By: Joe DeBonis
When there are six acts at a concert, there is bound to be a great deal of fatigue in the crowd before the headliner even hits the stage. At Danny Brown though, the energy remained fairly high, raucous and above all rowdy and I think that speaks volumes to the kind of liveliness Brown generates in people. Opener after opener hit the stage yet people did not reach the pinnacle of hype until Danny Brown raced onto the stage rapping “Break It (Go)” and the concert really started. I digress though, because the openers played a fairly important part in making the show what it was.
The first act was literally on stage for seven minutes, and basically jumped around rapped a song and left. I had high hopes for the length of the rest of the openers but sadly no one else was restricted to less than ten minutes. Next Dillon Cooper came on and at that point I figured I might as well join in on the jumping up and down to if nothing else warm up my legs for the later artists. Cooper was fairly uninteresting but jumping around with the crowd slowly started to get me anxious for Danny to come out.
Then Denzal Curry came on stage, who I personally think should have been at the very least the second to last act to go on and maybe even co-headlining. His type of rap he performs is the best kind of music to get rowdy to and the kind of rap that makes you just want to punch in a car window. So we all started to aggressively mosh and the crowd slowly riled up with us. Around this time I noticed a kind of commotion towards the front of the crowd a couple of my friends were involved in. By this time the music had started to get to me and I was feeling about as aggressive and foolish as I had all night so as I watched my friends shoving this guy I ran up behind him and started screaming in his ear, “We have a whole crew, you better watch yourself!” It was very out of character for me and the security guards noticed almost immediately how agitated we got and kicked the guy out pretty soon after we started making a commotion with no questions at all. The music seemed to be getting to everyone as the moshing got more physical and the energy took a sour turn. Not in a bad way, but instead of people being happy to see some of their favorite rappers it became a lot of people ready to do just about anything, and that was me included. I hadn’t seen that kind of emotional change in a crowd in a long time and I was really impressed with the way Curry just took over the dynamics of the entire show.
I perked up especially every time I heard a song by Curry that I recognized, which were few but enough to make me feel more like a true fan than a hooligan just trying to make a scene. He walked around on stage with these huge goggles on, stirring up a frenzy every time the beat would drop and he would start wilding jumping around on stage, clearly jealous he couldn’t be in the crowd with us. While with the first couple of rappers I was looking for short sets, when Curry left the stage after a mere 20 I was disappointed we couldn’t have spent more time together.
The next two acts really were nothing special and the way my friend Paco described it was perfect: The Underachievers are not really turn up rap, they’re the kind of rap you listen to on your iPod. So I tried to wait patiently through ZelooperZ and The Underachievers, trying to take something positive away but I was starting to get impatient. Its not like the openers had taken an exceptionally long time, and honestly I would rather have some sort of act on stage if I am going to have to be waiting either way, but the sheer number of acts was making me physically drained.
And then he appeared on stage with the most energy I had seen in a rapper since… Well probably since I had seen him last. Danny Brown has always impressed me with his live antics because he is so dedicated to his fans and making sure they have a good time. His charisma and charm shined through brighter and brighter as the night went on and he took few breaks from entertaining us, and the longest one at that was to tell us he was “fucked up.” The last fucked up rapper I had seen had done little to impress me (School Boy Q) so seeing Danny so gone but so good at entertaining at the same time really got me pumped. He never stopped jumping around stage and flashed us his classic face with his tongue dangling out of his mouth and showing off his famous missing front teeth.
Song wise, Danny did them all. Every one of his turn up songs, every one of his songs that people just want to go crazy to, he played. My personal favorites had to be either “Dip” or “Dope Song” but his classics of XXX hit hard to for me too, but on a more internal level. They reminded me of my earlier days, when I first saw Danny at Pitchfork almost two years ago. It weirded me out to see all of these “fans” and the only people that could sing along to “I Will” were my friends. It was fun to finally get a chance to turn up with the new Danny though and I knew going in the tracks off of Old that were written solely for nights like this were going to go off and they did. “25 Bucks” was his second to last song, and one of my favorites off of Old and it was during that song I realized Danny Brown has to be one of the best live rappers out there. Anyone that cares enough about his fans to only play what they want means a lot to me and I appreciate that I have been able to see Danny three times now.
The whole atmosphere of the show, physically at least, was on par with a moshy swamp. The smell of sweat permeated my nostrils for so long that night by the time we left Sunshine I forgot what fresh air smelled like. People were pushy, pissy and above all not experienced concertgoers but I did my best to bump off people as unobtrusively as possible and to just enjoy myself. It worked well and I have found if I go into a show expecting to be thrown about and have myself smashed up against sweaty dudes who then fling me as far from as they can, then I have a better time simply because I knew what I was getting into. Some people though obviously do not practice this sentiment what so ever and get madder and madder as shows go on.
On that note, that step up right at the front of Sunshine has to be one of the absolute worst things to have in a concert venue. Not only can the people directly behind the people standing on it can’t see, it becomes a power play for people to be standing on that thing and I have seen people go almost ballistic with rage when they either get knocked off or can not get on it. It creates a whole other dynamic that rowdy shows do not need added to the mix and it brings out the worst in people who already are probably mad that they are having other humans touch them. I experienced this first hand when I had two friends who didn’t know each other almost come to blows simply because one of them thought they deserved to be on the ledge and the other was there first. It was childish, obnoxious and it ruined “I Will” for me but it proved to me that people should never be allowed to have access to something others in the crowd will want and fight to get.
What impressed me the most with Danny Brown though, was his sincere concern with playing songs he knew the crowd would like. “Grown Up,” “Lonely,” and the rest of his more emotional yet quieter songs did not get played for the simple fact when someone pays for a concert ticket to go see Danny Brown, they want to go turn up, jump around and forget about their problems for a little as Danny Brown raps about molly, hoes and everything in between. I love the fact Danny Brown is down to do the songs he knows people love but at the same time have a more intellectual and expressive side that only his true fans will ever get to know.