The Creators Project @ DUMBO, Brooklyn, NY 10/15/11

Vice and Intel’s second annual Creators Project multimedia showcase moved to Brooklyn this year, opting for the open, scenic beauty of BK’s lush Brooklyn Heights neighborhood as opposed to the more cramped MILK Studios setup of last year. But, like last year, this year’s event showcased a broad spectrum of critically-respected musicians, both established (Florence & The Machine) and on-the-verge (ASAP Rocky) as well as supplementing the music with some pretty darn rad art installations, the giant light up cube in the Tobacco Warehouse space being the first thing that comes to mind. A lot of people laid inside the cube’s framework and let the dazzling light show blossom around them; I bet there’s a lot of people hitting up Missed Connections with posts that start “I saw you in the giant light up cube…”

The setup was basic and easy to navigate. The main performance spaces were set up on the far ends of where the festival had set up, which was basically the span of Water Street from Dock Street to Pearl Street alongside the river. One stage, the Tobacco Warehouse, hosted a small stage while the Archway Stage, which was in a giant archway underneath the Manhattan Bridge, was larger and generally more grandiose. Small issues plagued both sites — Justice was forced to stop playing early in their DJ set when the cops came and broke it up, citing a curfew, and ASAP Rocky’s beats were completely muddled in the archway’s reverberation — but for the most part, the sonic and performance quality were about as good as you can expect from an industry convention.

When it came to the performances, the clear standout was Florence & The Machine, who played a slew of solid new songs and lathered up the crowd with an epic version of “Dog Days Are Over” on the Archway stage, whose acoustics accented Florence’s grandiose, pummeling pop. Those same acoustics didn’t benefit ASAP Rocky, but that show, which followed a short set of Clams Casino’s own fine ambient, instrumental beatwork, was crowded with youthful exuberance, its head honcho reliant on his own gold-fronted-out beam, inviting people on stage and mixing it up in the crowd with reckless enthusiasm (when he did this during his last song, “Peso,” he never returned). Atlas Sound piled up waves of reverb at the Tobacco Stage, and John Maus charmed a new audience with his maniacally singular performance style, which is probably described best as a man having what seems to be a nervous breakdown set to a haunted, stuttering soundtrack. I got pretty bored with Justice — the way to experience that was probably to be inside the giant, pulsating cube while their set’s jams wafted in instead of watching the duo stare at a laptop screen — but my opinion was most likely not shared with the shoulder-to-shoulder throngs that packed that stage. Justice got cut off early, too — Justice’s Xavier de Rosnay put in his appeal by rushing back to the stage with both arms out in front of himself, thumbs squarely down, but somehow, this gesture didn’t achieve any progress.

Dap to the hosts, Vice and Intel, for its tasteful presentations, which included art installations and short films alongside the music. Though it was never unclear whose money this was — one friend was particularly into the light-projected flowers whose petals were Intel logos — there was something for everybody and nothing overly obnoxious and commercial springs to mind. It sounds like I made a big mistake not hitting the Life On Mars Revisited exhibit, so if that’s my only gripe, it’s one that I had a role in fostering.

Florence sounded the best, the most fun was had at ASAP Rocky (though I was admittedly up very close and nearly saw one of ASAP’s crew almost split his face open on a hidden pillar in a stage dive), and generally thought the audience vibe was friendly and laid-back. Make sure to hit Ryan Muir’s photo set for all the many sights of The Creators Project, and check out a few performance videos shot by fans at the fest.

ASAP Rocky “Bass” (with Clams Casino)

Florence & The Machine “Heartlines”

John Maus “Believer”