Danny Brown and Action Bronson at First Ave, 9/22/13

Danny Brown and Action Bronson at First Ave, 9/22/13
Photo by Erik Hess

Danny Brown and Action Bronson
with Trash Talk
First Avenue Mainroom, Minneapolis
Sunday, September 23, 2013

The 2 High 2 Die tour touched down at First Avenue last night, bringing with it powerhouse rappers Action Bronson and Danny Brown and hardcore outfit Trash Talk. The thick crowd stayed at a nice level of intensity across genre and style lines,  giving each performer their due at what turned into a very memorable evening.

Before anyone took stage, Sacramento punk band Trash Talk had a vocal portion of supporters. It was clear there were a number of people that came tonight for them alone. The band who signed to Odd Future Records didn't exactly have a direct sonic line to the rappers to follow, and it made for an interesting and pleasantly disjointed night. When singer Lee Spielman insisted people move around even if they weren't used to the new sound, the mosh pit that had been bubbling up in anticipation exploded into a ferocious display of pent up energy.
Danny Brown and Action Bronson at First Ave, 9/22/13
Danny Brown and Action Bronson at First Ave, 9/22/13
Photos by Erik Hess

This was a well-orchestrated pit. Mostly descending into utter chaos, there were moments where everyone seemed cued into the same movements, breaking into a traditional California circle pit during certain types of songs. Trash Talk moved fluidly between sludge, hardcore, classic West Coast punk, and metalcore, and the stage energy was huge. Spielman lept into the pit at one point, later brought it up against the side wall, and continued to conduct the direction of the insanity throughout the duration of the set. He thanked everyone for being open to new sounds and for partying together in the same space. An inspired left-field choice for an opener, Trash Talk raised the energy level of the rest of the night.

Action Bronson's DJ brought him onstage to his self-appointed theme song, "Runnin' With the Devil," after a set filled with strange transitions and some Prince. Some seemed surprised Bronson took stage now instead of headlining, but as far as the flow of the show went it made sense. Beginning his set with the "'80s medley" song "Contemporary Man," Action Bronson ripped his shirt open and tossed water all over himself almost immediately after taking the microphone. He's a hulking onstage presence that props up Queens flow technicality with compelling lyrical imagery, and his strength as an MC were in full force. While I've always respected his abilities, something about Bronson's particular sense of humor and overall package never really grabbed me until I saw him live.
Danny Brown and Action Bronson at First Ave, 9/22/13
Photo by Erik Hess

He handles the microphone impeccably and has a real classic air about him simply from the ethic with which he spits. Harry Fraud beats like "Bird On a Wire" or "Alligator" sounded especially crispy over the First Ave sound system, and Bronson's grimy hooks were pitch perfect within the moment. Closer "9-24-11" gave Bronson the opportunity to cut the beat and spit something comparatively introspective, which left on a strong note and proved his mettle as a rapper. 

When Skywlkr took stage as DJ, he shifted gears between Waka Flocka Flame and EDM remixes, a good warm-up for the kind of music Danny Brown's been making lately. Migos might have been playing down the street, but hearing him drop "Hannah Montana" sort of made up for missing it. When Brown finally emerged, fists pumping wildly, he pumped up the audience for a song before jumping into the party-starter "Witit." As crazy and tweaked as his style is, the legitimate MC skills that have existed just underneath Brown's evolving sound come to the front when on stage. He manages to be about as strung-out buck wild as any performer can be, and still juggle a tightly constructed set. He thanked Minnesota, saying he felt a Midwestern connection being from the also cold Michigan. He said Minneapolis was one of his "favorite cities to play... and I think you all know why."
Danny Brown and Action Bronson at First Ave, 9/22/13
Photo by Erik Hess

See Also: Danny Brown's Triple Rock show sparks unseemly oral sex controversy
*Kitty Pryde calls Danny Brown Triple Rock incident "an actual sexual assault"

The joke got the expected big response, a smart way to acknowledge "the incident," and leave it at that. The focus was just a wild show, done on a stage befitting the act a bit better. Material stuck mostly to newer material from all angles, from guest verses to some collaborative one-offs to new work from the upcoming Old. New joint "Dope Song" was a highlight that got me excited to hear where the new record is going. Top to bottom, it was an incredible show, with a focus on rowdy and tight performances designed to make the crowd hyped. A well-curated line-up is everything, and these three managed to fit together impeccably. 

Personal Bias: I like moshing, so a giant circle of sweaty, violent men right in the center of everything didn't bother as much as it might have some rap fans. Mostly everyone off to the side stood there in joyful awe though, so it probably served as a spectacle even for those not as into it. 

Overheard In The Crowd: 'It's a minute to 9:30, it's a minute to Trash Talk, it's a minute to the greatest moment of my life!" [followed by a series of screams]

The Crowd: Fans of different degrees of rowdy hip-hop, good showing for Trash Talk.


Action Bronson: 

Contemporary Man
Pouches Of Tuna
Steve Wynn
No Time
Tan Leather
The Symbol
Red Dot Music
Bird On A Wire
Strictly 4 My Jeeps

Danny Brown:

Molly Ringwald
Black Brad Pitt
Blueberry (Pills And Cocaine)
Radio Song
I Will
Dope Song
Terrorist Threats
Blunt After Blunt
Kush Coma

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