Danny Brown and Action Bronson at First Ave, 9/22/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess
Danny Brown and Action Bronson
with Trash Talk
First Avenue Mainroom, Minneapolis
Sunday, September 23, 2013

The 2 High 2 Die tour touched down at First Avenue last night, bringing with it powerhouse rappers Action Bronson and Danny Brown and hardcore outfit Trash Talk. The thick crowd stayed at a nice level of intensity across genre and style lines,  giving each performer their due at what turned into a very memorable evening.

Before anyone took stage, Sacramento punk band Trash Talk had a vocal portion of supporters. It was clear there were a number of people that came tonight for them alone. The band who signed to Odd Future Records didn't exactly have a direct sonic line to the rappers to follow, and it made for an interesting and pleasantly disjointed night. When singer Lee Spielman insisted people move around even if they weren't used to the new sound, the mosh pit that had been bubbling up in anticipation exploded into a ferocious display of pent up energy.

Photos by Erik Hess
This was a well-orchestrated pit. Mostly descending into utter chaos, there were moments where everyone seemed cued into the same movements, breaking into a traditional California circle pit during certain types of songs. Trash Talk moved fluidly between sludge, hardcore, classic West Coast punk, and metalcore, and the stage energy was huge. Spielman lept into the pit at one point, later brought it up against the side wall, and continued to conduct the direction of the insanity throughout the duration of the set. He thanked everyone for being open to new sounds and for partying together in the same space. An inspired left-field choice for an opener, Trash Talk raised the energy level of the rest of the night.

Action Bronson's DJ brought him onstage to his self-appointed theme song, "Runnin' With the Devil," after a set filled with strange transitions and some Prince. Some seemed surprised Bronson took stage now instead of headlining, but as far as the flow of the show went it made sense. Beginning his set with the "'80s medley" song "Contemporary Man," Action Bronson ripped his shirt open and tossed water all over himself almost immediately after taking the microphone. He's a hulking onstage presence that props up Queens flow technicality with compelling lyrical imagery, and his strength as an MC were in full force. While I've always respected his abilities, something about Bronson's particular sense of humor and overall package never really grabbed me until I saw him live.
Photo by Erik Hess
He handles the microphone impeccably and has a real classic air about him simply from the ethic with which he spits. Harry Fraud beats like "Bird On a Wire" or "Alligator" sounded especially crispy over the First Ave sound system, and Bronson's grimy hooks were pitch perfect within the moment. Closer "9-24-11" gave Bronson the opportunity to cut the beat and spit something comparatively introspective, which left on a strong note and proved his mettle as a rapper. 

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