Deltron 3030 at First Avenue, 10/20/13
|Photo by Mark Kartarik|
with Kid Koala
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Sunday, October 20, 2013
After seven years of teasers, small leaks, and label delays, it's two-thousand-thirteen, and the new Deltron 3030 record finally dropped. Like a long awaited sequel to a beloved cult film, Event II provoked a whole spectrum of reactions, but the supergroup's tour to support it had the fanboys out in droves. Bay Area rapper-producer duo Del the Funky Homosapien and Dan the Automator, backed by Canadian turntablist Kid Koala rocked their thoroughly unique sci-fi project to a sold out mainroom last night.
See Also: Slideshow: Deltron 3030 at First Avenue
Kid Koala's wizard-level control of the faders made for a fascinating opening act for the show. With the kind of A-level scratching talent that seems to be rarer than ever, the DJ put together a masterful set of mixes that were a real treat to behold. Moving nimbly between three turntables, two mixers, and what appeared to be a circut-bending effects board, Koala put on a clinic for the kind of precise, surgeon's scalpel cuts that made him a star of the DJ battle circuit. After a the set's sole flub, a false start that probably would have gone unnoticed, the DJ humbly apologized and shared an anecdote about a painfully embarrassing piano recital from his youth, noting that it made all the screw-ups that came after it seem tame in comparison.
|Photos by Mark Kartarik|
As the mainroom's curtain raised for the main event, the artists were nowhere to be seen, with fog swirling around the empty stage, lit in dark blue and purple. Samples of a Tennis match bled through swirling sci-fi noise, coalescing around the phrase "the return" until the Dan, Del, and Kid Koala appeared with their three-man backing band to begin Deltron's classic intro track "3030." The sold-out crowd of die-hard nerds went ape, and the song's relatively (for Deltron, anyway) simple hook echoed off the walls.
It's a testament to the project's inventiveness that Deltron 3030 has had such widespread popularity. Normally, things falling this far on the nerdy end of the hip-hop spectrum tend to be niche affairs, but joints like "Positive Contact" rock a party surprisingly well for having complex lyrics about interstellar corporations and post-apocalyptic conspiracies. Sure, some of the density of Del's nimble, metaphor-laden wordplay gets lost in translation, but witnessing the MC spit bars upon bars stacked with $30 adjectives the entire evening was truly impressive. A lot of credit should go to Dan the Automator and Kid Koala as well, without their mothership-funk soundscapes to anchor all of this weirdness, Deltron would be lose a lot of its unique appeal.
The Automator himself spent the show triggering a whole array of samples from his control station that enhanced the music's alien qualities, while also playing hype-man for Del and conducting their live backing band. It was hard to tell if Dan just really enjoyed dancing like that, or if the power-trio -- featuring Juan Alderete of the Mars Volta and Racer X -- really just needed that much instruction, but the producer was up and waving his arms like Osmo Vanska during nearly every break in the show's beats. The musicians themselves weren't really helped by the mix, which occasionally sounded muddy when trying to layer all of the dense textures that make up songs like "Nobody Can." Still they provided a solid backing that allowed Del and Kid Koala to go all the way in with their lyrical and scratching abilities, and a rock atmosphere that made even the geekiest Deltron songs into bangers.