Saturday, August 24, 2013
Concert review: Third annual Gorilla vs. Bear festival in Dallas hits hip-hop home run
Detroit rapper Danny Brown lead a vivacious party and wooed the crowd with his sex appeal.
LOWER GREENVILLE The third annual Gorilla vs. Bear festival at Granada Theater Friday began much like its two predecessors. Dallas-based producer DJ Sober laid the beats on thick as patrons from the city’s hipster and hip-hop communities slowly filtered into the venue. The seemingly tame crowd would have fooled any first-time festivalgoer into believing this was just another underground show billed with obscure bands.
Those who attended in support of headliner and buzz worthy rapper Danny Brown, however, knew better.
Plano-based music blog Gorilla vs. Bear has gained national attention in recent years for exposing a number of up-and-coming musicians. As namesake curator of annual event, GvsB prides itself on catching artists on the cusp of success.
Comparing three years worth of GvsB festival reveals insightful trends about indie music. For one, fewer drum kits graced the stage Friday than previous festivals, as a roster of predominantly electronic bands rocked the house. And artists relied more on music than stage aesthetics to keep the crowd engaged. Needless to say, this minimalist approach was more effective.
Booty Fade, a local collaboration between DJ Sober and Picnictyme of The Cannabinoids, kicked off the evening with a healthy dose of booty-shaking beats. After weaving some of Kayne West’s new tracks through a slew of ‘90s throwback jams, the crowd was ready to party.
Shortly thereafter, dream pop project Empress Of made its Dallas debut. With a voice like a theremin, front woman Lorely Rodriguez wooed the crowd. Her range was decidedly impressive — climbing scales to new heights without breaking a sweat. Though Empress Of is Rodriguez’s solo project, she brought along a drummer and guitarist that added depth to her electronic momentum.
Stoking the fire next was New York City five-piece HAERTS, who immediately grabbed the audience’s attention. Nini Fabi, the band’s lead singer, sported a black, skin tight body suit that did all but help her blend into the background while she pierced the air with her resounding voice. She commanded the microphone to the effect of a New Age singer like Enya, but with Depeche Mode flair. An enticing instrumental break down that spawned a hard-hitting dance tune solidified HAERTS as one of the best acts of the evening.
Canadian duo Blue Hawaii took that energy, wrapped it in kick drum and slathered it with techno. Reverb and bass shook the venue for the entirety of the band’s set, as hues of blue and purple coolly bathed the vocalist and producer.
Then, at about 12:15 p.m., a hip-hop haze filled Granada Theater as Detroit eccentric Danny Brown took the stage, his gapped smile beaming. Though his charisma is enough to win over listeners, Brown’s music had GvsB fest patrons in a riot of jubilation as he seamlessly spit fire from one track to the next, the crowd hanging on his every lyric. Brown’s extensive discography of more than a dozen free releases and mix tapes was no match for the rap-hungry fans who completed his lines and catcalled on command. His uncanny sex appeal even inspired one woman to fling her hot pink bra on stage, which the rapper wore on his head for a song.
For the third year running, Gorilla vs. Bear showcased an astounding lineup and concurrently made a strong case for Danny Brown’s underground status as the black Brad Pitt.
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