Published Nov 20, 2013An opening act consisting of a member of the headliner is often a bad sign, but when your group contains Kid Koala, you can't go wrong letting him warm up your crowd. Koala, armed with only his turntables and nothing else, opened up the evening digging back into the crates for "Drunk Trumpet," a classic from his first album. Looking out at the then-docile crowd he commented that he would start slow, as he was "still digesting" too. But it wasn't long before, to the sound of triumphant horns and one of the fattest hip-hop beats heard in years, Koala declared "All rise!" and the crowd turned into a sea of upright bobble-heads.
Koala returned to the stage with the foundation of Deltron 3030 along with Del the Funky Homosapien (a.k.a. Deltron Zero) and super-producer Dan the Automator, supported by a three-piece band, to the sounds of "3030" from the trio's self-titled debut. 13 years removed from its first appearance, the song sounded as powerful as ever, a theme that ran through the entire night. Classic album cuts like "Things You Can Do" and "Mastermind" sounded as dense and vital as ever, reminding everyone in the crowd why that album became such an indispensable part of the west coast hip-hop pantheon.
The night wasn't just about paying homage to futures past. The songs from the trio's new record Event II stood up to their older, better-known counterparts, and each one seemed to reinvigorate Del's rapping. While the alt-rap icon was as sharp and intelligent as ever throughout the evening (even rapping on-point through a dead mic part way through the set), when new songs like "City Rising From the Ashes" and "Nobody Can" started up, Del attacked them with more palpable enthusiasm, eager to show that his flow is as sharp as ever.
As the encore performance came to a close, Dan the Automator, with a perfect smirk, instructed the crowd to "Smoke 'em if you got 'em" as the group launched into the massive crossover alt-rap track, "Clint Eastwood" (a surprise until you take a minute to think about it.). With Del rapping his best-known verses, Automator animatedly conducting his band, Kid Koala spinning with precise abandon and the crowd taking on Damon Albarn's chorus duties, it was the perfect end-note to a night of powerful fun from an underrated hip-hop superpower.