As an avid hip hop fan and participant, I feel renewed while listening, dancing, and grooving to beats, rhymes & riddles within a full range of music. This past Saturday night, I attended DegFest 2016 in Thermal to enjoy a live performance by Hodgy Beats, an American rapper, singer and record producer, who is known for his “strong lyrical wordplay & effortless flow” (Hot New Hip Hop.com). He is a member of the hip hop collective Odd Future as well as the former duo MellowHype with Left Brain, and MellowHigh with Domo Genesis.
“Welcome to Coachella 2.0”, the young man says amiably after granting us admission to DegFest 2016. My friend and I smiled, adjusted our orange wristbands in the moonlight, and slowly swung into a tight parking spot between a tree and a big pick-up truck. An intimate gathering of Hodgy Beats fans were as close as possible to the lit-up stage.
When the artist introduced himself on the microphone, he casually announced he didn’t have a set list prepared. I loved it! This improvisational spirit, to me, is at the heart of innovative forms like hip hop. In between songs, he would take his time–connecting with the DJ onstage, and sharing a relaxed joke with the crowd. Keeping it simple with an emcee and a DJ, the vibe of mellow grooves and loud bass echoed the dynamism of the art installations nearby.
I viewed two art installations by LQAF Scholarship Winner Chris Sanchez, a 25-year-old self-taught artist who has painted murals under the name Kas Infinite. Throughout the night, people would approach the multimedia piece and often take a particular shape or stance. One young woman sat cross-legged in front of the video piece for about twenty minutes, clearly entranced by the shifting color palettes.
Facing his friends for a photo-opp, a young man stood front and center of the work, where he suddenly became the focal point for illustrating the work’s approachable scale.
However, when the human figure was absent the installation, the site seemed to expand and contract the space. It picked up on the environmental textures nearby: desert leaves wiggling in the faint breeze, flying insects looping near the lamplights, dogs keeping a watchful distance near the fence–all the elements were creating a palpable buzz.
When the abstract diagonals and vectors vibrated onscreen, I noticed the starry constellations of the night sky as well as the lights beaming from the second art installation.
The neon lights and layered lines on the shipping container reminded me of graffiti’s bright splashes and expressive marks. The color of the lighting shifted gradually, which evoked a mysterious mood to the outdoor setting.
Learn more about Kas Infinite in the interview “Biller on Art: Coachella Artist Will Propel His Career With One of 17 LQAF Scholarships“.
Brittany Delany is Executive Assistant/Programs Coordinator at La Quinta Arts Foundation.