Hoodie Allen at Summit Music Hall, 9/23/12

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In the moments before Hoodie Allen took the stage at Summit Music Hall, the anticipation was reaching a breaking point, and the tension was as thick as the combination of the smoke drifting off the stage from the machines and the smoke drifting onto the stage from...other things. In the audience, elbows banged and rested on the backs in front of them as people pushed to try to get as close to the stage as possible. Everybody was trying to get closer to stage, but nobody was leaving. Anywhere remotely close to the stage, there simply wasn't room to budge.

Finally the MC walked onto the stage, and that was all he had to do to blow the lid off the place. When he launched into "The Chase is On," the roof shot into the stratosphere. Allen tacked off banger after banger, more than a couple of which sounded like they could have been number one hits, at least from below the stage. Everything sounds better live, but these sounded really, really good, the best of which being "Eighteen Cool," which was just amazing.

But the highlight of the show was, surprisingly, not his music, which is saying a lot about the spectacle that came near the end of the show. Allen explained that he had a backpack full of free gear to give away: shirts, hats and the like. The MC announced that a dance-off would decide who would take the prize, and when he asked who wanted to participate, and invariably every person within a hundred feet started screaming their throat hoarse, he looked like a kid in a candy store trying to choose.

He picked one guy because he showed him his nipples, a girl because he liked the way her face looked and two others. The first guy kind of danced, but never really got into it. The next girl got really into it, but got shown up when the girl after her took off her shirt and wrapped around Allen's neck, prompting him to say (in a reference to Chief Keef's smash), "That's the shit I do like." Finally, this sort of dorky looking kid with glasses from what he described as lame-ass Pueblo blew everyone's mind with an impressive breakdance show. He beat the girl who took her shirt off -- and that's a miracle if ever we've seen one.

With the groundwork for Allen's feel-good, lighthearted brand of hip-hop firmly established by Mac Miller before him, this could very well be the next generation of mainstream hip-hop. It cannot be overstated to what extent the crowd loved this show. There was one breathing point during the show, an acoustic rendition of "Lucky Man" about halfway through the show, but that was it. It was energy on top of energy on top of energy and, amazingly, it was never too much!

Before Hoodie Allen killed it, G-Eazy killed it. Every single performer got the crowd hyped, but this show was lined up correctly. Still, if there was one thing I learned from the performances, it was that ladies love G-Eazy; they absolutely adore him. By the time he got to "Marylin," they were going bananas. B-A-N-A-N-A-S. The show wasn't just for the fairer sex, though, Eazy was more than solid all the way through. Probably the most impressive aspect of his music was his excellent use of samples which included a wonderfully nostalgic rendition of "Runaround Sue" and a divine flip of Denver pop band Tennis's "Marathon" in "Waspy."

The two local acts, Splyt and the Broadway, also held their own. As a matter of fact, after they performed, it was kinda hard to believe the headliners could follow them (though they did, and then some). Although Splyt didn't perform best over its own tracks, the crew had pretty good taste in beat selection, rapping over Hit-Boy, Kanye and Clams Casino.

The Broadway was the most genre-bending act of the night, rocking the area somewhere between alt-rock, EDM and hip-hop. They were also the most profane, which was understandable. One of the two leading MCs explained himself, "I'm sorry I'm cussing so much, we're just really excited." So was everybody else.


Personal Bias: I had heard of Hoodie Allen coming into the show, but none of his music, and none of the other performers. I was blown away. This isn't my style of hip-hop, generally, but this was one of the best shows I've ever seen purely because of the insane energy in the building. Like all performers, Hoodie kept talking about how Denver was his favorite place ever -- blah, blah... but by the end, he started talking about how this was the best show on the tour yet. I'm pretty sure he was telling the truth.

Random Detail: I'm pretty young, and I knew the crowd was, in general, younger than me, but I didn't realize just how young most people were until Allen's band started the riff of "All the Small Things" to general unrecognition. The crowd did recognize it once the lyrics came around, though. Also, one of Allen's song included a little ode to OutKast's "Roses," which, compared to the rest of the show, got surprisingly little singalong. Go figure.

By The Way: There was an aspect of Allen's performance that was silly and interesting in the context of hip-hop culture as a whole. There has always been an aspect of postmodernism present in hip-hop with its heavily referential nature, but the MC, at times, took it to the level of a Lil B or RiFF RaFF with songs like "James Franco" and to a lesser extent covers of "Party in the U.S.A.," "All the Small Things," and "(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party)." Allen also asked the crowd to pose for a photo for Facebook, apparently a Hoodie Allen tradition, then asked everyone to tag themselves. This is indeed a strange new world of hip-hop we're entering.

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