2 High 2 Die for 1 Night of Madness

This is a fascinating thing, because I wasn’t even sure that I was even going to be attending this show to begin with. Danny Brown has a history of not getting through our ‘sometimes-unnecessarily-strict’ Canadian Border, and just a few days before the October 1st show, he was denied in Calgary. That right there was a sign that it was only going to be Action Bronson & Odd Future’s Trash Talk that would be performing (until I found out that Trash Talk also didn’t make it through the border). Things weren’t looking good at all, but then all of a sudden on the day of the show, Danny Brown tweeted that he got into Toronto – everything changed. Now, you have me at work trying to figure out just when to buy tickets and if I should just go down there and get them at the door; I was a mess, I can’t even lie. But then, by a stroke of luck, a friend of mine (Shout out to Samo) asked me if I wanted to go, and there was the end of that problem – I was going.

I’ve seen Action Bronson and Danny Brown together before, but just not in this country. I was in Minnesota for Soundset in 2012 when I saw them for the first and only times, but Action Bronson has made Toronto his second home, given the fact that he’s done about 2 or 3 shows up here; it’s weird that I haven’t been to one and I’m actually a fan of his music. Having since released SAAAB Stories this year, and Rare Chandeliers last year (although it still plays like it just came out), Action is set on delivering a final mixtape before his “album album”, as he put it on Twitter. Blue Chips 2 will be the sequel to the mixtape that jumpstarted his rap career, and I couldn’t have been more excited when I heard that this wasn’t a myth (because a lot of those happen in the age of the Internet).

Danny Brown was gearing up to release his follow-up to his debut Fool’s Gold album, XXX, which goes by the title of OLD. I also grew to be a fan of his over the past year, and like many other fans, I too was anticipating its release. They’re both pretty much still underground, but they are respected amongst the many higher ups in the Rap game; having collaborated with just about anyone (him and Bronson even appeared on ASAP Rocky’s 1 Train together). When I saw him perform in Minnesota, the atmosphere was different, it was a hot day, it was in the early afternoon so not many people were really into it, and I knew that he partied hard, Molly and all, so I had to regain my first impression of his stage presence in person, and not to be dependent on YouTube videos and controversial buzz around a fan giving him oral mid-performance (the irony that it happened in Minnesota as well). Toronto is known for their groupie-ism, so if something like what happened there were to happen here, I wouldn’t be surprised, but I was hoping that it wouldn’t happen – let’s just be civilized people here, folks.

Danforth Music Hall is a new venue for me to be attending shows, and it’s definitely going to be a frequent venue for more performances to happen. I don’t mind at all, given the fact that it’s close to my place being 1 bus away. With many local shows, come many local opening acts, and although I didn’t pay to get in, it’s still annoying having to stand through 15 opening acts for 4 hours (hey, that has actually happened). But, it was a Tuesday night; I don’t think that was going to be an issue. People need to understand that the importance of the DJ is to get the crowd energized before the acts come on stage. Toronto crowds are notorious for folding their arms, surfing their phones, and not really being into it until everything starts happening. Am I guilty for this? Of course I am, but at the same time, I give my undivided attention to the music and appreciate the DJ for what he/she is doing because it’s their jobs to entertain, and the DJ was doing it well playing a variety of popular Hip Hop tracks and some underground for the people who listened to more than just heavily played radio hits.

It was about an hour of DJ play before I started to hear Action Bronson singing over a variety of songs that his DJ was playing before he entered the stage. Action is definitely one who’s known for his sense of humour and even in his lyrics, he’s a joker that can still come at you bar for bar on the mic. When he finally walked out, the crowd went crazy and was welcomed as if he was royalty. After brief banter and addressing how much he loves Toronto (because we’re amazing), he got right into it by performing a couple of his feature verses this year: NaNa, which is on Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap mixtape (coincidentally, he’s also coming to Toronto in November), and Red Dot Music, which is on Mac Miller’s Watching Movies With The Sound Off album.

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Both of those verses were hot, and by getting those out of the way, he got right into his catalogue that stretched from Blue Chips, SAAAB Stories, and Rare Chandeliers: Pouches of Tuna (he actually picked up a woman and rapped his first verse with her over his shoulder – then tossed her off), Steve Wynn, Hookers at the Point, Ron Simmons, 9-24-11, The Symbol, Strictly 4 My Jeeps, The Rockers, and also debuted 2 new songs that will be on Blue Chips 2 (one of them uses The Champs’ song Tequila as a sample). Action Bronson may be a big guy (even stopped at one point out of shortness of breath), but he’s definitely a performer who embraces the importance of rocking & entertaining the crowd.

He had a great set, and when the intermission hit, it was the cool down session…until Danny Brown’s DJ, Skywlkr, came out and absolutely dropped the hammer on his set. He turned Danforth Music Hall around and upside down as the trap music invaded the space (he even threw in m.A.A.d city in there and I swear the ceiling could have dropped). The energy was at the right tempo, the DJ did his job, and with no warning, Danny Brown walked on stage and started performing. Now, with all of the voice changes that he does on songs, I wouldn’t have thought that he’d do it on stage, but he did and it was still as hype as if you were listening to the actual tracks themselves.

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He too came out performing feature verses like Black Brad Pitt (which I’ve never heard before), Terrorist Threats (from Ab-Soul’s Control System), and also individual songs that weren’t on mixtapes like: Molly Ringwald, Wit It, Express Yourself, and Blueberries. XXX was obviously the album that had all the hits to launch his stardom, and he definitely performed some tracks from there, including Radio Song, Blunt After Blunt, Outer Space, Monopoly, Detroit 187, Bruiser Brigade, I Will, Lie4, and Die Like A Rockstar. From his upcoming album, OLD, he performed 2 songs (and you can tell not a lot of people knew them yet): Kush Coma & Dope Song. His energy is crazy – it matches the effort he puts out on songs, and for it being his first time in Canada, ever, it was special that he got to perform in front of a massive crowd.

Action Bronson and Danny Brown were perfect to go on tour together because they are both crazy performers who have great energy to match with eccentric personalities – it’s part of the reason why I like them so much as artists. Their ascension in rap is cool to witness, and you only wonder just how far they’ll go in the game, and for how long. This concert was great to witness (not so much for my lungs, as there was a lot of cigarette & weed smoke getting into my system through second-hand), and it just continues to trend of great shows to go down in the urban scene of Toronto in this magnificent 2013. Until the next show,

That’s My Word & It STiXX

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