Thundercat & Murakami: A Captivating Endeavor at The Broad

The contemporary art of a giant became one with a showcase of trailblazing talent.

thundercat, the broad
Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

Text by Luis (@heaviestofart), Photographs by Ekaterina Gorbacheva (@ekaterinagorbacheva.art) at The Broad Museum in Los Angeles, July 21, 2022:


“Don’t go to a museum with a destination. Museums are wormholes to other worlds. They are ecstasy machines. Follow your eyes to wherever they lead you…and the world should begin to change for you.” – Jerry Saltz


The above words by art critic Jerry Saltz couldn't be more in line with the encapsulating wonder of the The Broad; an accessible and awe-inspiring site that brings together a maelstrom of works from across all walks of life. Offerings are far from linear and each diverse section of the otherwise eclectic museum offers much in the realm of distinguishing perspectives. As avid visitors of the museum, we'd be remiss not to recommend letting your curiosity roam, and even more so this summer. This year, The Broad has brought back their Summer Happenings series. bridging performance art, musical acts, and more with a duo of can't miss exhibitions: Takashi Murakami: Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow & This Is Not America's Flag, the former of which we had the privilege of experiencing for ourselves alongside an exquisite showing by way of the world renowned bass maestro, Thundercat.


In the Land of the Dead, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow (2014). one of Murakami's largest artworks yet, is at the core of the artist's first exhibition at the contemporary art museum, and rightfully so with its 82-feet in length. Musically speaking, Murakami's work has graced Ye's Graduation (2007), J Balvin's Colores (2020), and Kids See Ghosts' self-titled (2018), but it extends beyond to include collaborations with Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh's Off-White, Complex Networks, Comme Des Garçons, and RTFKT to name a few. In short, his work is boundless across all mediums, whether it be music, fashion, or museum galleries across the world. Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow as a showcase is definitive of one of Japan's greatest artists.

murakami
Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

The amount of detail present within this revered Murakami piece is simply too expansive to capture in a singular shot, warranting an in-person visit for full immersion. Its scale alone is staggering and walking around the exhibit floor was testament enough to the power it holds on its viewers. Beyond the featured attraction, The Broad brought together sculptures, paintings, wallpapers, and immersive installations from the Murakami portfolio that explore globalization, postwar Japan, pop culture, and religious iconography. Once you're done with your initial view of the Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow, head around and bask in signature Murakami pieces, including: Flower Matango (b) (2001–6), DOB in the Strange Forest (Blue DOB) (1999), and Tan Tan Bo a.k.a. Gerotan: Scorched by the Blaze in the Purgatory of Knowledge (2018), which we've photographed here for your viewing. For those keen on a more engaging experience, augmented reality (AR) is available to activate the museum space through your phone screens.


Guests, like the gentleman shown below, stared in awe at it all, basking in the glory of Murakami that was beautifully spread.

Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

In the same vein of cover artwork, Stepping on the Tail of a Rainbow and its accompanying selections are quite ambiguous and require multiple visits to fully grasp the depth present. As such, we stepped out and refreshed the senses at the museum's East West Bank Plaza for an evening of performances was about to commence. The stage was set and Cameron Lew's Ginger Root would be the one to electrify the many. It was one hell of a palate cleanser.


Ginger Root, a bedroom pop standout, laid down a set that was downright infectious from the get go, letting synth and vibrant bass lines take center stage on that pleasant evening. The musician tags his sound as "aggressive elevator music" and it couldn't be more fitting of a title. Gentle melodies and musicianship are injected with upbeat rhythmic tempos for a set that was met by nodding heads and tapping feet.

ginger root
Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

Not only were those in attendance enjoying the festivities, but Lew and his bandmates themselves were notably feeding off the energy and the performance we witnessed was evidently stronger as a result. It was a communal experience that came to a close with a roaring applause. 2020's Rikki was a standout entry in the group's fast rising trajectory and was what felt that night at The Broad was simply a byproduct of the heart that Ginger Root place on their craft.


Enjoy a photo gallery of the performance below.


From here we transition to Thundercat: a household, GRAMMY-winning name that clicks across musical genres. The multi-faceted musician shifted gears and stopped by The Broad amidst his stadium tour with the Red Hot Chili Peppers to deliver a maelstrom of funk, groove, and elite musicianship to aspire to. Using a varied selection of camera effects is the norm for a being with a sound as comprehensive as his, especially with technique and intentionality so profound it leaves one astounded.


Thundercat simply adapts and creates a relationship to the hosting crowd, whether that be at a stadium or at a temporary stage outside the architectural work of art that is The Broad. Smiling, dancing, and vibrant bass lines are heard, felt, and seen throughout the packed East West Bank plaza, all of which serve as a byproduct of the musical persona.

thundercat
Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

Having seen Thundercat grace multiple stages as a solo musician and as part of a larger ensemble with the likes of Kamasi Washington, it remains a sight to this powerhouse in his element. His compositions are a shape shifting marvel that unfold with new layers upon seeing them in the live setting, despite an already remarkable studio version. One thing's for certain. Whenever one has the opportunity to witness Thundercat, you do so and let groove live through you.

thundercat
Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

Enjoy a photo gallery of the performance below.


After an electrifying set of performances, we left fulfilled in every sense of the word and began reflecting on the multi-sensory event that just transpired. May we recommend the below Oval Buddha (Silver) as a sculpture worthy of appreciation.

murakami
Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

The Broad's integration of Thundercat and Ginger Root to this special evening exhibition speak volumes of their commitment to delivering unique experiences in a City spoiled for already having so much. If anything, it's with events like this one that the museum strays from the horde to deliver the one of a kind adventures that Jerry Saltz mentions in the introductory quote. A pairing of world-renowned musical performers with a collection by a contemporary legend is not a common occurrence, but one that was greatly welcome by an enthusiastic LA community. That's not all! Just days afterward, we witnessed 16-member classical collective Wild Up perform Julius Eastman's Femenine amidst the meticulously designed lobby. Members spread across the lobby and capitalized on the room's acoustics to create a crescendo effect that culminated with grandiosity.


There's no question that the museum's Summer Happenings are back in full effect. May you all be struck by The Broad and their treasure trove of art in the events to come.

murakami
Photograph by Ekaterina Gorbacheva

Enjoy a photo gallery of Murakami's exhibition below and head HERE to a view all of the events coming to The Broad, some of which include Arooj Aftab, a live theatrical reproduction of Houses of Zodiac, and much more.