Chong the Nomad (aka Alda Andara Agustiano) gave the Vera Stage crowd a DJ set with a lot of extras Sunday afternoon. From what I could tell, hers was a hybrid DJ/live performance, augmented by Agustiano’s formidable harmonica and ukulele-playing skills, plus her irrepressible dance moves and impressive jumping ability. Her shirt’s message—“I feel good”—was truth in messaging, and it was supremely contagious. Agustiano radiated an almost militant will to euphoria that recalled Janet Jackson’s stage and video presence.
Chong the Nomad’s originals from her 2018 EP Love Memo stood out as highlights, although we as a species will never tire of hearing Missy Elliott’s “Work It.” Agustiano has a deft way with heavy funk beats, marbles-scrambling bass frequencies, and torqued distortion. A couple of highlights included an odd, orchestral, mid-tempo techno jam to which Agustiano added slashing ukulele strums and an interlude during which she simultaneously played harmonica and beatboxed. Holy shit.
Any new artist who can get 90 percent of a festival crowd dancing in 82-degree weather deserves props. At the end, Agustiano took a crowd selfie and the Block Party attendees whooped as if she were Ms. Jackson.