Last Night: Devin the Dude at Warehouse Live
It's good to spend the holidays with friends and family. For Houston hip-hop fans on Wednesday, that meant celebrating Thanksgiving Eve with everyone's beloved stoned uncle, Devin the Dude, and his whole Coughee Brothaz clique at Warehouse Live.
There were a lot of couples in the crowd, and a lot of groups of what looked like high-school friends. Everyone was back in town, it seemed, and nobody had school or work the next day. An appearance by the Dude provided the perfect excuse to get blazed as fuck with old pals before submitting to family obligations.
Now, it's not quite December yet, but the festive greenery was already aglow with winter cheer inside the Warehouse ballroom, from practically the moment the first needle hit wax. Devin's long career has afforded him fans young and old, black and white. One thing they all seem to share is a love of the herb.
When I arrived, it was Austin's Phranchyze who faced the fog. Opening for Devin the Dude in Houston can be a rough gig, and the noted battle-rapper had to deal with a few chants of "Devin! Devin!" during his set.
He handled them deftly, encouraging the chants and energizing the crowd with "Exodus," his pointed, personal rumination on the limits of faith from his latest mixtape, Phranye West. It's a song that can't help but get a crowd's attention, and those who opened their ears were introduced to a rising Texas talent.
That much was made clear by an excellent set-closing freestyle that informed the rapper's competition that their "flow is mediocre like the Astros." It was pretty fucking funny, despite a few good-natured jeers from loyal 'Stros fans in the audience.
Devin the Dude's big Warehouse shows over the last couple years haven't entirely been hip-hop concerts. The rapper has taken to performing with a live band, and the ensemble he brought out on Wednesday lent a jazzy R&B feel to every tune he played.
Despite much of the crowd's youth, Devin is unapologetically peddling grown-folks rap music these days, live in concert, and his fans of all ages appeared down with it Wednesday. In addition to guitar, bass, keys and drums, the band was rounded out by a trumpet, a tenor sax, a flute and a goddamn vibraphone. You do not see this at Waka Flocka Flame shows, one presumes.
Devin opened with a cut from his semi-recent Landing Gear record, "In My Draws," that served roughly the same function as that tune Willy Wonka sang about "Pure Imagination." It was time to leave all troubles behind and enter Devin's happy headspace.