Live performance is an incredibly intimate bond between artists and fans, but that intimacy got busted worse than Danny Brown's front tooth during Friday's show on Minneapolis's West Bank. At minimum, the Detroit rapper led several fans at the sold-out Triple Rock Social Club to believe, and many to proclaim on Twitter, that they saw a female concert-goer in the front row performing oral sex on him.
At max, the 18-and-up crowd witnessed something that put Brown's evening alongside Jim Morrison's "Miami Incident." Either way, this is one of the most unfun blogs about Brown ever. There are some pretty graphic, NSFW stories that follow, so proceed with caution.
City Pages has previewed and reviewed several of Brown's past Twin Cities appearances -- notably weather-torn Soundset 2012 and a slot opening for A$AP Rocky at First Ave. He was one of the paper's Artists of the Year in 2011, and we interviewed him last year.
The reasons for so much attention are numerous: He's fantastic to photograph, his music is creatively crass, and his live charisma is unmistakable. But the hazy particulars of what exactly happened Friday at Triple Rock, on which the venue itself has declined comment, still stands out as an event that has stirred a less-controllable sort of publicity for 32-year-old Brown.
Gimme Noise's reviewer Zach McCormick's mostly positive coverage of the actual show notes, "Brown's hedonistic persona set the tone for a night of timid heartland kids indulging in all sorts of ratchet [AKA obnoxious] behavior." Photographer Erik Hess got a ton of shots featuring Brown rocking totem pole-inspired Adidas high-tops and inciting the audience. And Jack Spencer, a regular Gimme Noise contributor who interviewed Brown, was also at Friday's show.
After seeing a Tumblr post by Heiruspecs bassist Sean McPherson mentioning "a sex act on stage," Gimme Noise asked all three contributors if this was true.
In each case, none of them were close enough to the front row at the time of the alleged incident to witness anything unseemly. Still, the reports have run rampant on Twitter since the show, and several tweets of a graphic nature have since been retweeted by Brown and have popped up on Reddit, Tumblr, and elsewhere. (McCormick notes that "some of the kids in the front row seemed pretty adamant when I asked them after the show.")
Just because Brown sags his pants low and dances close to the crowd doesn't mean he's asking to get groped, or more -- though this breathless Reddit description of what allegedly happened paints him as inviting the attention, and the kid was clearly disturbed by what he saw (and let's put a big [sic] through pretty much all of these grammatically questionable accounts to follow):
I was near the front row and all night Danny had been going up to the crowd and having random girls touch his dick through his pants. Then this girl in front of me starts flashing him and he goes up to her and grabs her tits. Then all of a sudden gets up close pulls his shirt up a little and she start blowing him. Then I'm behind her and I start getting pushed against her by the crowd shifting. It horrible and i hope you guys will be donating to my future therapy sessions but also i came back with a story. He rapped the entire time during too
This tweet is the definition of adamant:
DANNY BROWN LITERALLY GOT HIS DICK SUCKED ON STAGE AND SHE WAS DEEP THROATING-- claireヽ(￣д￣;)ノ=3 (@Clarbini) April 27, 2013
Later, rising rap star Kendrick Lamar wasn't going to just believe anyone about this sporadic mid-set spectacle, and tweet-asked "u really just got the head on stage stanny???" A since-deleted tweet from Brown responds "
However, when asked by a female admirer about the incident, Brown's response was "lol that's a rumor ..." Attempts to contact Brown's rep at Biz 3 Publicity have so far been met with silence.
@whootybish lol that's a rumor ...-- Danny Brown (@XDannyXBrownX) April 27, 2013
Next: Brown's tourmate Kitty responds
The affair feels like a lot more than rumor when reading Brown's tour mate Kitty's four (!) since-deleted Tumblr posts on the matter, and they progress from a joke that she "got the chickenheads cluckin", to an assertion that Danny Brown might actually be a victim here.
since i'm a girl, it's okay for me to flip out on any dude that tries to touch me. i'll perform in short ass shorts and shake my butt around but now that i've seen how it is, i can turn around and tell a dude to get the fuck away from me and if he didn't stop, i could punch him in the face and nobody would have any qualms with that. but what is danny supposed to do? scream at a girl onstage while he's performing? that's not part of his shit. but i know him pretty well so i know he doesn't wanna fuck up his image by running away from sexual advances from girls- but i also know him well enough to feel like he's probably pretty embarrassed about it. nobody wants to be publicly exposed and that girl is wrong for doing what she did
i'm not gonna keep harping about it because at this point it's just some funny shit that we're all laughing about now but still i just wanna make it clear that if you're ripping boys pants off onstage, i DONT fuck with you.
While onstage, an artist is locked into providing an experience for a roomful of people -- making eye contact, keeping their microphone in the right spot, listening to the levels, remembering their words, and so forth. Audience members who grope performers of either gender -- or their fellow concert-goers -- aren't helping.
Kitty goes on to say that she was victimized by the situation too.
i'm very rarely upset but right now i just feel really weird because i go out of my way to not see danny's dick and tonight i had to and it freaked me out really bad and now people are like accusing me of shaming sluts when in reality im just confused because why are girls allowed to rip off boys pants
i'm not shaming any sluts, i would never shame the girls that go home with danny to do whatever they want after meeting him for the first time
those girls are cool
i just parked one of their cars for them because she couldnt do it
but i don't want to see it, and if someone had told me danny's dick was about to be sucked i woulda left, but no it happened quick and i was there and for that i think this girl needs to figure some shit out
what if she walks up to my boyfriends stage and pulls his pants off
this is exactly the same as the boys pulling my pants off in vancouver
but for some reason the shit is okay
Next: What do we do with this carnal knowledge?
It's no shock, given Brown's vividly ribald lyrics about sex and an album titled XXX, that you're signing away a certain level of modesty by entering his arena. A certain level. In an interview with Paper, Brown recalls last year's Gathering of the Juggalos, where he says he saw a lot of "blow jobs in public," and noted that "There were cameras following me so I couldn't be who I wanted to be."
Still, Danny Brown -- or any artist or fan -- can't fully be who they want to be while they're performing in a public place if who they want to be involves indecent exposure, and what isn't clearly a consenting adult. It puts the venue at risk, and it gives the front row an eyeful of something that can wait until after the show. Any venue that wants to book Brown in the future will have to take this report under consideration.
In a situation like this, Brown can't ask the girl if she's of legal age or STD-free or "Are you too messed up to make an informed decision?" Not if you didn't miss one bar, bruh bruh. Similarly, there wasn't any way for her to ask Brown if these advances were welcomed. Nothing at all stopped camera phone photos and videos that can now live on the internet forever for future employers, family members, and potential sexual predators to see. None of it will be posted here.
The aftermath of the situation also includes fans pitting against each other to decide if what happened was acceptable. Danny Brown has left Minneapolis, but young fans' confusion lingers. This guy, who initially seems to be braver than most of his fellow Brown fans, gets shamed and called a "pussy" just for thinking twice about attending a show following this incident.
im scared to go to a @xdannyxbrownx concert that shits looks to wild for me haha-- Jake Cains (@Jacob_M_Cains) April 27, 2013
But there are also plenty of fans in this category who wanted to be the "lucky bitch" who supposedly had an intimate moment in front of 400 or so people.
So mad I wasn't that lucky bitch at the @xdannyxbrownx concert tonight-- morgaaan c: (@_DrBarbann) April 27, 2013
Long before any evidence of the alleged oral sex act emerged, plenty of fans took this version of events as fact. Danny Brown has done little to sway them otherwise. So we're left to believe there's no artistic distance between the exhaustively descriptive sex talk of songs like "I Will" and his performances.
A lot of the impressionable Brown fans took from this situation that his NC-17 persona in lyrics, on album covers, in concert, and in private life are all one and the same. And his retweets suggested acknowledgement of that reality.
What Brown wants and what an audience wants differ immensely. Several folks who were at the Triple Rock confirmed that a live sex act wasn't acceptable to see during a Friday night concert, and several more Danny Brown fans not in attendance agreed. Whatever an artist raps about doing in their private time with another consenting adult isn't always in the same category as what they can get away with in front of several hundred paying customers.