Main Attrakionz, DaVinci, Joni

Bootleg Gallery

September 30, 2011

Better than … the indie band in the other room.

Throw a pop-up show for say, Prince, and the place is packed within minutes of the doors opening. But for groups still teetering on the verge of simply Internet fame, it's riskier business, as indicated by Oakland duo Main Attrakionz's L.A. debut last night.

MondreMAN and Squadda B are on the list of “lo-fi” rappers/producers that seem to be staking claim on the hot (and hotly debated) property “Who got next?” They've worked with the Memphis-obsessed, sizzurp slurping Miami native Spaceghostpurrp, Southern-leaning Harlem darling, ASAP Rocky, and the scene's most distinctive voice (literally), Danny Brown. Not only have the proper blogs fawned over them–Pitchfork, The Fader, Southern Hospitality–but The New York Times even jumped on their cloud rap.

DaVinci's makeshift stage; Credit: Nathanael Turner

DaVinci's makeshift stage; Credit: Nathanael Turner

Corralling online fans to come see you onstage proves difficult despite their vehement promises, especially when showtime is 1 a.m. and the show moves venues at the last minute. But duress reveals mettle much more so than cushy conditions and prime-time slots.

Main Attrakionz's show, which featured South African producer and Stones Throw signee Jonti as well as fellow Bay Area rapper DaVinci, was supposed to be held at Freak City. Owner Rick Ross, who's been hosting shows for Peaches and parties for Kreayshawn, said things were getting a little hot over in Hollywood, so they transferred the show to the Bootleg Gallery.

The gallery is loft-like, with high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and concrete floors, none of which did anything for the sound, especially without enough bodies to soak it up. But none of the acts seemed much concerned. Jonti's beats, alternately headbobbingly hip-hop or lush, fuzzy, and cut with robotic blips and beeps, captured the attention of some fans of the indie band playing on the other side of the wall. DaVinci opened with his riff on Wu Tang's classic, “D.R.E.A.M.,” hopping up onto an arts and crafts table, rocking like the bright room was a grimy basement sweatbox.

MondreMAN of Main Attrakionz; Credit: Nathanael Turner

MondreMAN of Main Attrakionz; Credit: Nathanael Turner

With only 25 minutes left before the very efficient bouncer shut the space down, Main Attrakionz finally took the floor. There weren't two mics? Coooo, Squadda B seemed to say, lounging against the table, we'll share. Another materialized, and they began their affable (sure, he had a grill, but Squadda B seemed to have a perma-smile) show. Instantly likable, as much for their treating the show like it was sold out as for their breezy delivery, they skipped happily through songs from both their latest tape, 808s & Dark Grapes II and Blackberry Kush, hitting their stride with the ebullient “Cloud Skatin',” featuring Danny Brown.

The duo is still green, and it showed in places. Though their constant roaming kept the small audience engaged, the circling became repetitive, and they have such an unforced, weed-fueled rapport, I wondered if playing off each other would have added a needed, if unexpected, jolt.

But just then, the bouncer began to quickly sweep us out, even grabbing the mic from MondreMAN's hand. It's ok; they'll be back.

Critical bias: “Cloud rap” casts just enough shadow to soundtrack living in L.A.

The crowd: Skinny boys in jeggings and a couple of cute girls.

Overheard: After Jonti's last beat, “That was MASSive. That was Massive Attack!!”

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