Roberta’s is an esteemed locavore pizza and gastro-temple in the boho arts enclave/hipster compound of Bushwick, Brooklyn. Its popularity is hard to overstate; a recent wait at 9:30pm on a Thursday was 1 hour, 45 minutes for a party of 4, even though the space is large. After opening to much acclaim in 2008, they quickly parlayed their cultural cache into the nightlife and music realms, hosting parties like Roberta’s Tiki Disco in their backyard garden, and opening Rippers, a boardwalk burger joint and music venue in the Rockaways. Over the past few summers they’ve also thrown a day-long block party, which, like the Roberta’s empire, has grown each year. The most recent incarnation happened on July 28 and consumed a parking lot adjacent to the restaurant as well as the road outside, beneath one of the neighborhood’s hulking residential loft buildings, atop which onlookers perched in rows like pigeons on the roof. The party, which Roberta’s promoted via this comical YouTube video, offered 12 hours of live bands, craft beer, bougie food booths, plus other miscellaneous attractions that didn’t quite come to fruition in the rainy weather.
Hive went for the headlining acts, who included Andrew WK and Heems of Das Racist. Heems was scheduled to play solo, but instead he paraded out several of his labelmates, including his friend from Wesleyan and queer-rap breakout artist Le1f, who performed his hit “Wut,” as well as frequent collaborator Lakutis. Despot also came out for a song, and Heems’ co-conspirator in Das Racist, Victor Vazquez, joined for several songs, including some Das Racist numbers.
Of course, the real main attraction at any Roberta’s event is the food. They gave away their famous pizza to the devoted who arrived early. The other vendors hawked many creative choices: the Brooklyn Star was selling a fried chicken and mashed potato-filled cheddar-waffle cone, dressed in your choice of three gluttonous ways. There was a ramen booth featuring chilled tomato-clam Mazeman, and a snow-cone vendor with flavors like Mardi Gras King Cake and Arnold Palmer. NY’s famous Crif Dogs had their bacon-wrapped delights, and the Heritage Meat Shop and Radio Network (a butcher-run, culinary-focused station which broadcasts from Roberta’s backyard) had a booth offering nothing but Ham Sandwiches.
Andrew WK played a synth and sang over a backing track, and brought his wife Cherie Lily, who often performs alongside him, to sing along and dance to his party anthems. As you’d expect, thing got rowdy for Andrew’s set, with the crowd pushing in the barriers and falling all over the place. Between sound system issues, the rain, and the wild audience, it got sloppy on the street. After midnight, Andrew’s set and sound was cut off due to noise regulations, but he kept performing unamplified, briefly, until he was tackled and literally dragged off by a security guard. It takes a lot to rattle Andrew WK — not even a crowd of garbage-tossing Juggalos could throw him off — but he wasn’t pleased when he was dragged off stage. We hope he got a slice afterward.