It wasn't long after Makonnen took the stage around 10:30 pm last night at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn that the building began to shake. It started under the floorboards, reverberating through the basement bar that props the place up before moving upward and infiltrating the walls. Pretty soon it felt like the whole room was moving, that the bass was consuming everything and everyone in the crowd.

That's when the mushrooms kicked in.

Just kidding; I wasn't personally on any particular psychedelics last night, though judging by how thrown off the bouncers at the door were, most everyone else was on a different wave from the usual Wednesday night crowd. But then again, Makonnen and fellow Atlanta-based openers Key! and Sonny Digital aren't your average musicians, either. And in the second of his first two major headlining appearances in New York City—following his performance Tuesday night at the Bowery in Manhattan—the OVO signee who is, like it or not, leading the charge out of his hometown right now submitted a statement performance that will help divert those who write him off as a one-hit wonder.

But first up was Key!, whose buzz as a songwriter and the unsung backbone of what many are calling the New Atlanta sound has earned him respect and credibility more than fame and fortune. His bone-shattering "U Guessed It," another song he co-wrote that is now solely associated with OG Maco, woke the crowd up quick. But Makonnen's response from the crowd—made up mostly of younger white kids whispering excitedly about how lit everything was—ramped the energy up immediately. As "Man Of The Party" melded into "Whip It," recently remixed with Migos, Makonnen had his own superstar moment on stage, accepting a blunt from the crowd, smoking it and passing it back. A rap show cliche, maybe, but a rite of passage along the way as well.

Makonnen definitely had his audience's attention—that rattling bass was so all-consuming to the point of overwhelming at times—but his catalog is still inconsistent. Songs like "Doubted" and "Down 4 So Long" are both incredible live, with the MC's strained-to-the-point-of-losing-it vocals giving each the emotional pull that makes them work. But Father's "Nokia" and Carnage's "I Like Tuh" are both unbelievably stupid songs. "I Don't Sell Molly No More" featured an assist from someone he pulled from the crowd and was fun in its familiarity; "Wrist," however, is still one of the dumbest tracks I've ever personally heard. It's that back and forth between quality and inanity that keeps Makonnen firmly in the oddball lane that he covets, if he were to covet any one lane at all. It's not really clear if he cares either way.

But Makonnen's performance overall was capped by his final two songs, "Swerve" and "Tuesday," the first of which brought the crowd's biggest reaction and the second of which operated as a swan song, signaling the end of the night rather than the start of it. The fact that Makonnen, whose previous performances in the City tended to be shorter, truncated spots rather than full-on shows, was able to entertain for 45 minutes is no longer based on the strength of one song. Makonnen's building a catalog of hits, one small brick at a time. Whether it stands the test of time remains to be seen. —Dan Rys

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