Not every act can start off on a stadium tour. In order to achieve Madison Square Garden love the initial grind of hitting dimly-lit, small to medium-sized clubs, taking some fan photos and shaking some sweaty hands is a must. Such was the case this past Saturday night as the kids from Chiddy Bang brought their Swelly Tour to the basement of Detroit’s famed St. Andrews Hall. Arriving in a weathered passenger van with Jersey plates, these two
Pittsburgh Philly hit-makers filed out of their makeshift tour-bus alongside fellow tour-mates Donnis, XV and DJ Benzi: unpacking their own equipment and lugging it inside to set-up their fourth show in four days. The work is hard but the reward is relished.
Entering the house Eminem built with over two hundred fans willing to drop $20 for a smoldering hot rap show is no easy task for these relatively under-the radar acts. The ante was upped as they performed on a perfect summer night with no air in the building. But success comes to those who seek it and this makeshift team of bubbling, entrepreneurial emcees have enough musical heat between them to justify both the ticket and pit stains.
Once the sun set and fans began to filter back and fourth from their newly-enforced outdoor cig breaks, the show kicked off with crossover-alternative band 2AM Club, who sounded pretty good from the chaotic lobby I was in: waiting to get my photo pass cleared. Once their short set wrapped up and I was finally allowed to fill my empty hand with a Guinness, newly-inked Warner Bros signee and Kansas emcee XV hit the stage with his introductory cut, “Vizzy Vizzy Vizzy.” Despite the downtrodden name of his famed mixtape, The Kid With The Green Backpack had fans feeling like somebody, as they happily sung along as he went through crowd-favorites like, “Awesome,” “Gobstopper” and the title-track “Everybody’s Nobody.” Well aware of our local bias, X to the V even brought out local Burn Rubber owner and rapper Ro Spit to kick his hometown anthem, “Renaissance City.” Nice touch.
As Vizzy made his way offstage, the baby-faced crowd began to shout for the one rapper who can pull off being Fashionably Late, Donnis. Rocking right through tracks of crack like “Country Cool” and “Party Works,” among others, the one XXL Freshman who favors blunts that resemble the father figure from Family Matters concluded his high-energy set with the song he said “got us here.” As Benzi dropped the beat to his home-run-hit “Gone,” the young ATLien had heads hitting the ceilings as bouncing onlookers absorbed the flavor in preparation for party-provoking headliners Chiddy Bang.
Bringing to the table a Top 40 hit, live drumming and a slew of fake ID-wielding chicks, producer Xaphoon Jones and his emcee Chiddy came ready to rock all night long with their sample-based breed of forward-thinking pop poetry. Taking an already loyal following down a set-list consisting of hits from their self-released mixtapes Air Swell and Swelly Express, these two visual opposites complimented each other on stage like veterans.
Between Chiddy taking suggestions for an impromptu freestyle (and delivering on every one of them…including ‘Godzilla’), bringing out hometown hero Big Sean to rock three tracks for his biggest fans (“Supa Dupa Lemonade, “Bullshittin” and “Smoke & Drive”) and delivering spot-on performances their legion could sing along to, these Chiddy Bang dudes impressed the hell out of everyone in the building.
And then they all did it again the next night…at Lollapalooza. Not for better or for worse but because that’s what professionals do. Even if they do get stuck with a filling up a gas tank.
To check out the second half the quite Swelly Tour head over Chiddy Bang’s MySpace, check the schedule and fill in your calender.