Sunday, May 7th, marked a legendary day for Pretty Lights, PLF, New Orleans residents and the lucky people in town for Jazz Fest alike. Earlier that day, Live For Live Music announced that Derek Vincent Smith, the famed American electronic music producer known as Pretty Lights, would be throwing a second line parade to the seventh ward of New Orleans and ending with a pop-up show underneath the 1-10 Interstate in the heart of NOLA.
A surprise FREE Pretty Lights parade and show?! We thought we were dreaming, so we grabbed an original Po Boy from Parkway Bakery and Tavern and made our way down to Bullet’s Sports Bar on Tureaud Ave. around four p.m. in the heat of the New Orleans day to see what the buzz was all about.
The energy was thriving and excited PL fans, musicians and neighborhood residents gathered in anticipation of what would become one of the most unique “surprise” musical experiences of my life. Sounds were checked, musicians geared up, horn players assembled near mics attached to the sides and end of a huge trailer holding a massive speaker system, a cooler of ice cold beer, Derek and his closest circle of family…and we we’re off!
Joined by Lettuce’s Ryan Zoidis, Chris Karns, Borahm Lee, The Soul Rebels and the Trumpet Mafia, Derek Vincent Smith surely is bringing music’s power to unite to an all time high. Making the event completely free, hundreds of ecstatic music lovers graced the streets of the Seventh Ward, herding locals out of their houses to check out the beautiful commotion that the parade transformed the streets into. Families, hula hoopers, random passerby’s and colorfully clad Pretty Light’s fans grooved, smiled and danced their way to the fiery AF second line, horn section, PL beats and solo flows from Derek and almost everyone on board.
As we ended the mile or so parade directly under the 1-10 freeway bridge at Ursuline Ave. and N Claiborne Ave, we all noticed a massive mural by UK artist Boxhead was painted under the highway. The trailer pulled right in front of the geometrical rainbow creation, turning your plain ‘under the bridge highway’ into a makeshift pop-up stage with a full system ready for what is bound to be one of Pretty Light’s most special show moments of all time…and all for free.
When the “stage” was set, was when we all realized we were about to be treated to a full PL set with even more friends and musical guests joining in the madness. Derek brought homies up time and time again, bringing a golding melting pot of Pretty Lights magic to hundreds and hundreds of some of the happiest people I have ever seen. He dropped super classic “Hot Like Sauce” with New Orleans’ Trumpet Mafia on deck, “Exodus,” “I Can See it in Your Face,” “Finally Moving” and some brand new tracks we hope to see on the next album.
As the sun’s golden rays slowly set underneath the green Oaks and concrete jungle of the highway, you could tell just how much thought and effort the crew put into this event, because there was 3D projection mapping on Boxhead’s mural to add even more visually pleasing stimulus to an already perfect day and night.
The set was a solid two hours on top of an almost two hour long parade, leaving every attendee, crew member and musician soaking in feelings of love, gratitude and happiness. Derek provided me with such a sense of fullness, respect and love for the music, the industry and every single soul who creates, pushes forward and takes ACTION for the things they love. This is why we are here. This is why we do this. This is why we LOVE. Thank you, Derek, PLF and every person involved in creating this entirely amazing and entirely FREE day we will remember forever.