Deltron 3030, Kid Koala House of Blues March 28, 2014
"We're Deltron 3030 and we're back after a 13-year hiatus" quipped Dan the Automator at the start of Friday evening's performance. With the help of his fellow Deltrons -- rapper Del the Funky Homosapien and turntablist Kid Koala -- even after all that time away it seemed as if the quirky alt-hip-hop group didn't miss a beat upon their return to the stage.
While Deltron has had a few shows on this run already to warm up and rekindle the magic, they had little trouble bringing that same sound they were slinging around the turn of the century to House of Blues. Supported by a rhythm section, the trio brought undeniable chemistry to one of the best 90-minute live sets Houston has yet seen in 2014.
Kid Koala, who began the night with a solo performance, spent the majority of his 45-minute set flipping through vinyl with a precision and quickness. No wonder he had to wipe the sweat off his head after every tune. Starting out with a heavy helping of Beastie Boys, he spun his way through dancey chop-ups and spacey slow burners, plus some fun interplay halfway through on the remix he made for Yo! Gabba Gabba. Even though he said it was his "five-year-old's favorite tune," and obviously made for that age range, it fit perfectly with an audience full of twenty- and thirtysomethings and was possibly the most energetic part of his performance.
Since Koala played his kid's favorite song, he most certainly had to finish with his mom's. Mixing on top of the timeless classic "Moon River," Koala did more work in that four minutes than Girl Talk does during an entire tour.
Deltron 3030 isn't necessarily your typical hip-hop group, and Friday wasn't your typical hip-hop crowd -- mostly it was who you might expect to find at the next jam-band show. Dan the Automator has put his stamp on a host a classic albums from the likes of Dr. Octagon, Gorillaz, Galactic, Mike Patton and DJ Shadow; Del is an MC who could fill a similarly sized venue in his own right; and Kid Koala had already proved his worth earlier in the evening.
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The trio has been on the road supporting sophomore record Event 2, which hit shelves last fall just shy of 14 years after their eponymous debut. They've been working on this record for more than half a decade, and this year have made successful stops at several festivals including earlier this month at SXSW.
This show was something special, though. Deltron obviously had a great time together onstage, with a set touching equally on both albums. Del seemed to improvise his way through at least half the set, which wasn't a bad thing, although at points it made it hard to distinguish between which song was which until the choruses hit. Still, he brought his own spin to classics like "Positive Contact" and "Virus" and new tracks "Nobody Can" and "Melding of the Minds."
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Dan the Automator and Koala also had their fair turns to shine, each taking center stage to show off their skills. While Dan doesn't really add much musically besides sporadically smashing away at a beat pad, his charisma throughout the show added a lot. Koala reiterated everything previously said about his opening set throughout the headliners' as well. What he does to the decks is more impressive than pretty much anything ever.
I have a feeling that we're going to see more from Deltron 3030 in the oncoming years, and if this show is any proof, they'll start pulling in deservedly larger crowds. While all three members currently have other projects in the works, they definitely seem most focused on this one right now.
If Deltron continues to bring that same delicious space-funk to the stage night by night, they'll have no problem building on their recent successes. Hopefully that means not waiting another 13 years before they're back on the scene with another record.
Personal Bias: I was such a huge fan of the original Gorillaz record, as well as Dr. Octagonecologyst and Galactic's Ruckus, so seeing Dan The Automator live was cool enough. Add in Del, who's always great live, and my first time seeing Kid Koala, and it made for a great night. It was also pretty cool to hear "Clint Eastwood" with two out of the three original collaborators. Would have been cool if Damon Albarn were around.
The Crowd: Bunch of music nerds like myself. Lots of dudes. Mostly white dudes.
Overheard In the Crowd: "I feel like I'm in Mystery Science Theater 3000," which was by far the truest statement uttered all night.
Random Notebook Dump: There was a very long time in between the first time I heard Kid Koala and seeing him live, like nearly 15 years. Now I get to see him twice in two weeks, as he's also opening for Arcade Fire when they hit The Woodlands next Wednesday. Pretty damn cool. I just hope he changes his set up a little bit.
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