After waiting a little over 15 minutes for the set to start Deltron 3030 finally hit the stage. The crowd skewed a bit older than most hip-hop shows, instead of the usual 19-year olds. It was mostly older hip-hop heads that were fans of the group since their debut album dropped in 2000, which might as well be 1000 years ago in the way that hip-hop changes every few months and careers don’t last more than a few albums. With a backing band consisting of a drummer, guitarist and bassist the group was able to recreate their full sound starting with their intro to the world “3030” from their self titled first album. The band somehow manages to sound futuristic with their other worldly lyrics, while maintaining an 80’s style vibe keeping their music grounded in what made hip-hop its own genre.
What was most impressive was Kid Koala, the bands resident DJ known as one of the best in the business, who had a set up consisting of three turntables. After songs (and sometimes even during them) he would rip off the records on each turntable, throw them into his bag and pull out the next three, all while the band was launching into the next song. With the minimal lighting the band took advantage of their eerie stylings and played some of their spoken word pieces like “Stardate” which is narrated by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Rapper Del The Funk Homosapien who is known for his odd lyrics and frequent collaborations was able to repeat his syrup-y loose flow while not missing a note and always following the beat. He asked the crowd a few times if they forgave the band for showing up late, to which everyone always cheered. The small venue of Tattoo on Queen, works great for live shows since it is always packed and everyone has a good view of the stage. Del claimed “I went back to my hotel room and everyone was looking for me, so I skated back here for the show”, proving that he is in a different world compared to other rappers. Del couldn’t be more laid back and different from his cousin Ice Cube.
Dan the Automator, who played the samples and synthesizers working in conjunction with Kid Koala acted like overlords of the music. They worked in harmony, Dan dropping beats and Koala able to scratch the samples like a true maestro. The set consisted mostly of songs from their just released second album Event II. The guys took a hiatus of 14 years between releases and their style still had such a vision to accomplish what they originally set out to create. Dan stepped out behind his mother ship and taught the crowd how to sing the chorus of “Nobody Can”. The band had a super funky vibe to them, deftly crossing between blues and alternative rock. Dan had joked about how he had dropped several hundred dollars in a record shop and he was single handedly keeping our economy afloat.
Midway through the set the band left the stage and the lights dimmed, Koala was putting on a clinic of his skills scratching alone. He dropped a Jay-Z instrumental beat and went to work like a surgeon. He was mixing the beat with other music but watching him gently lift the needles then dropping them in the precise right spot was amazing. If you ever get a chance to see a real turntable DJ, every club DJ will look like a phony.
Seeing Dan and Del rap together on “The Return” shouting each other out was pretty cool to see. Three very different musicians all working together in perfect harmony made the crowd constantly sway back and forth the whole set. When they played “Virus” a song that must have been inspired by the ending of Fight Club the band made the song much darker than it is on the album. It went from a tongue-in-cheek song to it sounding like they were actually taking the world down and they were recruiting for their own monkey army.
The small crowd managed to make plenty of noise when the band went off, shouting “Deltron!” to get them to play an encore. The guys came on stage and told the venue to keep the lights down while they burst into “Do You Remember” a standout from their new album. Dan wondered into the crowd and played a wireless sample machine while Del looked like he took a shower during the set. Dan and Koala’s upbeat personality is infectious that you just have to smile and groove along with them. Dan leaned into his mic and stated they would only play another song if someone threw a joint on stage.
They finished off the set with “Clint Eastwood” an old school Gorillaz song that features Del rapping, while Dan produced the whole debut album for Damon Albarn’s cartoon band. The crowd sung along the catchy chorus that was a hit back in 2001. They extended the song by adding a hurricane of noise at the end that had a crescendo that lasted several minutes. Shrill guitar notes mixed with furious scratching and alien noises coming out of Dan’s synths. When the set finished Del ran over to the merch table where he was crowded with happy fans pushing their way up to get a picture with him. Dan stood on stage while the crew packed up and he talked to happy fans and shook hands with anyone who wanted to show their respect (including this writer!). These three legends somehow are even greater then the sum of their parts and put on a crazy can’t miss show.