Scenes From Last Night’s Baauer and Danny Brown Show at Trees.
When 23-year-old DJ and producer Harry “Baauer” Rodrigues released his “Harlem Shake” track on his Soundcloud page last year, he had no way of knowing that the song would become a viral sensation.
He had reason to believe it would do well, though. As an artist signed to Diplo’s Mad Decent label, Baauer had some strong backing. And, to be sure, the song did well enough on its own, getting featured on DJ Rustie’s Essential Mix and being named a “Best New Track” by Pitchfork before the song took on new life February as part of that whole, odd “Harlem Shake” YouTube phenomenon with which we’re all now well familiar. And it was quite a new life for the song, indeed: The song garnered so much attention that it even topped the Billboard pop chart for several weeks, setting Baauer up as one of the anticipated acts slated to perform at this year’s South By Southwest festival.
But during that festival run, a funny thing happened. Baauer, dispatches from the festival reported, chose not to perform the infamous track at his SXSW shows. Then, during a subsequent set at Miami’s Ultra Music Festival, Baauer’s audience booed him for playing the song mid-set, only to cut it off shortly after its start.
So, last night, when Baauer came to Dallas as part of the Worst of Both World’s tour with Detroit rapper Danny Brown at Trees, the big question heading into the affair was obvious: “Would Baauer play ‘Harlem Shake’ or not?”
Honestly, last night’s crowd probably wouldn’t have cared much if he didn’t play the song. Aside from their lukewarm reaction to the slew of DJs who attempted to warm up the mostly under-21 crowd early in the night, this crowd pretty much ate up everything that was offered to them — something that was especially true of the opening performance offered up by Dallas rapper Jay Fresh. Impressively, Fresh held the audience’s attention for the entirety of his full set, which mashed hip-hop and electronic music together along with some audience participation.
Still, Brown had an even easier go of things with this crowd. With a simple rise of the curtain to reveal Brown standing center stage in what can only be described as the most humble of attire — a much-too-large black tee covering up frayed cut-off jeans and high-top converse shoes barely tied on — this crowd roared. And Brown, in turn, immediately jumped into “Jealousy,” the first of many new songs he’s added to his catalog this year, all of which are are leading to the highly-anticipated release of his new album, Old. From the jump, the youngsters in the crowd pretty much lost their shit. The crowd rapped nearly every word back to Brown as those near the stage were caught in near-mosh-pit conditions throughout the entirety of his set.
And in addition to a little banter between tracks — most of which played off the fact that Brown was in Dallas, which some call D-Town, and, oh, isn’t it funny that Brown is from the “other D-town,” meaning Detroit? — Brown mixed in plenty of tracks from 2011’s breakout release, XXX, including “Wit it,” “Radio Song,” “Lie4,” “Bruiser Brigade,” “Blunt After Blunt,” and, perhaps the standout of the night, “I Will.”
Later, Brown would close his set with a mix featuring Ab-Soul’s “Terrorist Threats” and A-Trak’s “Piss Test,” as well as his newest tracks, “Kush Coma” and “Express Yourself,” the latter of which alludes to Diplo’s latest movement and set things up well for Baauer’s set — but not before many of Brown’s fans left the venue.
Much as was the case with Brown, there wasn’t much ado to Baauer’s set start. He just jumped right into his set without a saying a word. Still, just as before, the crowd ate up every bit of his offering.
From the beginning, it was easy to see why Baauer was on DJ Rustie and Pitchfork’s radar before the YouTube hoopla. The DJ’s set was strong and had the crowd in a pure frenzy. But, by the time Baauer reached the meat of his set, it was past midnight and it seemed that even the youngsters in the crowd were losing their steam.
So, quickly, and with a moderate response from the crowd, he did it: He mixed in what could only be described as a snippet of the famed “Harlem Shake.”
And then he continued on with his set.
It was perhaps the most self-aware moment in a night filled with such moments. But, on this night, self-awareness worked.