Danny Brown and Kid Sister - the Echoplex - 1/24/12

Danny Brown and Main Attrakionz

Aaron FrankDanny Brown and Main Attrakionz

See also: Danny Brown is Hip-Hop's Cormac McCarthy

Danny Brown and Kid Sister

The Echoplex


Anticipation for rapper Danny Brown's first headlining performance in Los Angeles was already at fever pitch when I entered the Echoplex last night. As the first performer, Party Supplies, finished setting up his gear around 10, shouts of "Bruiser" and "Hybrid" could already be heard from the audience. (One member ran up on-stage and rifled through his pockets at one point, but more on that later.)

Over the past several years, Brown has gained a loyal set of followers from his last two albums, The Hybrid and XXX, while maintaining a heavy internet presence through free downloads. Ranging from Fairfax hood kids to hip-hop purists, both extremes of his fan base were well represented last night, as were local luminaries like Dam Funk and the Alchemist.

Main Attrakionz

Aaron FrankMain Attrakionz

Party Supplies started off the show with an electro-heavy set, featuring disco and auto-tune at various moments, which did not play well with the hip-hop crowd. Early on he told the sound technician he was switching to Serrato, prompting boos and a "fuck Serrato" from someone. Oakland's Main Attrakionz followed, getting the crowd pumped up for the rest of the night with tracks from their 808s and Dark Grapes series. With both members showing so much energy and enthusiasm on stage, it was hard to deny their appeal, but the rowdiness didn't necessarily translate into stimulating auditory experience.

Kid Sister

Aaron FrankKid Sister

The last opener was Brown's Fool's Gold labelmate Kid Sister, backed by British electro DJ Sinden. Her fanbase seemed well represented in the crowd and responded enthusiastically to a set of mostly new tracks. Stepping on stage in a pair of black Jackie O sunglasses, the Chicago-bred MC put an incredible amount of heart into each song and was clearly excited to debut new material for such a receptive audience.

Though her music lacks much in the way of substance, I could grasp Kid Sister's appeal while watching her fans. When a fan yelled out "Drop it!" during a break, she walked to the front of the stage and rubbed her ass in his face.

Danny Brown walked on stage not long after, rocking a leather jacket and combat boots, as if ready for war. He'd come to town to please his fans who hadn't caught him at the Roxy last fall, and likely left with many new ones. Kicking off the set with "Radio Song," Brown emoted cool confidence. One thing I immediately noticed was how much his distinct, nasally cadence manages to stand out over the beat. During "Lie4," you could hear every one of his lyrics clearly, something practically unheard of for a hip-hop concert, which often drown the vocals in bass. The crowd showed appreciation by yelling back the chorus: "Got that income tax swag."

With security busy kicking out weed smokers (as usual), several fans jumped on stage during "I Will," causing an tense interaction when one attempted to go in to Brown's pockets and somehow escaped with his life, after being dragged away. This soured the rapper's ode to cunnilingus and Brown, visibly shaken, took a minute to regain his composure. By the time the next song "Bruiser Brigade" had started, the incident had been all but forgotten and the crowd grew restless, with a mosh pit breaking out near the front. The highlight of the set "Blunt After Blunt" capped things off, with Brown headbanging and swinging his hair wildly. Then, out of nowhere, Schoolboy Q unexpectedly jumped on stage, offering him a toke.

Danny Brown

Aaron FrankDanny Brown

A two song encore followed, but Brown, who admitted taking MDMA earlier in the evening, was clearly feeling the effects, shuffling around the stage in a daze during the last song "Cloud Skatin" with Main Attrakionz, who were all still brimming with youthful energy.

Overall, it was an incredibly pleasing performance from an artist deemed "up-and-coming" for the past four years, who still seems to get little respect from his peers, despite unique talent and creativity. His delivery and vivid rhymes set him apart from most rappers. Still, with his extremely limited verbal interaction and a prompt exit, his onstage persona still leaves something to be desired. Not every rapper has to be Yelawolf: shirtless, drunk and crowdsurfing at every show. But there's something to be said for maintaining the same unhinged character both in your music and in a live setting.

Personal Bias: I interviewed Danny Brown recently.

The Crowd: There had to be at least five people over 30 there.

See also: Danny Brown is Hip-Hop's Cormac McCarthy

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The Echoplex

1154 Glendale Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90026