Danny Brown + Kitty - Irving Plaza - 5/7/13
Photo: Devon Maloney Danny Brown at Irving Plaza, 7 May 2013
Better Than: Something scarier that could've happened, probably
If only last night's Danny Brown x Kitty (Pryde) show at Irving Plaza could be judged simply as a performance, instead of a cultural event.
Unfortunately, it can't. Not after "The Thing" that went down in Minneapolis two weeks ago. Really not after Kitty's poignant response to (and naming of) The Thing a few days later. And certain-fucking-ly not after a throng of over-stimulated, over-privileged white boys in the crowd last night kicked up and maintained a chant of "SUCK HIS DICK, SUCK HIS DICK" at the 20-year-old rapper/opener while she performed.
- He's Old, Missing Teeth, and Has a Funny Haircut: He's Danny Brown, Rap's Biggest Deal
- Sorry, Haters: Kitty Pryde Is Staying a While
- Danny Brown's Triple Rock show sparks unseemly oral sex controversy
Kitty's opening set, despite or perhaps partly due to her audience's willful antagonism, was disheartened at best. While, over the past year, she's grown miles more comfortable with her material, she seems less concerned with its delivery than ever, glazing over lyrics as if she were doing karaoke versions of her own songs. Admittedly, a room like last night's is most artists' worst nightmare, but under such circumstances, material ought to be one's deadliest weapon; it's what an artist knows and owns better than any schmuck staring up at her. Kitty seemed to forget that she owned the stage, though, even when backed up by noted goofball charmer Lakutis, laughing about how she had forgotten how mean New York audiences could be, attempting in vain to coyly shame the crowd into giving her the respect she deserves.
Where Kitty could have met the challenge of a mercilessly disrespectful -- and terrifyingly misogynistic -- crowd with equal vim (we've seen that energy, on songs like "R.R.E.A.M." and "UNfollowed") she seems to repeatedly shy away from the forceful stage presence a room like Irving requires in favor of maintaining that abashed, bedroom-giggle stage persona. That persona certainly holds water -- and is one reason fans love her to begin with -- but when you sign on for a month of testosterone-blistering rap shows instead of opting for the more attentive audiences of, say, a Charli XCX or a Mykki Blanco, you put yourself at a serious disadvantage that requires herculean effort to surmount. Her balking at the task kind of makes you wonder whether her heart is really in rapping, or if she truly is tired of it. She does, after all, have one hell of a knack for editorial.
Which brings us to Mister Old and Reckless himself. For all his bullshit, there is something truly lovable about Danny Brown, even if you're not usually into his brand of coke-snorting, blunt-rolling excess rap. Some of it has to do with his now-infamous redemption myth; another part of it has to do with the playful frankness of songs like "I Will," surely. Maybe, though, another small part of his charm is the fierceness with which women as smart as Kitty defend him.