Seeing a band or artist for the first time can be a unique high that is only escalated by how long you’ve waited to finally catch them. It’s quite rare though for that personal experience to be shared by an entire room. As the futuristic rap group Deltron 3030 ascended upon Buffalo this past Friday, it’s likely that the majority of the crowd was collectively sharing a moment of seeing a longtime favorite for the first time, at the same time. Walking into the Waiting Room in Buffalo, you could feel that energy of built-up anticipation. The hype for Deltron was everywhere with small groups arguing over his best track and why he ever went on hiatus. Regardless of the reason, Del was in Buffalo and, judging on how packed the venue was, every die-hard in the city was clearly not missing this one.
Kid Koala, Del’s trusted turntablist, played a DJ set before the full group joined him onstage. For most DJ’s that open up for a group or band, they are typically there to warm up the crowd who is usually less than interested. This was not the case tonight as hip hop appreciators from around the city came out in droves and weren’t just going to grab another drink while waiting for the main act. The sea of heads nodded to every scratch as the Kid took to three separate decks. As if for only a taste of what was to come, beats were served up raw, giving samples of samples while juggling all that was coming out of the speakers. Kid Koala’s prowess was immediately noticed as he sliced and spliced his way through his set. As it ended, the crowd bellowed in enthusiasm and appreciation for how he started things off.
With Del up next, nobody seemed to move during set-break. For anyone who thought they’d be able to sneak up to the front, like me, they were sadly mistaken as everyone was holding their ground for the best seat possible. The crowd continued to bob their heads through the intermission as whoever was in control of the house music knew exactly what to play. Classic hip hop from A Tribe Called Quest was sent blasting through the speakers with songs from their ’93 album Midnight Marauders like “Sucka N***a”, “Midnight”, and “Electric Relaxation” all playing back to back. True hip hop is alive and well in America, you just have to know where to find it. We can only hope that with this many appreciators in Buffalo alone, that groups like Deltron 3030 eventually make it back to the top.
As each song finished, every head would turn towards the stage before another would begin to play over the PA. You could feel the tension across the room as everyone wanted to make sure they were ready to catch the first glimpse of Del when he finally walked out. Kid Koala and Dan the Automator were the first ones onstage along with, oddly enough, a full band. There were instruments setup from the time everyone walked in, yet it still took everyone by surprise when band members began picking up their instruments. As Del prepared to make his grand entrance, Kid Koala started spinning “State of the Nation”. Del the Funky Homosapien came out on fire as he launched into “3030” and “Positive Contact”, immediately feeding off of the crowd’s bursting energy. His older rhymes might be dated, technically, but they’re still just as relevant today as they were fourteen years ago. Everyone in the room was expecting Del, Automator, and Koala on their own, but with the band, the music from the past decade plus came alive through full instrumentation.
With so much love and appreciation filling the room throughout the entire night, the group made their way through a mix of songs from their two-album catalog. Kid Koala continued to showcase his skills, switching records mid-song and doing some serious scratching. The ying to Koala’s yang is Dan the Automator. While Kid Koala is a traditional DJ, employing three turntable decks, Dan the Automator embodies the next evolution, utilizing multiple gadgets and adding to the futuristic vision that’s realized through Del’s words. The group wasn’t leaving anything on the table for their first show in Buffalo.
About midway through the set, the group asked for some crowd participation during the new track “Nobody Can”. Dan the Automator asked the crowd to sing along with “Deltron is our hero/If he can’t do it, nobody can”. Del ripped into the intro, swiftly spitting and reinforcing the crowd’s anthem. The room was hotter than it had ever been, but that didn’t stop anyone from moving or getting down. As Deltron 3030 touched on old favorites like “Mastermind”, it was clear the crowd still preferred the old tracks with cell phones being taken out regularly to capture the moment. Throughout then night, the entire group brought so much energy to the stage. Hearing Del’s words live after listening so many times was electrifying, and you could tell the crowd was just absorbing that and giving it right back.
Taking a break, the band and Del left the stage to regroup. Dan the Automator stayed on with Kid Koala as Dan wanted to bring some much-deserved attention to the Kid. He specifically called out that the DJ only spins vinyl, poking a little fun at himself in the process. He went on, describing the inherent risk in Koala’s job as the needle can skip due to crowd noise. The paradox is that it’s the greatest shame for him to have his needle skip as he takes great precaution to stop that, yet it’s the biggest honor when the crowd is going crazy enough to make it do that. Kid Koala then dove into a solo segment like nothing I’ve ever seen live. His ability alone left a lot of jaws open, and upon finishing, had the crowd in a downright uproar.
After coming back out and playing a few more, Deltron 3030 finished up their set with a huge favorite in “Memory Loss”. For everyone who had the album version engrained in their brain over the years, being able to see it live was a real treat. You could see how much Del was enjoying the show as well with frequent grins and clearly giving it his all on the closer. As the song finished up, there was no way the crowd was going to let the group just go home. With some of the loudest cheering I’ve ever heard at a smaller venue, Deltron 3030 happily came back out for a two-song encore of new song “Do You Remember?” and the Gorillaz track “Clint Eastwood” to close out an incredible night of historic futurism.
As Kid Koala spun his turntables into a swirling build, it sounded as though the futuristic spacecraft known as Deltron 3030 was taking off again, leaving the crowd left to wonder when they would see the group again. I can’t say I’ve ever been to a show like this one where eagerness, anticipation, history, and appreciation ran so deep. Knowing it was the first time many in the room got to see Deltron 3030, it’s tough to say if I’ll ever run into those same circumstances; maybe in the future though we can all do it again.
Set #1: State of the Nation, 3030, Positive Contact, Stardate, Pay the Price, Nobody Can, Mastermind, Melding of the Minds, The Agony
<DJ Kid Koala Solo>
Set #2: Virus, Madness, City Rising from the Ashes, Memory Loss
Encore: Do You Remember?, Clint Eastwood