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Reviews: Day Of Familia with Ying Yang Twins & Fucking Best Show Ever

Ying Yang Twins on Friday at First Avenue

Ying Yang Twins on Friday at First Avenue

Day of Familia featuring Ying Yang Twins
with Dem Atlas, Jimmy Two Times, DJ Fundo, and Last Word
First Avenue Mainroom
Friday, June 12, 2015

The Fucking Best Show Ever 
with P.O.S, Big Freedia, Ho99o9, Marijuana Deathsquads, Psymun, Saba, denetia and sene, DJ Ander Other and DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP
Familia Headquarters
Saturday, June 13, 2015

It was the sort of Minneapolis summer weekend that will linger in people's minds for years, emblematic of what makes the city bloom in the few precious months of defrost. Greenroom Magazine teamed up yet again with P.O.S for a second installment of the Best Fucking Show Ever, this time pulling Familia Skateshop into the mix in conjunction with the celebration of their 10th anniversary. The result was a pair of events that aimed for everything all at once and hit the mark.

The curatorial team behind the weekend's shows excel at cohesive haphazardry, mashing together acts from all over the spectrum and having everything somehow just work. Friday's Day of Familia concert at First Avenue featured Atlanta's twerk ambassadors the Ying Yang Twins alongside an opening set from Rhymesayers' buoyantly introspective Dem Atlas. An inspired pairing that might not have worked in another city, the blending of artistic focal points became less about specific topics and more about the energy. Be they songs about persisting depression or exchanging money for lapdances, both artists put stock into connecting with audiences through their stage presences; though the tones were wildly different, the shared context benefited how each group was received. 

After a warm-up DJ set of Gucci Mane, Ludacris, and the like from three-fourths of Get Cryphy, the crowd willingly shifted their mindsets from ass-shaking to hand-waving when Dem Atlas hit the stage. He opened by singing a mantra that somewhat sums up his music's main themes: "If I die today, it's gonna be the best day I ever had." Simultaneously concerned with the fun and the fatalistic, the Rhymesayers firebrand ran through a set of heady underground rap rife with existential questions posed with boundless energy and a focus on the performative. 

Dem Atlas

Dem Atlas

Dem Atlas delivered lyrics that live miles away from the strip club with a heavy lean on rock sensibilities, but the crowd was right there with him, clearly fans at the outset. The audience's attentiveness to the heady throwback underground hip-hop at a crunk concert highlighted the ever-blurring divide between rap styles, and the expanding willingness to broaden how they get loose. Following a video screening of some skate footage set to "Animal," Prof himself made an unannounced appearance and played a quick three song set, setting the stage for the transition into strict party rap.

From the outset to the very end, the Ying Yang Twins had a set agenda: Asses were to be in near-constant movement. D-Roc was decked in an American flag backpack and a T-shirt featuring Benjamin Franklin with a sunglasses as though he wasn't 36 years old; Kaine spent most of the show shirtlessly showing off his dadbod. They wore playful grins throughout the set, joyously working through their strip-club standards for a rapt audience. Bringing with them non-stop bangers, foundation-shaking bass, and a total sense of hedonistic abandon, they kept stage elements to a minimum and relied on their charismatic deliveries.

The sheer number of hits Ying Yang Twins have to their name is staggering - "Get Low", "Salt Shaker," "Wait (The Whisper Song)," "Ms. New Booty," "Badd," and my personal favorite, "Say I Yi Yi," and they were all played to explosive responses - and even lesser known songs are structured similarly such that the vibe is not killed. Lacking a DJ, D-Roc spent a decent amount of time with his back to the audience as he loaded up the next song on his laptop, which he dutifully put into his backpack at the end of the night. Kaine spent a large portion of his stage time faithfully downing a bottle of Patrón, which likely aided in his twerking and air-humping antics throughout the night. (Later, he handed the bottle, uncorked, to the audience, perhaps recognizing he would have died otherwise.) It was pure debauched fun from front to back, and left the club sweaty and with pieces of the ceiling in my hair, the sign of a good party.

The party continued the following day in front of Familia Headquarters in Northeast for the Saturday's return of the Fucking Best Show Ever. Last year's event lived up to it's hyperbolic name, and this year was no different. The lineup was well-crafted and offered something for everyone, but was especially kind to those with hybrid interests. The mood of the event shifted drastically from act to act, yet maintained a balance thanks to each of the artist's own relationship with intersectionality. A multiplicity of genres were represented, oftentimes simultaneously in singular groups, and the connectedness between them began to reveal itself as the day went on. 

Big Freedia's chanted refrains and extended loops somehow felt in conversation with Marijuana Deathsquads' blaring, cacophonous post-rock synth builds; denitia and sene's stripped-down experimental R&B production somehow connected with ho99o9's simplified but punishing electronic punk. What could have felt like a mishmash of ideas fell together as a singular display of artistic momentum projecting forward in all directions.

As skateboarders competed for cash in the best trick competition inside the skate park proper, the music took place in the outside parking lot. DJs Ander Other and TIIIIIIIIIIP brought the pieces together, spinning all manner of rap and otherwise between sets. denetia and sene's set had strong elements of electro, house, and R&B floating around with some of the stage posturing of rap, and their intertwined stage dynamics made their opening set a memorable one. They were followed with one of the highlights of the day, a set from Chicago's Saba. 

Undaunted by his awareness that the crowd mostly didn't know him, Saba proved why he's among the strongest rappers coming out of the abundant pool of talented Chicago youth with a powerful set of atmospheric hip-hop. Displaying talent with melody, rhythmic gymnastics, and powerful wordplay, Saba's performance enhanced the already engaging work and pushed past comparisons to some of his peers. After getting into full crooning mode with a song that pushed his harmonic tinge into full-fledged R&B territory ("Don't be embarrassed to like this shit," he said), he rapped his scene-stealing verse from Chance The Rapper's "Everybody's Something" to huge applause. But the striking "Westside Bound" best showed off Saba's elastic flows with his tricky rhythms and slight allusions to the drag of drill, which he highlighted through an amazing second verse delivered as an breathless acapella. 

"Everybody's afraid to turn up," said one intrepid fan at the outset of Marijuana Deathsquads' set, as he and his friends aimed to be the change. But the pit felt confused at times, what with the ever-fluctuating vibes the genre-defying noise outfit gave off. Huge bursts of energy would quickly shrink to extended drones. One minute, thundering live drums would heighten the menace of the encroaching static washes and vocal squeals. The next minute, everything was stripped away to a jungle beat that wouldn't feel out of place in a Rihanna song, then suddenly everything's post-industrial hardcore and the crowd is crump-moshing. The mood swung so violently it was impossible to prepare your body and you were forced to just move with the sound like pending death in the ocean. Marijuana Deathsquads' schizophrenic stylistic weaving was microcosmic of the festival's overall genre shifting, as they continually built up and broke down the feel of songs until the concept of genre was like a forgotten memory.

And then Ho99o9 came onstage. Some attendees seemed like they knew what was about to happen. Most people gaped in anticipatory disbelief to see a man in a bloodied wedding dress prepare electronic keypads. Then, pandemonium. For marketing purposes, Ho9909 is ostensibly noise-rap, but on Saturday they pure punk, plain and simple, carrying the torch for Bad Brains with their sideline interest being trap-rap as opposed to reggae. (The comparison can feel cheap sometimes but Eaddy was wearing a Bad Brains shirt and they did cover "P.M.A." so it felt like an intentional influence). 

Flights of rap influence cropped up here and there - the attention to low-end, the chanted lyrics, the lack of live instrumentation beyond drums and pre-programmed beats - but Ho9909's strength was in not defining this as a rap set. This is the evolution of hardcore, moving forward across preconceived barriers into territory that was beautifully terrifying and brutally invigorating. The mosh pit was next-level and was easily the most inclusive and diverse group of elbow-throwers I've ever had the pleasure of getting punched by. Ho99o9 had insane stage dynamics, between the frightening costumes and willingness to jump into the pit, to the ability to maneuver between punk screaming and rap screaming. It was bar none the best thing I'd seen in ages. 

Psymun's one-man glitchwave set was the perfect transition, a cool-down of sorts on either side of the intensity spectrum between Ho99o9 and Big Freedia. Tweaking knobs while strumming wall-of-sound guitar flourishes atop airy saxophone samples and warm synths, the minimalist performance sat at an ideal place in the day. Short and sweet, Psymun ended just after the neck nod of "Fuck Bush" with a pleasant synth line that blipped into a distorted noise tone for a mere half-second. Then Big Freedia turned everything upside down with bounce madness, playing relentlessly throbbing sexual manifestos back-to-back as the crowd readjusted their energy and shook their asses. 

The New Orleans Queen of Bounce powered through twerk anthems with her team of backing dancers owning the stage as much as she did. At one point, she prompted the audience to turn around mid-song to catch a glimpse of her stage dancer Tootie, who was twerking atop a Ryder truck. The elongated, looped middle sections of songs would lose almost all structure to give focus to asses shaking, which included a talented handful of audience members at one point. Interpolating songs by Rihanna and Michael Jackson, the DJ played with slow and fast tempo dynamics while Freedia sung, chanted, and pointed our attention to prominent and noteworthy butts. 

Ying Yang Twins

Ying Yang Twins

Finally, the great P.O.S came to reign in the night. A genre-hopper himself, his set was a barrage of festival-ready rave music, basement-leaning heartfelt rap, and pummeling punk rock all wrapped into a broad-minded package. Marijuana Deathsquads once again backed his rap set, turning tracks like "Purex" into anthemic blastbeat mania, pulling at the heartstrings while beating violently at your chest. "Get Down" and "Fuck Your Stuff" will never cease to explode a party, both garnering a similar crowd reaction to Ying Yang Twins doing "Get Low" the night previous. He also debuted some new songs, which further push his melding of arena-ready hugeness and hyper-personal lyrical intimacy into new territory, with beats simultaneously poppier, darker, and more menacingly variant and lyrical references to Black Lives Matter protests and his kidney issues. 

P.O.S' Best Fucking Show Ever was once again was a testament to his insight into the powerful potential of art. The overarching theme was that of intersectional creativity in dialogue with contributors across supposed divides, and as he closed the night with the illegal encore "Let It Rattle" (which went past the noise ordinance), no one man summed up the promise of creative potential better than he.