SummerStage photographs taken by @Dantana for Okayplayer.
What can we say about SummerStage at Central Park, one of the most iconic outdoor venues in the United States? Year after year (31, to be exact), SummerStage has put on their annual festival of the arts at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. This season’s festival series of 133 shows included Cymande with KING and Deva Mahal; Kamasi Washington (with Blue Note Jazz Fest); Trouble Funk with DJ Emz, Fat Joe with Tony Touch and Lyricist Lounge; Public Enemy with Ted Smooth; Mexrrissey (as part of LAMC); Unknown Mortal Orchestra with Empress of; Neon Indian; Mbongwana Star with Batida and Young Paris; Alpha Blondy; GoldLink and the entire line-up of the Charlie Parker Jazz festival: Jason Linder, Randy Weston, DeJohnette – Holland – Moran… just to name a few.
And for the second year in a row, the festival’s title sponsor, Capital One Bank, threw a raucous season finale concert with a massive bill of talent (last year’s event saw The Roots with special guests Marsha Ambrosius, Talib Kweli, Salt-N-Pepa, Common and Bilal) starring Janelle Monáe, Nate Ruess (of Fun.) and DJ Moma (Everyday People) that was free to Capital One card holders.
DJ Moma set the mood followed by a high energy performance by Nate Ruess who ran through solo hits, hits from his band Fun.; a solid-state cover of Elton John‘s “Rocket Man”; and finished up with the anthemic “We Are Young.”
Nate’s rain-dancing managed to keep Rumsey Field dry just in time for Janelle Monáe to shut it down with a smashing set of her own. James Brown was there in spirit and song form and Janelle spoke passionately about “Getting free” in her between-song miss, but her own passion, liberation and absolutely unstoppable fierceness was instantly communicated by her outfit of feathers and black & white striped knee-high socks and schoolgirl skirt, topped off by chameleon-eyed starchild shades. Looking like she had just bust out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with Icarus-wings of her own making, Ms. Monáe was not about to let summer go out quietly, and delivered on sound every bit as expressive as her look–all highlighted by a cover of Prince‘s “Let’s Go Crazy.”
The 2016 SummerStage season was definitely one for the books. We’ll miss you, Summer. Until next year.
"The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns. If artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.” — Terence McKenna