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First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of LA County: Review

 Boulevards at First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Boulevards on stage with stuffed bison in the background. All photos by Kieran MacIntyre 2016 ©

What could be more fun than hanging out, listening to great music AND looking at dinosaur fossils in the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History on a Friday night? I’m waiting for an answer.

First Fridays, the monthly hosted by the museum, is where science, culture, and nightlife all coalesce into one of the most exciting things you can do in Los Angeles to kick off your weekend.

Whether you love archeology, biology, brilliant architecture, music or just having a drink while enjoying any the aforementioned things: this is the place for you.

Last night I got to go to this event for the first time and it was, for lack of a better word, awesome.

The sold-out attendance for the museum in Expo Park was loaded with a whole lot of young socialites who were excited for a night of inspiring exhibits and great music.

When I first walked in and saw the mounted skeletons of a triceratops and a T-Rex, I can admit pangs of youthful glee took over.

If you weren’t getting a drink from the bar, dancing to the music in the North American Mammal Hall or eating food from the four food trucks parked out front then chances are you were running around the palatial museum checking out all of the awesome animals, bones and other historical artifacts on display.

 First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
First Fridays allows access to the Natural History Museum’s displays after hours

 First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Before the live music of the evening, there were limited capacity tours of the museum’s hidden collections of things that you think you’d only see in movies and a panel discussion between Spiros Michalakis, a Research Scientist at the Institute for Quantum Information and Matter at Caltech, and Alex Wild, Curator of Entomology at the University of Texas at Austin, who discussed the practical body mechanics of human/insect hybrid superheroes like Ant Man or Spider Man.

For the music portion of the night, two performances took place in a room filled with taxidermied animals, which may sound creepy but it was seemingly novel to have so many random animals on display around you while you got your dance on.

And there was certainly a lot dancing going when on when Boulevards was playing.

Boulevards is the non de plume of North Carolina native Jamil Rashad, and if his music doesn’t make you want to party the night away, there’s something profoundly wrong with you.

 First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
Jamil Rashad, aka Boulevards, got the crowd pumped with his infectious electro-funk

Rashad’s sound reminds me of the halcyon days of 80s funk and electro. A nostalgic, yet forward thinking musical style that recalls the best elements of pre-Purple Rain Prince and Street Songs-era Rick James, adds nuanced, soulful depth and a more contemporary dance flare.

For his set, the electro-funk magic of Boulevards took over and people loved it. The room filled up and people went absolutely nuts for funk. To anyone who has ever said funk is dead, you would have been proven wrong just by being in that room.

Every thick, analog bassline atop an indelible groove made a room filled mostly with millennials gyrate as though it were 1983.

 First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

The material from his eponymous EP and his forthcoming debut album, Groove!, sounded great in a live setting (check out the insatiably catchy lead single “Cold Call” from the album).

Rashad’s vocal abilities are phenomenal. Every rhythmic cadence he uttered punctuated each track’s instrumental wonderfully and his versatile singing did the recordings justice and then some.

Boulevards is a name to remember in this new chapter of funk, and his music demands your attention.

 First Fridays at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County

Following his set was a wild and out live set from Chicago producer duo The Hood Internet.

Their set was loaded with awesome mashups of Hip-hop, pop and electronic, the kind of mashups you think wouldn’t work totally did.

From commingling The Weeknd’s “I Can’t Feel My Face” with Daft Punk’s “Around The World” to fusing Rae Sremmurd’s “No Type” with Caribou’s “Our Love,” everything they played got people singing along and dancing.

Armed with samplers, laptops and a mixer, the duo gave an electrifying set for a packed crowd.

All photos taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2016 ©
Chicago producer duo The Hood Internet during their live hip-hop/pop/electronic mashup

All photos taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2016 ©

All photos taken by Kieran MacIntyre - Monsters and Critics 2016 ©

Whether people came just for the museum, the panel or the music: it was damn near impossible not to have a good time at First Fridays.

This event is the sort of colliding of worlds that people need to experience — a fun evening that can also be, funnily enough, educational.


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