In a monolith to our generation and all of its quirks, the celestial bodies aligned at the Regency Ballroom this weekend for the two-day Bicycle Day spectacle featuring the artwork of Alex and Allyson Grey.
Surrounded by eccentricity and a battalion of progressive artists and producers, the power couple painted live on the main stage of the Regency to the musical stylings of Gibbz, Exmag, Gramatik, and Lotus.
Holding it down for fellow funk-ophiles, Exmag sent the crowd into a frenzy with a stirring remix of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity”. Finding perfect harmony between synthetic sounds and live guitar overlays, tracks such as “Nu Funk Odyssey” had the room bouncing and set the stage for the entrance of the featured artists.
Getting right down to business, the Greys immediately picked up where they left off on their paintings from Saturday night. Both quite unique in their styles, Allyson delved deeper into her more minimal, line-based painting while her husband brought to life a cannabis-clad Christ in celebration of the holiday season. Backed by an electrifying set from Gramatik and a dazzling light show, euphoria falls short of expressing the energy that swelled from the audience as the captivating vibrations and sensational talent induced collective surrender. While the band was keeping it fresh with swing samples and a remix of Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition,” the artists channeled the good vibes emanating from the jiving throng of admirers to achieve ultimate expressionism in their respective pieces.
As if this wasn’t enough psychedelic stimulation for the carnival-esque crowd, the ballroom featured two more stages with a diverse assortment of activities and elements scattered throughout the building. The top floor– a red velvet ballroom– was like something out of the 20s, featuring a gallery of New Age art (including some Alex Grey originals) so magnificent that it would turn even the most callous observer into an ardent advocate. As patrons perused this spiritual maze of creativity, booming bass from a DJ booth shrouded by an indoor forest and more live painting sent everyone into a blitz on the dance floor.
Descending in an elevator that could have been featured in the film Titanic, the basement was something out of dream. While simultaneously calling upon the ambiances of the African desert and a whitewashed railway atrium, this heavenly lower level housed merchants peddling all sorts of wares from exotic crystals to pinecone necklaces. For our dancing pleasure, Random Rab threw down a set to remember that had something to offer for each individual’s late-night fantasy.
While there were entirely too many wonderful sights to be seen and fully appreciated in this imaginative funhouse, I think we all found what we were looking for this weekend. The event organizers succeeded in bottling up the energy and life force of an outdoor music festival and redirecting it inside the confines of one building in the heart of San Francisco. The end result was nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Too often is our generation criticized for impersonality with encroaching technological disconnect that few take the time to acknowledge the vibrant counterculture that is bubbling through of the cracks in our societal mold. There is truly a new wave of artists and musicians who are striving to encapsulate this movement and express its many intricacies in events just such as this. While it is easy to condemn us as “burners” and “party animals” from the soapbox of righteousness, there is something to be discovered in letting go of social constructs and getting lost in an emotion or an expression. In this light, artists such as Alex and Allyson Grey are true revolutionaries and have brought out a new age of expressionist art as they undertake efforts in show-specific paintings staged to show-specific sets by some of the best DJs and groups in the game. Their pieces may not yet be selling for quite the level that the French masters of old go for in bourgeoisie auction rooms, but they are inspiring a new body of work that is just as impressive and worthy of accolade in even the most exclusive communities of critics. Hold on to your top hats because I think we are all in for quite the paradigm shift.