The mood Wednesday night at Mercury Ballroom was set early on when Kid Koala, who is 1/3 of the headliner Deltron 3030, took the stage as the opening act performing a solo D.J. set. He began with, “I just want you all to know I don’t have a laptop or an iPad up here…I don’t even have headphones.” And then he proceeded to put on an amazing display of old school hip-hop scratching for the next 45 minutes. He was flipping discs, dropping needles, and fading so fast it made you nostalgic for the days when real scratchers weren’t a novelty (I’m looking at you Bassnectar). The remix of “Moon River” he did was so beautiful, I imagine there were at least a few tears in some beers.
Then came the boys…Del the Funky Homosapien and Dan the Automator joining Koala as the triumvirate that makes up Deltron 3030, a supergroup that has been on hiatus for the better part of two decades, and that’s when they turned the night up to 11. The show opened with five tracks from their debut opus, giving everyone a look back at why we were all there that night. Backed by a live drummer, a bassist, and a guitarist – Koala kept cutting on the turntables, and Dan handled the samples from the other side.
Rapping Del is as crisp and clear live as he is on record, and I’ve seen enough live hip-hop to know that that is a feat unto itself. Smart and heady, Del is one of the few guys in hip-hop that can just effortlessly spit out S.A.T. words and make rhythmic sense out of it. And the way he dances around beat and rhythm with is intergalactic/post-apocalyptic rhymes, once again proves that Del is a true artist on the mic; no hype-man needed here…Del’s got this.
After the brief look back they tore into a stretch of the new album, Event II, and then finished up going back and forth between the two albums. Needless to say the back-to-back punch of “Nobody Can” (with full crowd sing-a-long), into the classic “Mastermind” was one of countless highlights of the show. The close of the encore, was the only point they veered from the Deltron canon, and that’s when they cut into “Clint Eastwood”, the monster hit song that Del and Dan did with Damon Albarn as Gorillaz. From the opening cymbal crashes the energy was palpable, so kinetic I thought we might blow the roof off the place.
This is one of the few shows that I overhyped in my mind going in, and walked out with it having exceeded my expectations. Well done fellas, just please don’t take another 13 years between albums.