'The Automator' and Del the Funky Homosapien perform with Deltron 3030 Thursday night at Detroit's Garden Theater. (Adam Graham / Detroit News)
High concept hip-hop troupe Deltron 3030 opened Detroit’s Garden Theater at Midtown Thursday, ushering in a new concert era in the city.
The 1,300-capacity theater on Woodward Avenue, kitty corner from the Majestic Theatre complex, looked and sounded impressive in its coming out party. Exposed brick lines the interior walls of the theater, which houses a stage that’s raised roughly three feet above the concrete floor. An eyeball estimate put Thursday’s crowd at about half-capacity, which felt comfortable but allowed for plenty of room to roam around on the general admission floor.
Deltron 3030, which just released its first album in 13 years, played a loose 85-minute set that was driven by Del the Funky Homosapien’s breathless, heavy rhyme patterns. Del has been a left-field hip-hop presence for more than 20 years, content with a background role but occasionally willing to step forward to remind listeners of his deep skill set. Deltron, Del’s group with producer Dan “The Automator” Nakamura and Kid Koala, is built around Del, and he shines in his role.
The threesome was backed by a three-piece band (including the Mars Volta’s Juan Alderete on bass), one of two configurations Deltron is currently touring with. (On select dates, the group is performing with an orchestra.) Nakamura took on the role of host/MC for the evening, and also made sure to give the crowd frequent Tigers updates. (He attended the game earlier in the evening, and showed off his tickets to prove it as he hit the stage.)
Opening with “3030,” from the group’s debut, Deltron focused on early songs before moving on to material from “Event 2,” which was released last month. The group has a sci-fi bend that wasn’t entirely carried out in the bare bones show, which lacked in visual presentation. But Del painted pictures with his words, especially during an encore of “Do You Remember,” which finds his character looking back on earlier eras, lamenting “not to get into nostalgia, but some of those things had value.” The show closed with Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood,” which the Deltron players can lay plenty claim to; Del rapped on the song, and Nakamura produced it. Surely, Damon Albarn would give his blessings to the Deltron boys.
And Deltron gave their blessings to the Garden Theater with a successful opening night, one of what is hopefully many more to come.