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Pouya Concert Review

Pouya greeting fans after the show
Pouya is a 21 year-old rapper from Miami, Florida. He and his collective -- known as Buffet Boys -- have spent the last three years securing their place in underground hip-hop. Through a steady stream of mixtapes and frequent touring Pouya and his friends have gained a loyal cult following and have made the jump from playing small spots like the Jackpot to theaters like The Granada. The Underground Underdog tour -- named after Pouya's debut LP -- stopped in Lawrence on Wednesday night and things got exceptionally rowdy.

Despite the absence of popular Buffet Boy Fat Nick, Pouya came with Germ, Ramirez, and Shakewell in tow. The four rappers took the stage together to a wild applause from a crowd that was so ready to party that they had been moshing during the DJ set beforehand. The brand of hip-hop that Pouya and his friends create couldn't lend itself more to a college town party setting. Their rhymes are delivered in a rapid-fire fashion, the beats all feature thunderous 808's and skittering hi-hats, and nearly every song includes an easy "3-2-1" countdown for when the crowd should lose their shit. The Granada hadn't seen a rap show crowd this active since Odd Future several years ago and I don't believe Odd Future provoked two different walls of death, a circle pit, and a dozen other mosh pits. Most people on the floor were also subject to numerous bottles of water being sprayed from the stage and a select few felt a quick mist from shotgunned PBR's.

The names of all four rappers were placed on the bill separately, leading to the assumption that they would be performing separate sets. There aren't many things more tiresome than watching a notable rapper wheel out every member of their entourage for a set before the main event, so Pouya's choice to meld his set together with his friends was a welcome one. The early part of the set included solo songs from Ramirez, Germ, and Shakewell as well as songs where they collaborated with each other and Pouya. The three accompanying rappers eventually waded off to hang out on the sides of the stage as Pouya began performing songs off of his solo mixtapes and new album.

Germ and Shakewell
Highlights from Pouya's set included $uicideboy$ collaboration "$outh $ide $uicide," delinquent instruction manual "Great Influence," and "Shawty Independent" -- the closest thing the crew has to a love song. Many deride Pouya and his team for their borrowing of Three 6 Mafia flows and the dark, grimy imagery in their songs while making music mostly consumed by white kids from the suburbs -- and this is a valid issue for some who were raised on tough hip-hop made by real gangsters. If this is all something you can get past and the Buffet Boys' style of hip-hop is for you however, there is no doubt that these independent, SoundCloud-loving underdogs are throwing some of the most exciting hip-hop shows in America.

Kansas experimental hip-hop trio Ebony Tusks performed an opening set before Pouya took the stage. All three members were older than a majority of the crowd, but that didn't stop them from putting on an intense set and undoubtedly connecting with a few new faces. The group faced technical difficulties early on in the set and rapper Martinez Hillard's vocals weren't always audible enough, but there was no way of putting a lid on the primal energy they performed with and the monstrous beats they performed over. The guys have opened for a wide array of different acts -- many on the more abstract side -- but they knew exactly which songs to play for Pouya's young and eager-to-bounce crowd. While this set flew over the heads of many, the real heads knew what was up.

SuperShaqGonzoe was the first to perform on Wednesday night. Gonzoe's highly accessible, party-ready rap was devoured by the crowd like candy. He performed three tracks from his recent "One Day" EP and partied onstage for two Waka Flocka Flame songs while hopping around and executing one of the most successful crowd surfs any concert opener could hope for.

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