Prior to Flosstradamus’ Friday night performance, the duo sent out 92 powerful characters across the Twitterverse: “BAHAHA S/O THE
#VERYcool ASS DJS OUT THERE PREACHING ABOUT HOW ‘TRAP IS DEAD.’ LOL GTFO BRUH”. Following the duo’s cramped Ultra Music Festival sets, at which even AVICII managed to drop a little trap during his Mainstage appearance, there is little doubt the genre is surging. But as Flosstradamus’s appearance at Cleveland attests, trap is experiencing some growing pains as its hi-hat rolls and snare drum syncopation push further into posh nightclubs.
On the road with Atlanta’s DJ Spinz for 23 dates known as the “Underground Nights Tour”, many aspects of Friday night were in sharp contrast to the underground mentality of Chicago’s Hoodie Boyz. No fault of J2K and Autobot — the same cannot be said for their booking manager — Cleveland’s Liquid was a poor location for the performance. Equipped with a poorly designed sound system, when DJ Spinz was putting his Hood Rich touch on TNGHT or Floss dropped the Candyland OG remix of “Sandstorm”, the bottom end was just too weak to shoot those invisible rattlesnakes of bass up your legs. Planted on the far sides of the room, the sound just didn’t offer full respect to the duo’s productions unless somehow standing in the middle of the bar atop the rows of overpriced spirits.
Despite the sonic setbacks, the house was packed when Spinz hit the stage moments after 11 p.m.. Initially spinning an assortment of sizzurp-heavy Dirty South hip-hop, Spinz induced a heavy lean through the sweaty club before amplifying the mids and pushing booties to the ground. The hysteria on the dance floor was matched by the onstage madness of Spinz and Flosstradamus’ combined entourages, who viewed the show from a set of rear stairs or perched atop the stage monitors… when not stage diving from reckless heights or hyping the crowd. Taking full advantage of Cleveland’s interest in the madness, the door jacked the cover price as the room began to reach capacity near midnight. From a business angle, the decision makes sense; however, in the underground, fans aren’t just unknowing tools for greed.
A duo at the table, J2K is the primary “entertainer” during the Flosstradamus live experience. During the set’s 95 minutes, Autobot’s main concern was mixing through edits of “Hard in Da Paint”, “Same Damn Time”, “Put Yo Hood Up”, RL Grime’s trap take on the overdone “Satisfaction”, and, of course, the fan-favorites “Original Don” and “Express Yourself”; but when J2K found his fingers free, he snagged the mic to shout some unintelligible messages for Cleveland (please note sound system issues above) or crawl above decks to champion the raucous energy. Having seen the duo multiple times at their home base of Chicago — where they are still officially banned from performing at free block parties — their underground mentality is earnest, but when speaking about their roots, it loses some validity when delivered at the same time as a sparkler-adorned bottle of champagne to a VIP table.
In tune with the hip-hop culture, Flosstradamus made it a point to represent the labels that have supported them during their rise to the top of the quickly expanding trap subgenre. After remixing the aforementioned Mad Decent releases, they also rinsed their recent Fool’s Gold release, “Piss Test”, during their short encore.
Exiting the stage around 1:30 a.m., 90% of the crowd remained, transfixed on Flosstradamus’s triangular logo still spinning on the projection screen. The venue may not have been the perfect fit for a Flosstradamus party, but via the duo’s Twitter message: “CLEVELAND WAS DEF THE MOST RATCHET SHOW OF THIS TOUR SO FAR”. And you know it must be the truth, because it’s in all caps.