NASA Was "Out of This World" at the Bowery Ballroom

Jake Stavis

Last night’s performance by the extraordinary multi-national DJ duo N.A.S.A. (North America/ South America) was, to put it simply, out of this world. And if you’re not into predictable puns I would suggest you stop reading this post right now and just check out the pictures.

I must admit, I was at first unimpressed by opener Hollywood Holt, whose set seemed more like a sound check slash mediocre stand up gig, although he did have a few solid one liners. If nothing else, Hollywood was confidently self-aware of his rep: “How many people in here know who I am?,” he asked, and after a brief headcount he gratefully concluded “nine mothafuckas” were aware of his greatness. The highlight of Hollywood’s set in my opinion was a little ditty that began with “nigga, shut the fuck up about my outfit.” I’m not sure of the real title, but you get the idea. Then there was something about “ballin’ ass Versace shades” and a brief lesson in “jukin” before the man clad in “love-suspenders” introduced our main act.

N.A.S.A. is the musical brainchild of Squeak E. Clean (Sam Spiegel) and DJ Zegon (Ze Gonzales) “conceived in a crowded party in Sao Paulo and nurtured by a shared love of vintage Brazilian soul and funk records.” Artists including but certainly not limited to Method Man, Karen O, Tom Waits, and Spank Rock all contributed to the project, and the results really speak for themselves. I had no idea what to expect from these two live.

The lights dimmed and a man donning full robot/astronaut attire shushed the crowd, as a vintage film reel was projected behind the tables. It was then that our metallic-parka clad heroes strode onto the stage and the crowd started to get loud. As soon as they started to play, one could sense something was off. Squeak E. Clean kept motioning off stage to raise the volume, and after about three minutes I was underwhelmed. Nonetheless something finally kicked in and the audience went wild. As the DJs flooded the room with sound, the “intergalactic dancers” made their way out onto the stage to accompany the lone robot. I was a little weirded out, but it was definitely impressive; how they dancers moved with such costumes, I’m still confused.

The show continued and Squeak E. Clean at one point invited his mother on stage, who seemed overjoyed with the whole experience. After maybe an hour and a half of nonstop music, the two slowed it down and invited album contributor Barbie Hatch on stage. The buxom blonde in a black romper serenaded the crowd while the DJs continued to spin in the background. The vibe was a little more chill but still had a distinctly N.A.S.A. feel.

The DJs signed off shortly after Hatch’s performance, but the room was hyped and everyone was in high hopes of an encore. A couple minutes later the two reappeared and it was as if they had never left. Kanye West’s face appeared on the screen for the “performance” of the album’s single “Gifted” (also featuring Swedish songstress Lykke Li and Brooklyn’s own Santigold), and as the request of the DJs a “stage party” commenced. To be perfectly honest, shit got loose (and I mean that in the best of ways). But then again, how many opportunities does one have to drunkenly dry-hump a Cyclops?

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