Saturday, April 27, 2013

Live Review: Danny Brown, Blind Pig, Ann Arbor MI (4/24/13)

I'm in this picture somewhere
It's 9:15 and the crowd is getting agitated. 'The ticket said 8 o'clock," the woman next to me groused in between sips of Corona Light. I flipped my hood up and leaned against a pole, I had been listening to the grooves of DJ Chill Will, Blind Pig's in-house scratcher, for the past 45 minutes and aside from his dubstep-tinged remix of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" I hadn't heard anything that really got me excited for the show. A few minutes later, LL Cool J's twin brother waded through the crowd and started flashing hand signals at Chill Will. The crowd started to buzz as he threw on the bass-boosted "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" remix. I inched closer to the stage, shouts of "Hybrid" and "Style" were tossed across the cramped venue. I finally began to see life in the crowd, a smile crept across my face: it was going to be a good night.

At 9:35, a small girl with a white bandanna riding high on her forehead took the stage. The obviously intimidated starlet, Floridian rapper Kitty, had passed by me in line and I thought she was an attendee despite watching some of her music videos the night before to familiarize myself. The buzz around Kitty had generally been negative- "she's like Kreayshawn but worse" proclaimed the girl in front of me- and her nervousness was palpable. The 20-year-old was on her first tour and admitted to the crowd that she had no idea what to do or say. Her set went about as well as I thought it would: lots of self-aware giggling, minimal crowd interaction, not particularly enthralling music ( In the words of the man in front of me while talking to his buddy "Septictank"-"I'd rather listen to Riff Raff") but it wasn't an unequivocal disaster. Aided greatly by the Bruiser Brigade jumping around the stage and shouting her disses, Kitty was never boring, and she recovered admirably from her accidental fall off the stage. Toward the end of the set, she seemed to find her voice, closing with her best-known song "Okay Cupid," which got the crowd moving a little bit. Kitty isn't really my style, but I thought she handled herself well considering the environment.

Danny Brown took the stage at around 10:05, issued a declaration that he was there to get the place turned up, and launched into "Jealousy". A relatively calm song on record, skywlkr's live mix and Danny's energy turned it into a banger. Blind Pig has no security and the crowd pushes up to the edge of the stage, so his proximity to the crowd made it incredibly intimate. A couple of Bruisers took the opportunity to stage-dive, people clamored to high-five him during songs and hand him joints. Indeed, the whole place seemed to get turned up, with the Bruiser Brigade tipping back beers throughout the set and skywlkr passing out one-hitters pretty liberally. Danny, ever the consummate professional, took around six hits during his 50-minute set, but his focus was obviously on entertaining. I expected a lot of crowd interaction, but he played at a blitzkrieg pace, fitting in 19 sometimes fragmented songs, including his guest verse from Childish Gambino's "Toxic," my favorite of 2012.

The setlist was particularly expansive. To my relative chagrin, only eight songs were from 2011's classic album XXX, including bonus tracks from the Deluxe Edition "Witit" and "Baseline," and omitted my personal favorites "Die Like a Rockstar" and "Adderall Admiral." However, including those songs would have countered the point of the evening, which was to go out and have fun. The crowd rarely stopped moving during the set and knew nearly all the words, even to his often forgotten Juicy J collaboration "Piss Test." Danny could have lost the crowd by choosing to play two songs from upcoming album Old back-to-back but they were already hanging on Danny's every word and "Dope Song" nearly blew the roof off the place, so it didn't matter. Perhaps the most disappointing part of the evening was how hard it was to understand Danny Brown. The combination of his pace, voice, proximity of his mic to his mouth and questionable sound system made it nearly impossible to understand a word while the music was playing. The problem disappeared when skywlkr cut the sound for the second verse of "Lie4" and Dopehead's verse on "Bruiser Brigade" but was all too apparent when the crowd wasn't singing along. Thankfully, the only songs that weren't crowd-aided were the two new ones and single from earlier this year "Kush Coma."

The show ended somewhat abruptly. During "Express Yourself," Danny invited all the girls in the crowd to come on stage and dance with him. A few minutes later, there were no less than 30 people on the tiny stage including the Brusiers, a slew of girls all dancing with the Brigade or each other and a couple of guys from the crowd who followed their girlfriends on stage and pumped their fists while getting booed. In the midst of the chaos, Danny, Kitty (who had fist pumping on stage throughout the set) and skywlkr sneaked out the door and weren't seen again. I didn't realize until five minutes later, when the sound guys were unplugging the monitors, that when Danny yelled "I'm out" he meant it; there would be no encore nor substantial warning. I was sweaty, confused and conflicted. On one hand, I wanted to feel upset about the lack of encore I feel entitled to nowadays, but on the other, Danny gave such a good show I couldn't have really asked for more (except "Die Like a Rockstar, but let's not split hairs). I walked home that night in the 40-degree weather, drenched head-to-toe in other people's perspiration, with the specter of finals looming large, with a huge grin on my face. The show that started off with Chill Will trying to entertain for far too long had turned into one of the most fun evenings of the year.

Danny Brown Setlist


1 comment:

  1. That's not how it ended. Skywlkr stayed and played for a while. Like twenty minutes later Danny and Kitty were just sitting at a table in the back meeting their fans that had stuck around.