On May 9th 2013, I saw Danny Brown live for the first time. Brown absolutely tore up the intimate setting of the Middle East in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 11 months later to the day, I saw him do the exact same thing in a slightly bigger setting at the Paradise in Boston.
The show did certainly not start off on an excellent note. ZelooperZ- who is one of the members of Brown's posse Bruiser Brigade- opened the show and he was not particularly impressive. He rapped with basically no charisma or creativity over a plethora of below-average trap beats. I will say that he did have a solid amount of energy the entire time he was on stage; making his set not completely torturous to sit through. I commend ZelooperZ for his stage presence and his natural ability to work a crowd, but overall he was nothing special.
I thought ZeLooperz was going to be the low point of the show: I was dead wrong. The second opener was Bodega Bamz and he gets the dubious honor of being the absolute worst live rapper I've seen by a wide margin. Every second he was on stage was agonizing. For those unfamiliar with his music, think of him as the Latino answer to Chief Keef- a trap artist who takes himself far too seriously. If you don't have a sense of humor in trap rap, it just doesn't work. The reason guys like A$AP Ferg (who Bamz kept oddly playing samples after several of his songs), Juicy J and 2 Chainz are fun to listen to is because they deliver a majority of the songs they make in a loose, funny tone. When that sense of fun is gone from trap rap, the artist is an absolute drag to listen to. Not only were his songs far too serious, they were also obnoxious as hell. The hooks were repetitive and his flow is extremely grating to listen to for any length of time. Bodega Bamz didn't even have good beats to salvage his music. Every single beat he had could've been topped by any average person dicking around with loops in GarageBand for an hour or two. The only enjoyable moment of the entire set was when Bamz begged the crowd to throw him a Newport on the stage for a couple of minutes before playing his next song. That laughter was much appreciated after being bombarded with the worst trap I've ever heard nonstop for 15-20 minutes. Bodega Bamz was pure garbage and I'm really sad that Danny Brown couldn't muster up anyone better to support him on this tour.
After an over half-hour wait, Brown's DJ SKYWLKR came out for a brief set. In SKYWLKR's 10-15 minute set -which consisted of remixes of other rap songs like "Hard in the Paint" by Walka Flocka Flame and "Love Sosa" by Chief Keef- he managed to blow the doors off both opening acts. SKYWLKR is a highly underrated producer and Brown is very lucky to have him as his permanent DJ. Brown stormed onto the stage at the end of SKYWLKR's set and launched right into "Break It (Go)". A raucous party anthem like "Break It" perfectly sets the tone for Brown's live show. Each and every time Brown takes the stage, he's clearly having the time of his life and is able to create an infectious, party-like atmosphere with his performance. Brown may be having fun on stage, but he's also incredibly precise on the mic. Brown's raw, minimalist studio recordings pay diviends as he is able to easily match the tone and delivery of the recordings in a live setting. The setlist was basically the same older material he always plays ("Monopoly", "Blunt After Blunt", "I Will" ) paired with some choice cuts from both the serious ("25 Bucks, "Lonely") and party side ("Smokin' & Drinkin'", "Handstand") of his new record Old. The set may not be that advenerous, but it's perfectly fine because a majority of what he played is amongst his best material. Where this show differed from the previous time I saw him was Brown having members of Bruiser Brigade with him on stage. They didn't really add much to the show (Hell ZelooperZ didn't even have a mic except for the hook on "Kush Coma") save for providing backing vocals and accompanying Brown in finishing some of his punchlines. While it wasn't as amazing as his performance at The Middle East last year, Danny Brown stil put on a hell of a performance that puts most other hip-hop acts to shame.
-Brown performed "Lonely" by himself sitting on the edge of the stage, which made for an uncharacteristicly poigant moment for one of his performances.
-ZelooperZ stage dived at the end of "Dip" and lost his hat; which lead to an amusing scene involving a security guard coming onto the stage with a flashlight trying to find it.
-ZelooperZ came out to a Lil B song. This was easily the best moment of his set #thankyoubasedgod
-Bodega Bamz had a crew of about 7-8 people with him on stage. This was extremely confusing because only 1 of them had a mic. I've never seen a larger group of inactive people on a stage before in my entire life.
-Bamz dedicated some song about selling crack to the gay community, which added yet another layer confusion to his set.
-Some guy in the balcony kept yelling "Latino Heat!" during Bamz's set.
-One of Bamz's posse members ran around the stage with a Puerto Rician and some other Spanish country flag that I didn't recognize during his last song.
-Bamz's DJ randomly played "Man of the Year" by ScHoolboy Q after Bamz had exited the stage.
-The subway ride back from The Paradise was comical as some drunk dude got on the subway and randomly went up to some guy who was carrying a guitar and, told him that "he had nice fingers" then proceeded to ask him if he played the piano.
Bodega Bamz 2/10 (boosted from a 1 simply because of how hilarious the Newport incident was)
Danny Brown 8.5/10
Break It (Go)
Smokin' & Drinkin'
Blueberry (Pills & Cocaine)
Side B (Dope Song)
Bruiser Brigade (w/Dopehead)
Jealousy (The Purist Cover)
Blunt After Blunt