Countdown to 2012: Kung Fu, Brownie, Magner & Deitch

DJ Spooky, Kung Fu, BMD Jam Session @ Canal Room, December 16

Any show billed as a “celebration of new planetary consciousness” has some pretty hefty hype to live up to. Thankfully, the Countdown to 2012 extravaganza at New York City’s historic Canal Room launched the audience into this new frontier with a multimedia marathon that spun well into Saturday morning – and all for a good cause, too.

[Photo by Nicholas Fitanides]

Organized by 13:28 Productions, the event kicked off a countdown to the Winter Solstice of 2012, which is thought to close out the Great Cycle and usher in the Noosphere – the next stage in new planetary consciousness. After an opening “invocation and activation ceremony,” the crowd quickly found its footing with DJ Spooky at the helm. An electronic and experimental artist whose genius spans well beyond the musical realm, the man is a legend who stands suave and confident behind his palate of gadgets on stage. With the quick twist of a knob and the tap of a touchscreen (he’s created his own iPhone App, by the way…), DJ Spooky transmits a vibe that is just as energized as it is cool and collected.

Up next was Kung Fu, a powerhouse of a band that brings nothing short of a jazz/funk/fusion assault each and every time it takes the stage. The guys came out swinging, playing noticeably tight, focused and intense, as if to command the crowd’s attention right from the opening notes. Kung Fu’s music is danceable yet intricate, and the crowd didn’t miss a beat. Bursts of applause at all the right moments gave the band confidence to spread its wings, and as the set went deeper, so did the music. Once again, these guys slaughtered it. Kung Fu formed two years ago and consists of Tim Palmieri (The Breakfast) on guitar, Todd Stoops (RAQ) on keys, Rob Somerville (Deep Banana Blackout) on sax, David Livolsi (Jazz is Dead) on bass and Adrian Tramontano (The Breakfast) on drums.

[Photo by Diana Costello]

At this point it was nearly 2AM, but the excitement was palpable as the evening transitioned to the main event: a special performance featuring Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner (The Disco Biscuits, Conspirator) and Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Break Science, Pretty Lights). While these three are no strangers to one another, and Deitch has performed with Conspirator in the past, it nevertheless is a rare treat to see them share the stage. As one could imagine, the beats were heavy and the peaks were high. Only in New York City does a show seem to end too soon even when it’s nearly 4AM. But such as it is when the band on stage is nasty incarnate. I know I’m not alone when I say I hope this trio comes together more often.

[Photo by Nicholas Fitanides]

Throughout the night the crowd was treated to a stimulating swirl of projectionist art created by Scott Draves, aka SPOT, and the seamless mixing of intermezzo sets by SYNCHRO. Proceeds from the event will benefit the National Brain Tumor Society in honor of Terence McKenna, an author, speaker and visionary who passed away in 2000. For more information about the Countdown to 2012, visit

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