“I don’t know much about New York, but I know it’s fun,” yelped an eager Long Beach DJ named Ankle Sandwich in the packed Williamsburg ballroom. Encouraged by the outlines of a sporadically forming mosh pit, he spent much of the time hyping the crowd, when not visibly exhausting himself. More energy was to come. The DJ was the sole opener for Paris, Texas, one of the more striking rap duos to emerge, mildly re-formed, out of the midst of pandemic-era culture.
Performing in the neighborhood for the first time since an early debut showing at Baby’s All Right, the pair were in tight, raw form, bolting jolts of electricity that bounced side to side on stage. The 16+ crowd of Brooklyn hypebeasts who filled the sold out show could hardly compare to the sweaty, precise energy coming from Louie Pastel and Felix, college friends who have been making music together since 2018. After years of false starts (“Life changed dramatically,” Felix told Esquire earlier this year), they showed up in 2021 with a record called “HEAVY METAL” which did numbers in the U.K., where an NME writer celebrated its “louche bars detailing feelings of self-doubt, paranoia and pure, unbridled bloodlust.”
The new material carried similar anxieties. A stirring, let-set performance of “Ain’t No High,” from their new album Mid Air, a semi-acoustic record that evokes the late summer night sky angst of Kevin Abstract’s solo work, felt almost spiritual that night in Brooklyn. In moments like these, Louie Pastel’s thin arms would seemingly reach upward, forward into the crowd.
Finally, the duo took the crowd of on a little memory ride with the encores, pulling numbers from some of the group’s early mixtape and EPs; most pleasingly, perhaps, the buzzsaw riff of “RHM,” a rap rave record that sounds like what the future sounded like in 2012.
Mid Air is out now.
Images taken by Andrew Karpan.
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