Tickets available locally at Diamond W Western Wear (E 2nd St), Blaze N J's (W9th St) and Fusion Pit (Anderson Outlets)
The first seconds of The Knocks’ New York Narcotic album dumps listeners square in the midst of Manhattan. A subway car bustles as the boom-bap of the Big Apple’s core rises from faint background noise to the thriving pulse of opener “2008.” There, production and vocal duo Ben “B-Roc” Ruttner and James “JPatt” Patterson personify the town, making her the most gorgeous and intriguing of women. “I know you want to meet her,” JPatt says. As the track concludes, their interaction with her becomes less of a romantic relationship and more of an inescapable draw to a drug that promises thrilling peaks and gut-punching lows.
“New York can be shitty sometimes,” says B-Roc, “but you’re still high on it. Our power’s been cut off in our apartment. We’ve been dropped from labels. New York keeps fucking you up and you keep coming back to it.” In about 10 years, The Knocks’ slow grind has transformed them from a scrappy East Village pair who
met at The New School and produced wall-rumbling tracks in their apartment to a formidable 1-2 punch who can create genre-blending dance projects with the likes of Harlem rap icon Cam’ron or pop-sensation Carly Rae Jepsen (as they did on their debut album 55 in 2016), rock festivals every summer, and get the party started for Justin Bieber during the European leg of his Purpose World Tour.
Though their success is apparent, The Knocks still wrestle with the idea that they have. Compared to Jay-Z,” JPatt begins, “we’re not shit. But we’ve done a good job of creating a cult fanbase. Our fans fuck with us because we’ve been as real as you can possibly be. We never sold out to get that instant glory.”
The album wraps with “Fung Wah Bus,” named after the now-defunct N.Y.C. to Boston line known for its cheap tickets and wonky schedule. The gentle closer stars Sleigh Bells songstress Alexis Krauss, who quietly exits the city. It’s tough to tell if she got her ass kicked by Gotham or if she’s just exhausted from hours of overindulging. “All good things end,” she sings while waving goodbye to her friends. It’s one of the purest moments of the set, where euphoria and sadness meet. Whatever she experienced during her trip was clearly too much for her to handle—enough for her to swear she’ll never return. Though Manhattan, as The Knocks know, is addictive. She’ll be back.