One of the most fascinating things I saw at my first Bonnaroo, amidst the sea of outrageously fascinating things ones sees at his or her first Bonnaroo, came as I wandered aimless and barefoot around Centeroo after taking in as much of the after-hours sets as my drug-addled and exhausted body could handle. Off in the distance I noticed a group of late-night revelers moving in decided unison without hearing anything coming from their particular direction other than the ambient festival drone that probably stretched for miles across the Tennessee countryside. Only after getting up close and personal did I begin to grasp what was going on: there was, in fact a DJ, but his rig was hooked up to a transmitter instead of an PA system; and only those in the crowd of wireless headphone-wearing participants were in on the rager.
I was witnessing my first “Silent Disco”, a novel experiment in performance art and entertainment. Popularized at outdoor musical festivals looking to keep the party going after local noise ordinances took hold, Silent Discos are at once perfectly inclusive and blithely exclusive; and may be almost as enjoyable for those watching from the sidelines as for those in the private universe of the synced up headphones. With the always-decreasing cost of technology and more and more audio equipment manufacturers getting in on the game, Silent Discos have spread beyond festivals are now the provenance of bars, clubs and even house parties. This weekend, back-to-back local events bring the trend to the New Orleans.
On Friday at Cafe Prytania, female-duo Spirit Animals will get the party started before Jermaine Quiz, Sir Shitz A Lot and Gangbusters compete for your attention. Saturday, however, could bring the Silent Disco fad to a most outlandish apex as Rusty Lazer – the man behind the monumental rise of sissy bounce and one of the best ambassadors for New Orleans’ long tradition of gritty and glorious street music – hosts what may be the world’s first Silent Shake-Off. DJs Lady Business, SirReal, Rotten Milk and more will help provide the soundtrack to an all-night dance party that will probably have to be seen to be believed.
Check out our New Orleans Music Calendar for a full slate of constantly updated live picks