Danny Brown Phillips Backyard Weekender, Victoria BC, July 27
Published Jul 28, 2019Danny Brown's set started weird, ended weird, and I'm not entirely sure what happened in between.
Everything seemed normal enough for a moment, as his DJ played Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," bringing Brown to the stage to pose like a wrestling champion entering the ring, but a couple of intentional false starts off the bat derailed the momentum. This wouldn't have seemed all that unusual if he didn't end his set in such bizarre fashion.
Exactly 45 minutes into his headlining set, a slot normally filled with at least an hour of music, Brown said, "Thank you, Victoria. I'm up out this mutha fucka," and left the stage mid-track. His DJ kept playing for another minute or two before shuffling off himself, thus bringing the set to a confusing end with little applause. Brown has cackled madly minutes before when he mentioned his upcoming fifth studio album, U Know What I'm Sayin?, and Viceland show, apparently titled Danny's House, so maybe he pissed himself laughing.
In any case, what Victoria got in-between was, indeed, a mainstage set. Though his DJ didn't care for flow, Brown's beats were as heavy as a sack of elephants, mad-ass booty-shaking bass that give you a full body massage from a hundred feet, drawing as much on hip-hop as hardcore EDM. Given that his 2016 album, Atrocity Exhibition, was released by Warp, this clearly works as rap for ravers.
While acts like Die Antwoord have also bridged that rap-rave gap instrumentally, no one else has a voice quite like Danny Brown. Sauntering around the stage with all the urgency of the Big Lebowski in a Polo shirt, the closest comparison to his cartoon supervillain flow would be Sir Smoke-a-Lot from Dave Chappelle's breakthrough 1998 film Half Baked, if that character was hippy-flipping.
Of course, you couldn't hear what Brown was saying most of the time, but it's often something about dicks or drugs. What mattered was that, no matter how enveloping the lower frequencies were, his Joker-like flow cut through, unintelligibly yet distinctively. Sometimes, you just need some dumb shit to dance to.