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Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14

Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen

Make Some Noise!: Sean Anonymous 7" Release and Birthday Party

with Dreamcrusher, Toki Wright and Big Cats, and Dem Atlas
First Avenue Mainroom, Minneapolis
Saturday, January 11, 2014

Rapper Sean Anonymous' seventh annual birthday show proved his biggest show to date. A strong draw of excited fans got quite a show from the all-local lineup: Toki Wright and Big Cats followed Dem Atlas, and Dreamcrusher played behind Sean Anonymous' headlining set. Celebrating the release of a brand new 7-inch vinyl, featuring new songs and guest appearances from Lizzo and Phillip Morris, it was a big night for Sean Anon and he paid it forward.


When the curtain drew, Bloomer stepped onstage to introduce Dem Atlas, but first began his trademark EDM-influenced beatboxing and effectively hyped the audience. Bursting forth to "Charlie Brown," Atlas immediately displayed his unique energy on a stage he had yet to touch and was comfortable with the venue's size.
Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14


Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen

Bringing the right playful intensity to a tight set filled with impressive material seemed to come easy. Lydia Liza of Bomba de Luz joined on vocals for their recent collaboration "Who Loves Snow?" and Bloomer returned to do beatbox backups. Closing on the triumphant "Wat About," Atlas led a large audience in singing the chorus and left them a hell of a performance.


Toki Wright approached the stage with producer Big Cats to perform their unreleased material with the help of Lydia Liza and keyboardist Eric Mayson. The new songs find Toki taking different directions sonically and lyrically, with moments both downtempo and turned up, often simultaneously. "For Amiri Baraka," the recently-released tribute to the late author and poet, played remarkably well thanks to Toki's stirring lyrics and a command of the audience. Further building excitement for the album Big Cats is calling "the best album of 2014," the performance clearly captured the audience's attention. 
Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14

Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen

Finally, Barb Abney announced the arrival of Sean Anonymous, with DJ Snuggles and Lizzo helping with backing vocals and DJ Name providing the beats. Sean put his athletic flow to work and owned the crowd with a dynamic presence. He played a well-chosen set that included great hooks and a classic Midwest chop sensibility, and was joined onstage with guests Phillip Morris (who made $4 after fans threw their money onstage) and Wide Eyes' Tony Phantom.


 

Highlights like "Seat's Taken" and "Name Droppin" stood as prime examples of why Sean Anon's star has risen to Mainroom status. The way his lyrics play off beats drew better attention to itself when the backing switched up to include live band Dreamcrusher about halfway through the set. Lizzo got to show off her skills as a flautist with a lauded solo over Sean's hit "Bet You Never" just after he returned from rapping in the audience. 
Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14

Sean Anonymous at First Avenue, 1/11/14
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen

Haphduzn made his way for a guest verse, and Sean continued to find ways to make the show feel as big as the space. When Lizzo headed up "Happy Birthday" and the whole audience sang it to Sean, he looked overcome with the moment but was ready to take that energy and throw it directly into "Bucket of Snakes." Shortly into the next song confetti exploded from the ceiling and the stage was mobbed with dancers.

The chaos that surrounded amped Sean's final few songs and set ended very strong. The encore was a return to the Minneapolis heyday when Sean, Lizzo, DJ Snuggles, Dem Atlas, Psalm One, Rapper Hooks, Sophia Eris, Tony Phantom, Toki Wright, and Phillip Morris returned for a giant freestyle session. The rare show-ending cypher session saw an impressive array of local rappers trading bars, something I remember seeing fairly often in the Oddjobs era but far less lately.

This was new wave Minneapolis rap with an ethic parallel to those that built the scene. Sean Anonymous built his name in a similar fashion and got to this level thanks to a deft ability with rap and a particular drive, and Saturday felt like both a celebration of his rise and the vibrant local scene as a whole. 


Personal Bias: I've followed Sean Anonymous for many years and I'm excited for him to have come this far. 

Overheard In the Crowd: A comment about deM atlaS' quite awesome Peanuts sweater.

The Crowd: A large showing of local music fans. 

Setlist:

Weight 
Seat's Taken
Sultan of Swat
Fast Raps
Name Droppin
Brick by Brick
Game Time 
Crush In/Bet You Never
Sunny
Alright
What Is Your Name
Black Magic
Now We Know
Bucket of Snakes
Cold Shoulder
Big Bang

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