By Jason Williams, Contributor, DC Music Live
Danny Brown strolled on to Howard Theater stage under the glare of red house lights, gave a head nod to DJ Skywalker, picked up a microphone off the DJ booth and went to work. In the same week in D.C. where Mackelmore did just as much storytelling as rapping and Kanye West employed enough set changes to give a Hollywood showrunner nightmares, Browns’ simplicity was refreshing.
Howard Theater is adorned with pictures of past musical legends like Duke Ellington but no one would confuse this evening’s event with a white glove affair. The atmosphere so jovial that you could set your watch by the occurrence of audience members jumping onstage to momentarily share the spotlight with Brown. Also there were two distinct types of plumes of smoke that filled the auditorium; the artificial ones came from the left corner of the stage all the others were of the natural variety.
In front of an audience that was overwhelmingly young, white, and male Brown kicked off a brief set that went by quickly but didn’t feel particularly rushed; if anything it felt in line with the $17 cover charge. It was not a packed house but for a Sunday evening it was solid showing of support. Brown worked primarily from his latest album Old that was released Oct. 8 – not a suspiring move. However, it was interesting to see the selections that Brown picked to perform. Apart of the appealing duality of Browns’ music is he swings from gripping introspection (Clean Up, Scrap or Die) to hell bent partyer (Blunt after Blunt, Kush Coma) without losing speed or control. Tonight, it was Danny Brown the rocker, which is not the old drug dealing Danny Brown, but it does lend to the question if it this is the best Danny Brown?
Brown had ripped though at least five songs before he took a break to formally greet the audience
and he did so with a kindergarten voiced, “Hi I’m Daniel.” As with everything Danny this evening, the crowd ate it up. It is debatable if Brown should have only performed material that celebrates chemically induced semi-consciousness. If the pattern holds some of the same folks here reviling in the turnt up life will one day wake up as responsible contributing members of society. Shouldn’t Brown give them more to look back on than just how much fun the ride was? What is not up for questioning is the connection between Brown and those gathered. Opening act Phil Ade ask the crowd if they had heard his latest material, when Dj Skywalker routinely dropped the beat the same crowd screamed Browns lyrics at him like they penned them. No other confirmation needed.
But as quickly as the audience got into the grove with Brown, he was wrapping up the show with Dip. Afterward, Brown thanked the audience for coming out soon after the curtain fell and the houselights were brought up. An announcement was made that Brown would not be returning to the stage and the more than nice Howard Theater staff started in this order to sever people their final drinks, clean up dance floor and usher everyone out to the all of sudden winter air. The only thing that was allowed to linger were the possibilities that were not taken.
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