Made famous by James Dean’s classic Rebel Without A Cause, the iconic Griffith Park is one of LA’s most treasured landmarks. Tucked away is the legendary Greek Theatre—surrounded by majestically lit trees and graduated at the perfect angle, its one of the best venues in the city.
Throngs of teenage girls dressed in black and white pleather/mesh combos flooded the stands as Danny Brown and his world-class DJ SKYWLR took the stage. Though it was quite apparent that most of the crowd was not there to see Danny Brown, he wowed the audience nonetheless.
His witty, irreverent brand of hip-hop is part of a larger shakeup permeating the genre as of late. Artists like Chance The Rapper, Schoolboy Q, OFWGKTA have brought a new style to traditional hip-hop that is markedly more artistic and more lyrical. Part whimsical, part gritty—the green-haired Danny Brown brings a unique dynamism to the stage rarely seen at hip-hop shows. He spits his rhymes out lightning quick and takes no prisoners. Backed by the heavy-handed, party down style of SKYWLKR, the duo snatched the audience’s attention immediately and held it steady through their 45 minute set—which was a bit short for my hip-hop loving heart. The set was lacking the production that Danny Brown deserves, but their set was still raw and magnetic.
After 30 minutes of fog being pumped on stage, the LA heartthrobs took the stage to screams, shrieks and tears of elation. Sporting only a leather jacket and impossibly tight black jeans, the tattooed front man Jesse Rutherford was as dreamy as ever. Before the first three songs were over, I had already picked a bra or two of the ground of the photo pit and delivered them on stage so they could be delicately draped across the synthesizer along with the rest.
As they cruised through their set, the touched on crowd favorites like “Sweater Weather” and “Alleyways” as well as some lesser known gems like “Afraid” and “Leaving Tonight”. The set was well-rounded and enthusiastic from start to finish—the personality of Rutherford and his band mates shining through in every detail. From the stark yet blinding production and dystopian cartoons flashing on the screen to mandatory black-and-white only photography, this was a complete experience. These guys represent a new age of rock bands that aren’t afraid to incorporate electronic elements into their sound—they realize that it heightens the capability of their music rather than undermine the authenticity.
These guys are busy traipsing around Europe right now but they’ll be back stateside later in the fall. I can say that before this show I wasn’t an “enthusiast” of The Neighborhood—convinced they were a lightweight rock-pop group that would soon fizzle. This performance convinced me otherwise. These guys have the talent and vision to back their hype. They have staying power. We’re looking forward to much more from these beloved LA boys.