Andre 3000 Performs His Album ‘New Blue Sun’ At Luna Luna

Courtesy Ray Mora

New Blue Sun Live. Andre 300. No Bars, No Phones reads a dandelion-yellow shirt hanging from a merch stand just outside of Luna Luna in Downtown Los Angeles, where Andre 3000 has scheduled four performances over two nights of his melodic, introspective, and spiritual album New Blue Sun as the latest tour stop for his first solo album in nearly 17 years. 

Luna Luna promises “a fantastical fairground unlike any ever witnessed,” evident once you step inside the warehouse where each of its original works has been meticulously restored to near-original state—please don’t ask to ride the attractions. Before the performance, guests are free to roam the grounds and take in the works of artists Keith Haring, Salvador Dali, David Hockney, Sonia Delaunay, Andre Heller, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, whose painted Ferris wheel looms just behind the stage in view throughout the show.

Andre 3000 Performs His Album ‘New Blue Sun’ At Luna Luna
Andre 3000 performed two nights of his melodic, introspective, and spiritual album ‘New Blue Sun’

To fully appreciate the rarity of this experience, I should state how unlikely it is to witness the lunar-eclipse-esque crossing of the pair. Andre 3000, one of the most revered artists of the last three decades and hip-hop’s most elusive griot, returns to music nearly two decades after his last full-length solo project to deliver an entirely instrumental album. No raps, just flute. And Luna Luna, the ambitious brain-child of Andre Heller given new life after being relegated to nearly 40 years inside a Texas storage container. 

Collaboration is another commonality shared between the two Andres. One of the most incredible intrigues of Luna Luna is how some of the most notorious names within the art community banded together to create the world’s first and (still) only art amusement park. This meeting of artist minds is also the driving force of New Blue Sun. Carlos Niño (who Andre 3000 describes meeting at the infamous Erewhon), Nate Mercereau, Surya Botofasina and Deantoni Parks all share the stage for the four performances.

“This isn’t a show; it’s happening” Andre 3000 proclaims to the 400 plus in attendance. He urges the audience to chant, shout, grunt, laugh, and bring whatever emotion forward because this night is an exchange between his ensemble and the crowd. Speaking of those in attendance, the guest list was painted with LA celebrity and creative starpower rubbing shoulders over the two nights including Tyler, the Creator, Frank Ocean, Rosalía, Alexa Demie, Usher, Gayle King, Regina King, Tobe Nwigwe and Martica “Fat” Nwigwe, Storm Reid Cedric the Entertainer, Jerry Lorenzo, Michael Ealy, Flea + Melody Ehsani, Beck, and more.

Andre 3000 Performs His Album ‘New Blue Sun’ At Luna Luna
Andre 3000 performs live at Luna Luna

All these ingredients create the atmosphere for Andre and his cohort to perform his free-wheeling and imaginative album. “This will be the most honest thing you’re going to hear right now” Andre 3000 shares towards the start of his set. He’s absolutely correct. His New Blue Sun album is a revelation, not just in the career arc of Andre 3000, but to popular music today. His opening track, “I Swear, I Really Wanted to Make a ‘Rap’ Album But This Is Literally the Way the Wind Blew Me This Time,” broke the record for longest song to debut on the Billboard Hot 100, and the only instrumental album to land on the Billboard Top 200 chart. 

Throughout the evening’s happening, Andre 3000 and his ensemble perform songs from his album along with spontaneous in-the-moment movements. He confesses to the crowd he doesn’t know what’s going to happen. His band is performing this all on the fly and in real time. The vulnerability in this admission is at the core of this magical evening. It’s illuminating to witness Andre 3000 play his flutes as he wanders within the universe he imagines on the album.

“I wasn’t trying to be the flute n—a” he jokes midway through his set. This admission set off a wave of laughter as he shared his journey creating New Blue Sun. His retelling of this journey reveals the curiosity at the center of his creativity, his willingness to “just try,” after overhearing a woman playing the flute on a fateful day. “One flute turned into seventy-two” he says with his trademark charm. This anecdote is one of the many highlights of the night.

Another moment worth sharing is when Andre 3000 breaks from the flute into a monologue spoken in a foreign language. He speaks unbroken and for several minutes. I can hear introspection, joy, and deep contemplation in his voice, even if I can’t pinpoint the origin of his dialect. You can hear a few Sunday-church-sermon mmhhms and finger snaps during his speech. Affirming the message from Andre 3000. Once he switches back to English, he says, “From the bottom of my heart, I want you to know I completely made up everything I just said.” Everyone in attendance, along with Andre 3000, shares in the hilarity of the moment. Kukio is the language spoken—an amalgamation of every language he’s ever heard and is a window into the brilliant mind of Andre 3000.

Everything has meaning as long as there’s intention behind it, Andre 3000 reflects—a deep understanding that is at the heart of  New Blue Sun. Andre 3000 has painted with words throughout his career. His profound ability to stretch and bend the English language to mine his musings has cemented him in Hip Hop’s pantheon—your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.

On this night, like in New Blue Sun, he paints with his flute. What is felt is what’s most important this evening. Throughout the evening, he played motifs familiar to those who have experienced his album alongside new compositions he’s manifested solely for this occasion. Elation, joy, confusion, peace, and solitude all permeated the hour-and-a-half surrealist performance. I found myself sailing across each note. 

Luna Luna is open for public view through May 12th

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