Southpaw, in Park Slope, is dark and uncrowded. The sparse crowd is an awkward, eclectic mix. In one corner a DJ spins nineties rap, watched by awestruck preppy hipsters in peach button-downs. Most of the crowd clusters happily by the long bar. Chiddy Bang’s first New York City headlining show is performed for no more than forty people, happy drunk girls and guys in their thirties absently sipping a beer and, in one corner, a white-haired couple I assume are somebody’s grandparents.I have never seen live rap before, with the exception of one Talib Kweli song. But Chiddy Bang aren’t really a rap group like you’d expect them to be.
They start off with a remix/cover of Kid Cudi’s “Day and Night” – three on stage, all very young-looking. Chidera Anamege, better known as Proto, who is credited on myspace with “rhymes,” is introduced as “the lyrical assassin,” and, indeed, his delivery of snappy couplets is just as smooth live as it is recorded. His hypeman, Ted, is energetic and enthusiastic, and Noah Beresin, their producer, who is probably eighteen and fiddles with a laptop and Korg synthesizer, introduces each song with some youthful banter (in the beginning of “Kids,” he plays a bit of the theme – “You guys know what song that is? Put your hands up if you know what song that is.”)
After their Kid Cudi remix, Chiddy Bang welcome their remaining two members to the already-crowded stage. They are joined by a drummer, Zach Sewall, and a guitarist, Pat Braz – who manages, with his dramatic stage presence, to draw almost as much attention as Chidera and Ted. Chiddy Bang don’t seem as much like a rap group as they seem like a band – not only in their addition of instruments, but in their group aesthetic and appreciation for each other. I was especially impressed by this – Chiddy Bang is not one guy and his backup band, but an actual collective of musicians.
Chiddy Bang deliver a short but sweet performance that seems to delight the crowd. Their songs have great beats and great lyrics and they have a great stage presence for such a young band. “Kids” seems to be the best-received song, if only for that now-classic rhythm. The happy drunk girls spin each other around and the beer-coddling dudes bob their heads. Chiddy Bang perform everything in their catalogue – with especially remarkable performances of “Sooner or Later” and “Ice Cream Man.”
My only complaint: I wish that Chiddy Bang had more songs to perform, because, while I didn’t count, it felt like about seven. I must attest though that those seven songs are excellent, live and recorded, and I’m usually not one for rap music. These songs are joyous, youthful, ecstatic; perfect songs for a warm spring night. It was very lovely, at the end, to go out into Park Slope with my ears buzzing thinking “I ain’t never growing up.”