Monday night’s MTV Video Music Awards brought dimmer-than-usual star wattage and at least one poorly received Aretha Franklin tribute to Radio City Music Hall. Could a full spread of downtown after-parties redeem the evening?
First up was a shindig that Republic Records was hosting at Catch, a clubby seafood restaurant in the meatpacking district with a murmuration of black, white and silver balloons. As tracks from Drake, Mark Morrison and more Drake played, Liam Payne, formerly of One Direction, huddled at a balcony table with Shawn Mendes, the Toronto-born singer.
Kim Viera, who wore a red Dolce & Gabbana onesie, danced to “Como,” a single that she released last month with Daddy Yankee. “V.M.A. after-party!” the D.J. crowed. “We so litty!”
If the crowd wasn’t from Los Angeles, many looked the part with black scoop-neck tees beneath blazers and immaculate side-parted undercuts. “We’re talking business,” said a woman in a black bustier and hoop earrings. “It’s always business,” replied a man in a distressed denim jacket and jeans combo. A guy with a scorpion inked on his cheek nodded.
Rose Villain, a singer from Italy, wore a sheer blue Off-White top. She hadn’t attended the V.M.A.s. “I should have won,” she joked. “I wasn’t even nominated. Next year they’re all mine.”
The next stop was Avenue, a club in Chelsea. It was a party for Post Malone, the face-tattooed folk rapper, who was slumped on an elevated couch in a V.I.P. area, surrounded by large security personnel and a tiered cake of women in body-con dresses.
“Put your tequila in the air one time for Post Malone,” the D.J. thundered, before playing “White Iverson,” Post Malone’s breakout hit. Partygoers dallied impotently around his couch, presumably hoping to tag Post Malone on their Instagram stories.
David E. Damour, a music manager from Queens, said the scene seemed livelier than a typical Monday because of the V.M.A.s. “It’s got a lot more energy,” he said. “I’m with one of the top bottle buyers.”
At 2 a.m., there was a migration toward 1 Oak around the corner, where Travis Scott was hosting a party. His “Astroworld” LP is currently the No. 1 album in the country, and it had enough magnetism to attract hip-hop luminaries like Cardi B, Migos and French Montana.
In 1 Oak’s smaller, circular basement, Lil Pump was celebrating his 18th birthday with his friend and fellow Floridian rapper Smokepurpp. An ice sculpture in the corner spelled “Gucci Gang,” the name of Lil Pump’s biggest song. The D.J. barked that everyone in the elbow-to-elbow scrum who wasn’t friends with either of the rappers should leave. No one budged.
As an evening that mostly celebrated dewy-skinned teen idols drew to a close, the grizzled old guard seized their moment. Treach, a rapper from the group Naughty by Nature, was introduced on stage by Ja Rule, and performed his hit song “O.P.P.”
“I lost a gang of baby mamas over this song,” Treach said. Fewer attendees appeared to know the lyrics to the decades-old ode to infidelity.
After booting a large man offstage, Treach bellowed a statement that would have been more appropriate at the 1995 Source Awards. “Anybody got a problem with anybody from the east, they got a problem with me,” he said, gripping a Heineken. That, at least, felt like New York.