Last night, Denzel Curry brought his tour in support of his newest album, ZUU, to First Avenue. I didn’t know what to expect upon arrival, but what I did know was that it was hot, sticky, and sweaty and that a room full of eager fans at a sold-out show wasn’t going change that.
Knowing full-well that Curry makes some of the catchiest hip hop music in recent times, I was ready for things to get a little crazy. I had no idea what was truly in store for me.
Can’t Touch This Opener
I have never seen an opener light up the crowd in the way that Deniro Farrar was able to. I was generally engaged in his performance, which says a lot, since hip hop isn’t really my vibe in the first place.
People were absolutely off the wall for this guy in a way I had never seen before. The entire audience jumped, danced, yelled in unison, and it was obvious everyone was having a great time and really enjoying Deniro Farrar’s set.
My favorite part of his act was all the important shoutouts he gave. A shoutout for being fit, a shoutout for not being fit yet but really wanting to be, and a shoutout for being hydrated. (I cheered really hard for this one).
He even went so far as to nicely hand out a bottle of water for some fans in the front to share (since venue policy prohibited him from throwing them out into the crowd).
You’ve got to love a performer, with a platform, voicing the importance of health and hydration!
Deniro Farrar’s set included a lot of call and response in order to get the people in the room excited and singing along to his songs – this proved itself to be a great technique.
There was, however, a disturbing irony in Dinero Farrar getting a crowd of primarily 18-year-old white boys to chant “f*ck the system” while referencing a system that benefits them specifically. (Which is as political I’ll allow myself to get in this article, I promise).
But hey, if it gets the energy in the room up and gets people engaged, go for it.
The only moment during his set when the crowd was not going absolutely insane was when Deniro Farrar called for a moment of silence for the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was assassinated earlier this year. The moment of silence was in honor of his cruel and untimely death, and in celebration of what would have been his birthday.
The lights were turned out, and fans held up their phone flashlights as the room turned still. His ability to control the room really shined during this moment, as it is much harder to silence a room than it is to get one excited.
Overall, an incredible opening act which I hope to have to chance to see live again in the future!
Not a Prince Yet
Here’s the thing.
I really, genuinely want to give Minnesota local, Allan Kingdom, a good review. Supporting local music is important for a lot of different reasons and it’s something on which Music In Minnesota prides itself.
I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Maybe its because Deniro Farrar was such an energetic force that he was hard to follow. Or more likely, it’s because SoundCloud rap just doesn’t translate well live, and he was singing along to a track with prerecorded vocals.
Perhaps it is because I haven’t listened to his music and he’s better recorded than he is live. Or more likely, it’s because he called himself the Peanut Butter Prince, which I’m pretty sure is his self-given nickname. Giving yourself a nickname just doesn’t make you cool, you know?
Or maybe its because I just personally have a hard time with Soundcloud rap in general. Or more likely, it’s because his DJ was a very tall man dressed like a leprechaun in the middle of August and it made me uncomfortable.
Either way – the crowd got the most excited when Denzel Curry came out for a half of a second during this guy’s set, and that is the truth. Heck, they were even more excited about the Mason Ramsey advertisement before the show even started.
If there was any saving grace for this performance, it was Allan Kingdom knowing his audience and appealing to the local crowd. As a play-off of his Peanut Butter Prince nickname and a toast to Minnesota’s finest – he did a piece where he sampled several Prince songs in a remix.
However, this too fell flat as it was awkwardly cut off, leaving much to be desired.
The Ultimate Performance
Due to my experience mainly attending rock concerts, I was pleasantly surprised by the quick changes between acts. I suppose when you don’t have to move full instruments, the process moves along with ease. With it nearing ten o’clock and both openers already wrapped up, the crowd was stirring eagerly.
In reflecting on how the crowd reacted to Deniro Farrar, I couldn’t imagine the way they’d lose their minds once Denzel Curry hit the stage. I was entirely unprepared for what happened next.
The lights went out, the crowd bellowed, and Denzel Curry bolted on stage. Wasting no time, Curry jumped right into “ZUU,” the first song off of his newest album, which dropped in May of this year.
At the beginning of the show, I chose a spot up in the balcony so I could really observe what was going on throughout the night. Thank goodness I did, because doing so allowed me to witness some of the craziest shit I’ve ever seen in my life.
The second the bass dropped in “ZUU”, a crazily devoted fan to the right of me (who must have really been feeling the moment) ran towards the balcony railing and jumped, clearing the staircase and landing directly into the crowd below.
Please go back and read that last sentence slowly, so it really sinks in.
Now that you’ve done that, let me reiterate once more – someone hurled themselves off of the balcony and flew through the air from the second level of First Avenue all because Denzel Curry was dropping some dirty, dirty beats.
I don’t know if they were on drugs, if they made it out alive, or if they got kicked out of the venue. What I do know is that person is my hero.
If the actions of my newfound champion are not enough to convince you that this show was next level, I don’t know what is.
I didn’t have much time to worry about the mysterious flying fan because soon enough Denzel Curry was on to my favorite song, “RICKY.” The crowd went wild. I went wild. The entirety of the venue became fully engaged.
I’ve already made it clear that hip hop shows are not typically my scene, and I’m much more familiar with the traditions of rock concerts – circle pits, mosh pits, crowd-surfing – I’m there.
I expected the crowd to get a little wild. What I was not expecting, however, was for there to be a marriage between hip hop and mosh pits. What a time to be alive.
At this point, I was beyond enthused to be up in the balcony away from the chaos because I’m pretty sure everyone on the floor was going to be dead by the end of the night.
Whether it resulted from flying bodies from above, absolute dehydration, or being squished into disappearance by the flailing bodies around them, I expected many, many casualties.
Denzel Curry teased the crowd, pushing them to give more. He even started a few walls of death and circle pits of his own, as he urged those on the floor to push out towards the corners of the venue and run at each other when he gave the word.
Are you guys tired? We will see!Denzel Curry playfully teases the crowd
During “ULT,” the track cut out about two-thirds the way into the song. Curry handled the inconvenience with ease and finished the song a cappella. However, it was handled too effortlessly to not be set up.
I appreciate the act nonetheless, and can’t really give him too much of a hard time for doing it. It was a sneaky jab at anyone who says that there isn’t any talent in rap, and at the end of it all, a crowd-pleaser for sure.
Denzel Curry has incredible live energy and watching his non-stop movement leaves you feeling excited. This held through for the majority of the show. One complaint I do have, however, is that his closer was weak in comparison.
He ended the night with his hit song, “Ultimate,” but then must have had some time to kill, because shortly after he played a cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls On Parade” This was unexpected, especially since it made the most sense for “Ultimate” to be the closer.
Additionally, Curry called his friends out on stage to join him in a Waka Flocka Flame cover. Then the set abruptly ended and they called it a night. It was unsettling to close the show out with someone else’s song, and it also felt wrong that it was never announced what song would be the last of the night.
Sincerely, that is my only complaint about Denzel Curry’s set, which was probably due simply to poor set timing and miscommunication, if anything.
I’m excited to see what the future has in store for Denzel Curry and I absolutely plan to catch him the next time he comes to the Twin Cities. I know a highly energetic and engaging show awaits me then.
If I’m lucky, I might even find out the fate of the fan who jumped the balcony, too!
Denzel Curry Setlist:
Aloha (Charlie Heat cover)
SUMO | ZUMO
SWITCH IT UP | ZW1TCH 1T UP
BLACK BALLOONS | 13LACK 13ALOONZ
CLOUT COBAIN | CLOUT CO13A1N
(Unknown) (Unreleased Slowthai collab)
Look at Me! (XXXTENTATCION cover)
Bulls on Parade (Rage Against the Machine cover)
Hard in Da Paint (Waka Flocka Flame cover)