When this show first popped up on the calendar, it raised a lot of eyebrows. Club Dada? For Odd Future offshoot, MellowHigh? Seeing as though the full collective packed out Palladium Ballroom last time they came to town, it didn't seem feasible that a club as small as Dada would be enough space for Hodgy Beats, Domo Genesis, and Left Brain. In hindsight, it was and it wasn't. Walking up Elm Street, the line of teenaged fans waiting to get in spanned at least three doors down, past Twilite Lounge. It seemed impossible to get all of those people inside, and had they not been so young, it might have been. Throughout the night, patrons mobbed around the stage like moths to a flame. The bar area and patio stayed relatively uninhabited, making the club feel both packed and half-empty at the same time. The numbers don't lie however, MellowHigh sold out Dada by 7 p.m. yesterday, an hour before the doors opened.
The night started off with a particularly great DJ set from Dallas hip-hop scene veteran, Tape Mastah Steph. You don't often catch Steph on opening slots like this one, but it was refreshing. Rap shows don't always need a top 40 DJ to warm up a room, and revisiting old favorites like Nas' "Get Down" was a nice juxtaposition to the evening of new generation emcees.
When Blue, The Misfit got up on stage, the crowd went wild, ready for action. Performing songs from his first solo EP, Numb, and his forthcoming project, Child in The Wild, Blue was full throttle from start to finish. He stood before a projection screen with images of video games, geometric patterns, and goth kids dancing to Lil B-- keeping the audience hanging on his every word. When he jumped, they jumped. When he clapped, they clapped. When he told them to say "brain gang", you bet your ass they did.
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MellowHigh delivered a solid set, spanning material new and old. Domo's verse from Tyler The Creator's "Rusty", which is easily one of the best rap songs of the year, slayed. "Tang Golf", Domo and Hodgy's take on the classic GZA beat for "4th Chamber" was hard to resist, and fans rapped along to every word, even the new stuff. Even during a sound system snafu that would leave them scrambling for five minutes to get their instrumentals back over the speakers, the duo did well on their toes. They riffed with the crowd about how they thought the Bakers BBQ they'd had earlier in the day was nasty, but admitted "...it's probably just because we're not used to it though."
The crowd was easily the best part of this show. These kids were here for two reasons: to watch some live rap music, and to go nuts. Though the weed smell hung heavy in the air, it didn't seem to be high on anyone's priority list to get too fucked up. It was inspiring to see an audience so captivated, so focused on a show's performers, and nothing else. In this day and age, it's all too easy to get distracted with a show's secondary interaction points like vendors and photobooths. While they may seem like a good idea on a flyer, they rarely contribute to the overall ambience and mood of a show. That's the performer's job.
Maybe these kids knew deep down that this would be the last time they'd see MellowHigh in such a small room. Their buzz is rising, and this week's release of the group's self-titled new album will only continue the upswing. Next time they play Dallas, it'll will have to be at House of Blues, at least.