Flying Lotus, Teebs, Nadastrom, and more converge for Trinumeral

The annual art and music fest goes out with a bang

As the Mayan calendar spirals toward the end, that old God-fearing adage “the end is near” has become something of a loaded term. But for the annual Trinumeral music and art festival, the end really is at hand, but that’s by design. January 1, 2001, was the first date of the 21st century when the day, month, and year all fell into numeric alignment — a day that concert promoter Grant Howl wanted to treat as a holiday, just because. Together with his then-Miami-based Trinumeral Productions cohort Par Neiburger, Howl hatched an expansive, multimedia blowout that tied music, visual arts, film and video, and dance into one pulsating scene. It was a modern take on Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable parties of the late ’60s, and has continued cropping up throughout the Southeast every year as the dates have aligned.

Trinumeral events have been held everywhere from Baguio City, Philippines (called “Triple Digit Day”), Asheville, N.C., Mills River, N.C., Charlotte, Miami, and Atlanta. Over the years the goal has remained the same: to bring together forward-thinking music with progressive movements in the arts for an event that can take place only once in a lifetime. Since there is no 13th month of the year, Trinumeral’s 12/12/12 return to Atlanta marks its last stand, and it’s going out with a bang. For one night, three stages inside the King Plow Arts Center, the Terminal West stage, and a stage set up in the connecting courtyard will host dozens of live musical performances. Several visual artists, including Sam Parker, Peter Ferrari, and Xander Stewart, will show off their works throughout the night as well, and although such returning Trinumeral vets as Break Science, Eliot Lipp, Mindelixir, and Panther God are on the bill, a lineup of nearly 30 other acts, including Teebs, Nadastrom, and a headlining set by Flying Lotus, brings the festivities to a head.

“We’ve tried to be as eclectic as possible over the years without shooting ourselves in the foot,” Howl says, pointing out that even though Trinumeral boasts a heavily electronic-leaning cast of performers, the lineup is merely a sign of the times. “We’ve changed and grown over the years and so have our musical tastes. Staying creative and forward-thinking is a greater concern than genre ever has been,” he adds, referring to a laundry list of performers that have graced Trinumerals in the past, including Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer, Big Boi, Blackalicious, and more.

With that, three CL writers name-drop their top picks for Trinumeral’s last stand.

Atlanta saxophone player and all-around musical master Kebbi Williams brings a large ensemble to the stage, featuring a 15-piece horn section (including five tubas). The group will also feature drummer Lil John Roberts, bass player Joel Powell, guitarist Ede Wright, and electronics courtesy of David Brooks and P Villa. That’s approximately 20 musicians on stage plowing through a set of all original music — a bold contrast to the rest of the fest’s mostly electronic lineup. (8:40 p.m. Terminal West) — Chad Radford

Atlanta’s Isness seems to be in a constant state of flux, and with the group’s latest lineup change, Spencer Ussery is rewiring things from the ground up. For this show, Ussery handles vocals, keys, and electronics, running through new solo downtempo, trip-hop, and pop-fusion productions, alongside drummer Radley Fricker (the Ruination, Heavy Chevy). For a glimpse at what he’s up to, check out “Act III” from Ty-Vishnu Morkestra’s Trinumeral mixtape on Bandcamp. (9:10 p.m. King Plow) — CR

Cloudeater first caught my attention about two years ago — the single “Hardly Wait” being my introduction. The group appeared amid Atlanta’s music scene with a fresh sound, mixing elements of rock and electronic music, culminating in a mesmerizing debut CD, Sun and Sidearm. The group’s genre-bending abilities became even more apparent with the following single, “Faces,” a collaboration featuring Maybach Music Group rapper Wale. Keep your eyes peeled for a new Cloudeater project coming down the line in 2013, mixed and produced by ATL expat Scott Herren, aka Prefuse 73. (9:40 p.m. Terminal West) — Joseph Tiller

Miami is home to a distinct underground electronic music scene, from which Panther God (Paul Gaeta) emerged — although he’s called Asheville, N.C.’s beat scene home for a while, where he founded the Asheville Beat Tape Collective. The former painting student began producing music full-time after leaving college, dabbling in dark synth-driven grooves and heavy bass-thumping tracks, lifting the divide between hip-hop and electronic music via such numbers as “I Try” (with Deflon) and “Fall Funk.” Having created his own label, Circuitree Records, in 2005, Panther God has long credited such early Miami bass music staples as Uncle Luke (2 Live Crew) and the Gucci Crew as being his primary influences. ... Also, it’s his birthday. (10:40 p.m. Terminal West) — JT

A lot of kids grow up thinking one day they’ll move somewhere, be someone. Blockhead’s 2012 album, Interludes After Midnight, digs into the heart of childhood nostalgia deep in Manhattan’s boroughs, the ultimate somewhere — yet still hollow, lost. Blockhead (aka Tony Simon) has released five LPs now, divorcing himself from his legacy as producer for Aesop Rock. His first offering, Broke Beats, was put out via the Mush label, founded by art-rappers cLOUDDEAD (Doseone, Odd Nosdam, and Why?). He moved to Ninja Tune after that, where he’s shown what production for production’s sake can accomplish: exploring trip-hop, soul, and other musical terrains that take you somewhere all on their own. (11:45 p.m. Terminal West) — Jenna Humphrey

Shark Wolf Rabbit Snake is Eliot Lipp’s eighth album so far, and his first for the Pretty Lights Music label. Lipp has been touring constantly for nearly a decade, calling San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York home. His music channels elements of funk, soul, disco, krautrock, and jazz with a restless hunger, all of which paid off this year when he landed on Pretty Lights, while also catching Jay-Z’s attention, who premiered Lipp’s “Wonderland” track on his Life and Times blog. (Midnight, King Plow) — JH

In 2011, Nature Neuroscience published a study showing that our brains release dopamine “during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music.” Brooklyn duo Break Science has seemingly tapped into this principle of building up and breaking down, together with the physical effect of sub-bass: operating at such a low frequency, it’s not so much heard as it is felt. Drummer Adam Deitch and keyboardist Borahm Lee have toured, collaborated, or otherwise worked with such artists as Wu-Tang, the Fugees, and Talib Kweli. They joined Pretty Lights in 2011, and their second EP, Monolith Code, was released in February, dwelling mainly in the pleasure valleys of dubstep and glitch, while also taking forays into early drum and bass — because even old-school headbangers need to feel good. (2:15 a.m. Terminal West) — JH

There’s a childlike quality to the 18 tracks that make up Flying Lotus’ latest album, Until the Quiet Comes, that’s far more pronounced than it has been throughout Steven Ellison’s prior offerings. While the music seems to be spiritually and intellectually at odds with the vibrant meditations of his great aunt, pianist and avant-garde composer Alice Coltrane, who’s often referenced in his reviews. But even though their respective styles take wholly unique paths, they’ve found equally serene footing in the universal consciousness. On stage, Ellison’s buoyant, cartoonish beats, tones, and drones take on an entirely new visual presence. His “Layer 3” stage show, so named because of the three plains of visual stimuli he runs with cohorts Strangeloop and Timeboy, takes shape amid a hallucinatory swirl of lights, morphing shapes, and mind-melting eye candy that blend seamlessly with the sounds he creates. (1:00 a.m. King Plow) — CR

The founding fathers of Moombahton, DJ/producer Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom, better known as Washington, D.C.’s Nadastrom, bring their fusion of Reggaeton, dance hall, and house music to the stage for a mammoth blowout. (1:00 a.m. Terminal West) — CR

Teebs (nè Mtendere Mandowa) is one of the more interesting producers/innovators to rise form the SoCal Brainfeeder crew. The watercolor painting that graces the cover of 2010’s Collections 01, a selection of remixes, bonus tracks, bits, and pieces spawned in the wake of his proper debut, Ardour, is the perfect visual accompaniment to the subtly blissful sounds he fleshes out. The music is heady, pleasant, and an infinite source of fodder for the imagination. (2:30 a.m. King Plow) — CR