes on “Big Basin”, “Frequencies Peace 1 > 2 > 3”, “Like I Do”, and “Arigato”. A highlight of the performance followed with a primal “Move My Peeps” > “New Forms” > “Move My Peeps” that trudged through a drum and bass freakout to the audible elation of the crowd.
After a powerful “Potamus”, an enveloping “20-12”, and a driving “Be Nice” seemed to match the grandeur of the venue’s sky-scraping visuals, STS9 brought the proceedings to a climax with an emphatic “Scheme” > “Rent” pairing.
STS9 – Brooklyn Comes Alive 2022
Setlist: STS9 | Brooklyn Comes Alive | The Brooklyn Mirage | Brooklyn, NY | 9/17/22
Set: Big Basin > Frequencies Peace 1 > 2 > 3, Like I Do, Menacer > Arigato, Move My Peeps > New Forms > Move My Peeps, Potamus, 20-12, Be Nice, Scheme > Rent
Subscribe to STS9’s Bandcamp here for a full audio recording of the late-night set.
Check out photo galleries from the marathon night of music below courtesy of Andrew Blackstein, Jason Myers, and Ken Spielman. Thanks to everyone who came out and came alive with us at Brooklyn Comes Alive 2022!