Show Recap: Danny Brown and Baauer are the worst, draws out the debauchery
Baauer, a former hip-hop DJ converted into a Internet electro house sensation, and Danny Brown, who thrives off of the manic energy of electro house, converge for the Worst of Both Worlds Tour.
Words and Photos: Kevin Lee / April 19, 2013
The last time someone used “…Of Both Worlds” as a tour name, it was R. Kelly and Jay-Z touring together in “The Best of Both Words Tour”, two performers on top of their games in R&B and hip-hop respectively. Nobody blinked then when the tour was announced because years ago, the minds that control such matters decided hip-hop and R&B, two genres that basically shared the same demographic audience, were to be merged, and the lines between the two were largely blurred on urban radio for close to two decades. And it worked out well until this arranged marriage of genres fell apart several years ago due to irreconcilable differences resulting from excruciating boredom (despite Mary J. Blige’s best efforts). The separation was amicable, which was to say a bit better than how the Best of Both Worlds tour ended up (but that’s a digression), and hip-hop did all the stuff newly single folk do, like branching out and doing some self-improvement. It also, as its inclination, fornicated with every other music genre out there. (Even country, it turns out, big fat thanks to Brad Paisley and LL.) One pairing made more sense than the others, as there’s been a pull between hip-hop and the harder styles of EDM (for instance, electro house, dub step, and breakbeat, which is already hip-hop-derived), a bond was realized when the beatmakers and producers in their respective genres saw that they might not have the same audience, but they all wanted to do the same things to an audience. Compare and contrast, for instance, the moment when Future bellows about waking up in a new Bugatti and the moment Skrillex hits a dub step drop: both are ridiculous, both whips a dance floor to a fever. This new blurred line is where Danny Brown and Baauer reside. And so goes the theory behind this tour, that man of the moment Baauer, a former hip-hop DJ converted into an Internet electro house sensation (that Harlem Shake thing, yeah he’s that guy), and Danny Brown, a emcee who thrives off of that manic energy that electro house engenders, should run around the country and do shows together. To test this theory, we submit their showing in San Francisco last Wednesday at the Independent, where their Worst of Both Worlds Tour convened. It turns out the results of this experiment were a bit mixed however, one world got more out of the bargain than the other.
Danny Brown was the first to hit the stage, and he constant kinetic presence, which the crowd fully matched. The very instant he came on stage and began performing “Molly Ringwald” and “The Black Brad Pitt”, two of his newer tracks with a hard house edge on the beat, the crowd started moshing into an undulating swarm right in front of him, with several crowdsurfings occurring instantly. By the third or fourth song in the set, a stage crashing girl jumped up and started grinding on Danny, who was receptive to say the least. Danny kept his torrid pace going with a swagger of knowing he has the crowd in his hand like no where else.
To put it simply, this crowd was hot. To compare with a few other recent shows in the Bay Area, it was hotter than the crowd that came to see Trinidad James, 2 Chains, or A$AP Rocky, which Danny opened for when they came to Oakland. Perhaps it was the smaller venue, but likely it was the promise of the Harlem Shake guy and Danny Brown performing on one night brought out the crazies that wanted to freak out to Danny’s ridiculous and obscenely lurid lyrics like it was a Harlem Shake video.
And as such the crazies didn’t stop. While the guys out front were threatening to trample each other, more crashers came. While a second girl came to the stage for her turn with Danny, a third girl thought to twerk, with her hands on the ground and her legs on the DJ table, which caused the DJ to have a conflicted look on his face whether he was enjoying the moment or wondering if his equipment was going to get smashed. That prompted a dude to come on stage to do his own twerking, generating even more howls from the crowd. The DJ at this point was starting to panic and held the table for dear life. Dude wasn’t done yet, he starts grinding on the twerking chick for a minute before she fell over under the table, at which point he took the mount and kept going. Finally, as the two were escorted off, one more girl emerged from the crowd to do that twerking thing again, except she’s wearing a skirt with no underwear. When she righted herself, she flashed the crowd, and Danny, who clearly got an eyeful. After all the jaws in the crowd were gathered back from the floor, Danny was done and he left in a flash.
By the time Baauer came on, around 11:30, probably a good 10-20% of the crowd that came specifically for Danny Brown left, along with the same amount of the room’s energy. Baauer started his set with his track with Just Blaze, “Higher”, which featured a string of Jay-Z’s ad libs chopped up to the beat, as if to signal that hip-hop has not left the house. He’d follow that up with Benny Benassi’s “Satisfaction” with a look on his face that read, “Remember that”? For the next hour and half he played the part of a house DJ, mixing in a fair dose of house and dub step into the track and kept the floor moving, although not at the levels that witnessed Danny. Stage crashers kept coming on stage, one at a time, before getting pushed off the stage by security, but by then they were tepidly dancing and mere recreations of each other, with people largely ignoring them as they handled their own. Baauer, clearly annoyed at some of the lamer later crashes, stopped the music for a beat to ask the audience what they thought of the dude on stage, resulting in a bunch of cat calls.
As time went, Baauer showed he wasn’t just your typical house guy and he showed off what he learned about playing records from hip-hop, and that’s the play whatever get the crowd moving ethos. After a protracted dub step set, he switched gears and started hot mixing hip-hop tracks, tracks five years old or so that’s just old enough to be ripe for nostalgia, before moving onto some dancehall. Nothing got the crowd’s attention quite like how he teased a few bars of Luniz’s “I Got 5” before hitting that chord of nostalgia a little harder, sprinkling bars of classic Bay Area mob music and newer hyphy tracks.
Finally at the end, he played his world famous, or infamous, track, “Harlem Shake”, playing a good half of the song before betraying his annoyance over the whole Harlem Shake thing by skipping the stage halfway through it, while the crashers that rushed onto the stage en mass during the song’s opening bars danced in every conceivable motion except for the actual harlem shake. When the lights went up, everyone on stage scurried off with their heads sunk, a little tired, and a little disappointed as well. And while mostly everyone left mostly satisfied despite the abrupt end, there was probably a sense in the room at there could be such a thing as too much ridiculousness. And in the calculus done at the end of the night, maybe there’s no drop that quite compares to Danny Brown.