With the fifth anniversary of Lou Reed’s death coming up on Oct. 27, you may cringe at the idea of a Velvet Underground “experience” joining the ranks of the Color Factory, the Dream Machine, the Egg House, and all the other gimmicky pop-ups that have been drawing lines of Instagrammers all over the city. Isn’t this the stuff of Ariana Grande? What, is there going to be a ball pit full of plastic bananas?
Then again, the Velvet Underground Experience is a distinctly Warholian concept. (You might even call Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable show, staged with the Velvets at 19-25 St. Marks Place, the original “immersive environment.”) And from the looks of its initial lineup, announced today, John Cale is on board. The VU co-founder will participate in a Q&A on Oct. 11 at 5 p.m. (seating is first come, first served).
Other events include a VU tribute set from The Feelies, the New Jersey band that formed a few years after the Velvets broke up and were declared the “Best Underground Band in New York” by the Village Voice in 1978. (They opened for Lou Reed and have played Velvet Underground songs with him on stage.) That Oct. 13 show will take place at White Eagle Hall in Jersey City and tickets are $25. If you missed the 50th anniversary tribute to The Velvet Underground & Nico at BAM last year, you may want to catch this one.
Finally, there’ll also be a walkthrough of the exhibit with Matali Crasset on Oct. 10. The French industrial designer was tapped by La Philharmonie de Paris to design the pop-up. The exhibit, which debuted in Paris in 2016 and will take up residence at 718 Broadway in Noho for three months, will consist of six chronologically organized sections with themes like Welcome to America, Factory Years, and Banana Album; six films; over 350 photos of the band, their contemporaries, and ’60s NYC; and, of course, the band’s music.
Hyperallergic’s review of the Paris show called it a “sensory onslaught” comprised of “massive quantities of archival material, all of it of great interest and spread out in an enveloping, saturating fashion.” According to the Times, it took a stab at evoking the Exploding Plastic Inevitable show.
Documentary footage of the Factory and New York City is projected on the canvas walls of a tentlike structure that is lined with mattresses so that visitors can lie down and watch the display above them, set to a soundtrack of Velvet Underground songs.
The Paris show kicked off with a John Cale concert, and you can expect more New York programming announcements to come. The exhibit’s website, where you can book a time slot for $25 to $50, promises “concerts, special events, lectures, pop-up installations, fashion collaborations, art exhibitions, screenings, performances, and masterclasses.”