This weekend I had the opportunity to experience a truly unique and satisfying concert experience called “Warm Up” held at the MoMA PS1 in Long Island City. Nestled in a quiet artistic neighborhood in Queens, the concert was unique for a number of reasons. To begin with, I felt I got what I paid for: 15 dollars got me into the full range of the museum’s exhibits as well as paid for my admission into the show which lasted from 2PM until 9PM and featured up and coming acts as well as the internationally recognized Simian Mobile Disco.
My friends and I showed up around noon so that we could meander through the exhibits which consisted of some guns made from film equipment, uncut footage from an indie film featuring James Franco: , and the photographic journey of a girl who invited herself into random men’s homes and took pictures of herself crying every day for a year. I couldn’t make this stuff up, its modern art.
After being thoroughly wierded out by theart on display we decided to grab some beers at a bar across the street before the show (they were 6 bucks for a 12 oz. cup inside the museum.) This bar was clearly making a profit from this price discrepancy as it was packed with hipsters all wearing the PS1 wristband. We made friends with the Egyptian bartender, pounded some shots, and stumbled back into the museum.
It was at this point of inebriation that I realized the true power of the courtyard project: the cultivation of a unique (or trendy) atmosphere to party in. As a designer I am most interested in the art of public assembly and how our environment affects the way in which we drink, flirt, dance, and “vibe”. I must say that the courtyard (where the show took place) was definitely a pleasant environment to do all of the above.
Each year MoMa selects one young architecture firm’s submission for the design of the courtyard (previous winners have been SHoP Architects and Emergent Studios) in a competition called the Young Architects Program that is now in its 14th year. This year’s winner was called “Holding Patterns” designed by Interboro Partners to include the entire courtyard (for the first time) in a recycled rope canopy that stretched from the top of the museum to the courtyard walls. Inside the courtyard were foosball tables, chase lounges, ping pong tables, planted trees, and small pools and misters for the over danced.
In one side room the architects had included a fully functioning “regulated ecosystem” where trees grew from a mixture of hay and sod, and a second room covered in mirrors later became the hangout spot for the emphatically “spun.” I felt very comfortable in this environment, trees broke up the crushing agoraphobia often experienced in these sorts of outdoor venues and strategically placed benches gave the audience a chance to view from a distance.
In my state I couldn’t help but smile and wish that every outdoor music experience I had was as refined (and economic,) and of course proceeded to announce this publicly. After dancing away merrily for hours I took some time to relax in the forest room and realized immediately how much the sound was deadened; people were talking in normal speaking voices! I was able to make small talk with a few socialites while I regained the energy to continue dancing, and found out that all of the materials used in the project were chosen by local farmers markets and schools as things that they could use at the end of the concert series.
And there it was: A sustainable, economic, elegant, and well planned party, complete with sexy, inebriated, young people, a solid line up of international acts, and free admission to an art exhibit. I couldn’t help but wonder why every music festival I’d ever been to wasn’t designed by Architects. As I left, satisfied and exhausted, I realized the people leaving around me were experiencing a similar satisfaction and that perhaps the best concert I had been to this summer was in a museum.