By Joshua Erickson
October 6, 2016
VANCOUVER — Detroit rapper Danny Brown is an enigma. After the huge success of his albums XXX (2011) and Old (2013), he opted to wait three full years before releasing his latest album Atrocity Exhibition. Instead of capitalizing on the hype and rushing something out, Brown opted to take his time to create an album he could be truly proud of. The album is his weirdest and least hyped-up album so far – and, in the opinion of this writer, his best album yet. Although Brown’s show at the Vogue was not sold out, it didn’t diminish the crowd energy one bit, as people looked ready to party the second they walked in the door.
Opening the show, along side Brown’s DJ SKYWLKR, was Bruiser Brigade member Zeloopers. While relatively unknown, Zeloopers didn’t waste a second to get the early crowd at the Vogue into it. Zeloopers style is weird, not completely unlike Brown, but he has a flow that is completely his own and wild frantic sort of energy that lends itself naturally to the stage. While the crowd clearly didn’t know Zeloopers’ music when he started, it mattered less and less as the show went on and the crowd turnt up so hard you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the last night on earth. Towards the end of his set, Zeloopers got into the crowd, which turned the energy up to 11. It was an impressive opening set and if Zeloopers can translate his energy and stage talent into promising recordings this won’t be the last time you hear his name.
Filling up around 10:15, Brown’s advertised start time, the makeup of the crowd really began to reveal itself. On the floor was all the kids (literally, kids – I would venture a guess to say at least half the floor was 18 or under) with drinks, joints, or pills in hand. On the balcony was all the adults who enjoyed Brown’s recorded material, but didn’t want to get swept up into the action on the floor with all the kids. Introducing his set with a bizarre, ugly, and stylistically appropriate remix of Joy Division track “Atrocity Exhibition,” which his new album is named after, Danny Brown took to the stage and opened with XXX cut “Die Like a Rockstar.” The crowd went off like a bomb and didn’t stop until Brown walked off stage.
Decked out in skinny black jeans, a black leather vest, and a Hanson T-shirt (yes, Hanson of “Mmm Bop” fame), Brown’s energy was infectious. Going through his set in chronological order – beginning with XXX, moving on to the Old in the middle, and ending with Atrocity Exhibition material, Brown proved himself to be a formidable rapper. Most impressive was his decision to use minimal backing tracks. Most rappers now focus on high-energy live shows and rely on backing tracks to fill in the gaps when they need to catch a breath. Not Brown though. Only employing backing tracks for choruses and hooks, Brown put his rapping chops on full display, which showcased his unique flow and clever wordplay.
After performing for exactly one hour, Danny Brown excitedly went to front of the stage after a firing on all cylinders performance of “Pneumonia,” and yelled, “That’s it! Good night!” and left the stage. The audience was left confused by his abrupt departure and wanted more. Alas, despite around five minutes of intense cheering, there was no sign of Brown coming back. It was a shame the set ended so quickly – though, to his credit, Brown fit 20 songs into his one-hour set. I would have also liked to hear more Atrocity Exhibition tracks. That being said, Brown still proved he really is one of the best, most creative, and exhilarating rappers there is in the world right now.BC, British Columbia, Danny Brown, Vogue Theatre, Zeloopers