Bodies leveled up from the ground and floated back down with each distorted flash from the strobe lights, bouncing side to side in a slow motion trance.
Intermittently, fans regrouped. For a few breaths, the audience was back swimming in their own sweat at The Regency Ballroom in San Francisco. But once the beat dropped, they were ferociously thrown back into the fantastically twisted, black-and-white-hued Denzel Curry wonderland, where the dress code of horizontal stripes and clowns on unicycles is the norm.
The first stand-alone show of Curry’s “TA13OO” tour was a reflection of Curry himself — gritty, energetic and authentic. Not surprisingly, the crowd was made up of die-hard fans who unapologetically belted every word to every song and bonded with one another while head-thrashing in the mosh pit. Setting the tone for the performance was a large projection screen in the background that spewed a constant reel of trippy images.
Much of the setlist included hits off of Curry’s most recent album, TA13OO, a 13-song work separated into three acts — the three sections of the album are described by Pitchfork as the light, the gray and the dark side. The flow of the concert was structured similarly to the album, with Curry taking brief breaks after every four or five clusters of songs.
Curry took the stage and rocked his notorious “Super Saiyan” hair as he got the night started with a chronological delivery of the “light” segment of his album — “TABOO,” “BLACK BALLOONS,” “CASH MANIAC” and “SUMO.” It is hard to throw the South Florida rapper and “tame” into the same sentence — by no means was any part of this concert less than rowdy — but Curry got the ball rolling gradually, and as the night progressed, he worked the crowd up to a turbulent peak.
Curry proved that he should not be reduced to simply a fire-off lyricist, but can also hold his own when it comes to beautiful, rough-around-the-edges vocals. His delicate moments were highlighted in the “BLACK BALLOONS” chorus.
The artist also did not shy away from his older and wildly popular songs, setting the crowd off with favorites such as “This Life,” from his 2016 album Imperial and, of course, the sporadically, lyrically rapid “Ultimate.”
Once it came time for the “gray” and “dark” sides of the album to shine, the crowd was in maximum mosh overdrive. “CLOUT COBAIN,” arguably the most popular track off of the album, set the fans into a frenzy when the recognizable chorus shook the venue.
The Bay Area attendees also got to listen to an unreleased track featuring Flying Lotus that, according to Curry, was supposed to be on TA13OO. And fans got their second commemoration of the late rapper XXXTentacion of the night — the first coming from opening act Kid Trunks.
After Curry closed out his set, he was quickly met with the chants, “Encore! Encore! Encore!” Those who had begun to make their way out of the venue rapidly retraced their steps when a roar from the ballroom made it clear as day that Curry was back for one more track. Being the true artist he is, Curry was not going to leave his fans wanting more — especially not on the commencing night of his tour.
Fans went home sweaty; fans went home happy. And as the lyrics state, “They only know Denzel Curry.” On Saturday night, the audience got to know Denzel.
Contact Christie Aguilar at [email protected].