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Yung Lean Concert Review

Yung Lean
January 28th, 2018
The Granada - Lawrence, KS

Yung Lean
Very few rappers -- or popular musicians in general -- of the 2010's have proven to be more enigmatic than Sweden's Yung Lean. Since his ascent to online fame in 2013 following his memeable "Ginseng Strip 2002" video, the now-21 year-old has transformed from a clever young cloud rapper with a taste for Arizona tea, to an avant-garde force who, along with Sad Boys producers Yung Gud and Yung Sherman, has come to stand on the cutting edge of modern hip-hop. Nearly five years after his initial rise, Lean made his first visit to Kansas on Sunday night.

Although several hundred fans made their way in from the cold, The Granada was not sold out. But that may have been a good thing. It's often apparent at other concerts that when an artist neglects their early material, many attending become visibly uninterested in what's happening on stage. Perhaps due to the five year wait for his first visit to the area, such hypebeasts were naturally weeded out, leaving only a core of highly supportive fans in attendance.

Thaiboy Digital
The setlist, while focusing on Lean's latest album, "Stranger," also made for a satisfying sampler that shifted between three different modes. Early hits like "Ginseng Strip" and "Hurt" hardly required any participation on Lean's part. The songs' memorable head-scratcher lyrics and light instrumentation prompted plenty of trap arms and sing-alongs. The futuristic, souped-up bangers of the last three albums -- "Hoover," "Yoshi City," and others -- provided an impressive amount of kinetic energy and allowed fans to dance their hearts out as colorful lights bounced around the room and off the giant, inflatable dogs in black metal tees on stage.

The third mode, which tied the show together and sealed the deal, was Lean's balladry. "Red Bottom Sky" and "Agony" are both songs from "Stranger" that feature Lean reflecting on a mental breakdown he suffered back in 2015 while staying in Miami. Several substance abuse problems collided, Lean ached for his girlfriend back home, and his manager died in a car accident. These two tracks painted immersive pictures of the young talent's darkest days and it was clear that every soul in the room connected on one level or another.

The show's lone opening act was Thai rapper and frequent Sad Boys collaborator Thaiboy Digital. The wiry, mohawked musician scuttled across the stage, chain swinging, belting out autotuned melodies that would make Chief Keef proud. Despite lacking a true hit, the crowd instantly fell for the giddy young vocalist and his set of subwoofer-checking electronic hip-hop tracks.

Full photo gallery here.

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