Brooklyn event series House of Vans kicked off their summer shows of 2014 on June 10, with a great line-up. Although it first seemed like it was going to rain, the weather held up after a few drops and once the doors opened – the vibes, man. The vibes. Excellent. Nothing makes our little hipster hearts laugh more than free beer, cheap tacos, and the opportunity to get a free baseball cap by following a brand partner of the event series on Instagram. All good things, only made better by the three acts that were about to hit the stage.

First of, ATO Records-freshman Benjamin Booker opened with his grimy, fast paced mix of punk and Rock’n’Roll, which subtly mixed the sounds of Muddy Waters, the Sex Pistols and Jack White protégée Dan Sartain. While the 22-year-old Booker lead the band with his ferocious, gnarling tenor somewhat resembling of The Vines’ Craig Nicholls (but in a good way), his band, consisting of drum and bass, followed with pointed, forceful drumming and a baseline that would made John Entwistle proud. The crowds loved it, and rewarded the three piece with a big round of applause, and a little moshpit.

Booker’s turnout was nothing compared what came next, as Mac DeMarco hit the stage. People everywhere, it was hard to get from A to B. DeMarco, only two years older than Booker, climbed the stage wearing his typical baseball cap and a Simpsons shirt, clearly embracing the uproar of the House of Vans pilgrims. This I had not expected. Every single person had migrated from the outside to inside the warehouse, except for the people standing in line at the food and beer trucks. Surely – MacDemarco is a talented kid, but the sheer amount of enthusiasm I did not expect. A girl next to me said what I was unconsciously thinking: “When did this kind of music get popular again?”

Here’s the thing about Mac DeMarco. His music is super chill, it’s a great jam to listen to, while you’re hanging out with friends, and just relaxing. It was fun to watch him, and he definitely put on a great show. Live, though, his music didn’t translate as well as his fellow acts at the House of Vans, young Booker and above all, the fabulous, the majestic, the sublime Charles Bradley.

Where to start when talking about him. Let’s first state the fact, that Charley Bradly has an tiny man with a great voice and a jewfro announcing him. If that’s not amazing right there, then I’m Mother Theresa. Let’s continue with the obvious: His amazing outfits. True to his past as a James Brown impersonator, he dressed first in a shimmering red suit, with a matching shirt and jacket, just to change half set to a sheer black ensemble mid set. But showmanship only makes half of a true artist (if even), the major selling point for him was the music, these, soulful, inspired songs. Seeing Charles Bradley live is the closest thing to ever seeing legends James Brown, Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.

A lot of people had, at that point, left, but us that remained danced with Bradley when he tore up the stage, cried with him when he sang his heart out about lost loves, and hardship in life, and celebrated with him the space that we cherish and live in. “Brooklyn!” Bradley had cried out in the beginning of his set with his rough speaking voice. “Brooklyn! I’m home!”

And yes, yes indeed he was.

By the end of his set everyone was sweating, smiling, and some were dripping – halfway through the set it had started to rain, and a couple of troupers just enjoyed the warm summer shower, dancing to Bradley’s tunes, drenched by raindrops. We slowly trickled off the premises, part of the smaller crowd that lead the way, out to the Brooklyn streets and fresh Brooklyn post-rain streets. House of Vans, you’ve done it again.

Article by: Julia Maehner

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