If the natural wine bars of New York seemed a little empty to you the past two nights, you're not imagining things: The city's creative class was being taken to ecstasy by Jai Paul.
At Knockdown Center in Queens on Tuesday night and at Brooklyn Steel on Wednesday, the enigmatic British musician delivered on the promise of his lo-fi pop in his first set of live performances in New York City, coming from his debut shows at Coachella the preceding weekends. After his massively influential pop demos leaked in 2013, Jai Paul fled the scene, seemingly devastated by the loss of artistic control. Paul didn't return with new music until 2019, and never performed live until this year.
In Queens, arriving 30 minutes late to the stage at 9:30, the singer joked, "What's 30 minutes after 10 years?" With his face hidden behind a curtain of hair, and in a white tracksuit, he looked messianic. The crowd, dressed chicly in chore coats and work shirts, did not seem to mind. In fact, the energy inside Knockdown Center was white hot—I've never seen selvedge denim move quite like it did on Tuesday night.
The audience arrived primly dressed, but left having worked up a sweat. The acoustics in the cavernous Knockdown Center softened Paul's already vibey music into a blanket of reverberation, but at the end, when hits like "BTSTU" and the Bollywood-sampling "Str8 Outta Mumbai" landed, they seemed to hit with the entire force of the intervening decade behind them, and got the associate creative directors gathered in Maspeth into an absolute frenzy. It was worth the wait.
Mayor Eric Adams defended the NYPD’s bloated overtime costs, via the Daily News: "'I said, 'Is it that you dislike overtime, or you dislike the NYPD?' Because I never hear them talking about overtime in any of the other agencies. In all the agencies, I have overtime,’ said Adams, who retired from the NYPD as a captain. 'But no one gets riled up with overtime in parks, in HRA. Nobody gets riled up in overtime anywhere else but the New York City police department,' he said referring to the Parks Department and the city's Human Resources Administration, which falls under the umbrella of the Department of Social Services. 'That's all we focus on—NYPD. So is it anti-overtime? Or is it anti-police? And if it's anti-police, shame on us.'"