Danny Brown and Baauer at Trees: Is Novelty Overtaking Good Music?
Danny Brown's high-pitched flow is so distinct I hear it waft across Elm street into the back patio of Black Swan Saloon, so I know to run across the street. Sprinting into Trees during the opening bars of Witit, the crowd is already jumping along, even the kids I judgmentally assume are there for Baauer.
He goes right into "Molly Ringwald" and everyone seems pleased. Brown is a compelling live figure, one of those artists I would say you could enjoy live, even if you were not familiar with his catalog. His wit and strangeness are appealing and onstage he seems both unpredictable and surprisingly gentle. Danny Brown is just plain old cool.
"I'm a weirdo," he tosses out as an aside. Normally, it's eye-roll inducing when people call themselves weird. Not with Brown, who seems to be presenting something overtly genuine to the crowd.
Trees is one of my favorite rooms in which to catch a hip-hop set. They have Brown's tracks low and his vocals high during the majority of the night, but by the time we get to "Monolpoly" the track is loud and I am enveloped by the sound and crowd sing-along.
Brown doesn't depend on a lot of bells and whistles, just a strong offering of content. Girls don't get onstage and twerk, the stage banter is mostly about D-town (his and ours), the business of putting on the show is just putting on the show. A bouncy, great, high-energy show. His DJ does offer some rather laid-back pantomimes to most of Brown's songs, which offers an amusing physical expression to Brown's punchlines throughout the night.
We do get to hear the just released "Express Yourself," the intro beats garner a notable reaction, even though it was just released on the 6th. This synthy futuristic trap offering remind me that Brown is unique bridge to electronic musicians and continues to find gold among interesting producers in the field. This one deftly executed by Trampy. And I am admittedly impressed with the myriad ways Brown can come up with to tell ladies he's willing to have sex with them in ways their man supposedly won't.
As Brown finishes up there is an almost complete crowd switch. That I am focusing so much on Brown's opening set is also an indicator who I was really there to see. And I can't decide what I think of these divisive tours. Brown makes sense in so many ways paired with a trap and bass producer but if the crowds can't be encouraged to stay to see the artist they are less familiar with there is less excitement in the two groups of fans running into each other.
Baauer puts on a strong set. His warped mixes keep the energy high and things get a little grimier than I remember from catching him at a SXSW party. There he didn't play the meme-generating "Harlem Shake" but last night just as I step out to catch some fresh air, I hear it.
Back inside the crowd is not going predictably wild. As he plays I realize I have never even heard the whole song, just the 30-second YouTube snippet, and that seems to be about what the crowd is willing to dance to.
Bauuer goes right into Savage's "Let Me See Your Hips Swing," and the heavy bass line kicks the crowd back into gear.
I take it as my cue to leave. Bauuer has everyone back on his side, and I want to leave on a high note.