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Review: Denzel Curry mirrors ‘TA13OO’s’ energy in three-act performance at Portland’s Hawthorne Theatre

Florida rapper Denzel Curry dropped his third studio album in late July, “TA13OO,” in a disjointed fashion: He released it as three separate acts on July 25, 26 and 27. Named “Light,” “Gray” and “Dark,” respectively, the acts joined together to pin up an album that toyed with varying moods. It’s bounded by sharp, dexterous raps and a persona as piercing as the self-portrait cover art.

Following the album’s critical success, Curry is embarking on an international tour. He made a much-anticipated return to Portland with fellow Floridian rapper Kid Trunks at the Hawthorne Theatre on Monday night. Curry’s performance started calm, and like the progression of “TA13OO,” it grew more and more aggressive as the night went on.

The sold-out concert began at 8 p.m. with a barren stage. As Kid Trunks entered from stage left, nothing but the DJ table and a lone mic stand were present.

The 18-year-old rapper donned a humorous bear pajama onesie, heavily contrasting with the aggressive cloud trap he delivered to the crowd of mostly young adults. Kid Trunks opened with “Take A Step Back,” a track by the Floridian rapper Ski Mask The Slump God feat. Xxxtentacion, another Florida-born MC. Both Kid Trunks and Curry showed respect to their fellow statesman multiple times throughout the night.

Kid Trunks interacted with the audience well as he went through his set that included tracks such as “Centerfold,” “Daydream,” “Invisible Klip” and “777.” After leading the crowd through numerous call-and-response chants, he ended his set with a 15-second moment of silence, followed by a two-song tribute to recently deceased rappers Lil Peep and Xxxtentacion.

“If you have a dream, you need to follow it,” he said to the crowd. “If you wanna be on this fucking stage, you could do it.” Kid Trunks then finished his set by delivering passionate renditions of “Falling Down” by Lil Peep feat. Xxxtentacion and “Sad!” by Xxxtentacion.

After a half-hour intermission and multiple “Denzel!” chants from the crowd, the lights dimmed and Curry emerged with the triple album’s opener, “Taboo.” The first act, titled “Light,” features charming, more light-hearted hip-hop tracks. These songs allowed Curry to sway back and forth with the crowd as the song’s grooves filled the theatre.

Wearing his own clothing merch and bundling his dreads atop his head, Curry played every song from the first act of his latest record, along with callbacks from his first album, “Nostalgic 64,” such as “Parents” and “Denny Cascade.” He finished the first act with a crowd favorite, “Sumo,” then exited the stage as its lighting ceased.

A brief, melancholic string interlude signified the transition into the next section, “Gray.”

Curry’s demeanor became more aggressive as he re-emerged to begin the second act of his performance — matching the album’s progression from “Light” to “Gray.” The songs “Super Saiyan Superman,” “Mad I Got It” and “Clout Cobain” yielded intense mosh pit circles from the crowd. Midway through the second act, Curry performed the poignant “Black Malone 2,” a track that didn’t make the final cut on “TA13OO.”

After another empty-staged, orchestral interlude, Curry delivered the final and most energetic leg of his performance. Along with performing the final few tracks of his album, Curry gave spoken tributes to fallen rappers Mac Miller, Lil Peep, and Xxxtentacion, with a rendition of the popular X track, “Look At Me!”

The concert reached an extreme climax when Curry performed his popular hit “Ultimate,” as yet an even more violent mosh pit broke out. At this point, Curry was so hyped up, his raps consisted of raspy shouts instead of the clear voice heard on the studio cuts.

After performing “Black Metal Terrorist,” “TA13OO’s” closer, he exited the stage, but not for the last time. The crowd broke out in yet another “Denzel!” chant, and soon, he re-emerged. In an encore, he fiercely rapped the track “Threatz” from “Nostalgic 64” to the sight of another mosh pit.

As the song reached its conclusion, Curry gave a genuine showing of appreciation to the Portland crowd and exited the stage for the last time, knowing that the city will always welcome him back whenever he tours the world again.

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Jordan Montero

Jordan Montero

Arts & Culture writer for The Daily Emerald. Mostly write music related stuff. Follow me for all of your Jordan Montero needs.
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