Hangout Fest 2014 doesn’t technically start until today, but we got started a little early last night with a pre-party that featured Jack Antonoff’s Bleachers, Girl Talk, and Wolfmother among the many great artists. But the award for most baller act of the night goes to hybrid-rapper/hip-hop iconoclast Danny Brown. The 33-year-old Detroit native rep’d the D in the deep South, spraying the crowd with rhymes rattled off like machine-gun fire, and streams of water from squirt guns!
The crowd waited in their festival finery, including the guy in front of us wearing an Native American headdress illuminated with blue light bulbs (we see you, dude). They were primed by Danny’s DJ, Skywlkr, armed with a Macbook and some serious 808s that made us feel like we were sitting in massage chairs. Feel the music, man!
An old-school 8-bit graphic introduced the Old Tour like a Super Nintendo game, and Brown strutted to the stage to electro fanfare, decked out in a oversized studded leather vest, matching leather pants, and spiky hair somewhere between Bart Simpson and Don King. Visually, he’s one part hipster and one part punk, but sonically he rests totally in his own sphere, rapidly emerging as one of the most unique new voices in the game.
He swapped his red solo cup for the mic, which he promptly use to fire off a quick greeting and the opening verse to “Break It (Go).” Like most songs of the night, it was taken from his latest album Old, and every line delivered with his trademark nasal-style. The crowd fed off his unrelenting energy, pogo-ing fiercely with their hands in the air, certainly breaking the Guinness World Record for the world’s longest fist pump.
He stormed the stage, flailing his arms like a kindergartner hopped up on Hi-C and having just beaten a new level on Super Mario brothers (#8BitJoke). His flow: strong. His pitch and voice control: awesome. His lyrical punchlines: hilarious, as always. The vibe quickly rose to a fever pitch, and we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of something resembling a mosh pit. Honestly, we feared for our lives…and it was awesome.
Between beats, Danny gave off an oddly Miley-like stage presence, sticking his tongue through his grin, and throwing up some serious devil horns. He charged on with “Smokin’ And Drinkin’,” which was met with a massive roar of approval from his own set of bangerz clearly interested in doing just that. More fast tracks followed, including “Blueberry (Pills and Cocaine),” “Side B (The Blunt Song),” the Molly-friendly “Dip,” and other titles that seemed tailor made for a festival revelers.
He understands the crowd because he’s definitely one of them. We caught up with him before the show and asked how he’d be hanging out at Hangout if he wasn’t famous. “I’d just make out with random girls and stuff like that,” he laughed. “Just having a little too much fun. But I still do stuff like that. Just not too many random girls, I’d narrow the number down a little bit!”
Brown can’t party in the pit, but he’s definitely down to party on the stage. He pauses to take a deep breath, clearly recognizing the strong scent of herbs. “Roll that sh-t up, light that sh-t up, and pass that sh-t to me!” he added gleefully, the perfect intro to “Blunt After Blunt.” The call-and-response lyrics clearly struck a chord. There was still a warm breeze in the air before he closed out his his set. So he helpfully cooled us down by spraying the front rows with Super Soakers!
[Photo: Getty Images]