Vancouver, BC – Even if you weren’t previously aware of the boutique denim shop that Matt Brevner was set to perform at this past Friday for the release of his upcoming EP, walking down any direction on Cordova and Cambie Street that night it was apparent that something deviant was going down in the ‘hood. Outside Dutil stood a few smoking crowds and a small lineup. The vibe was inclusively exclusive, where stating your name at the door meant the difference between witnessing a unique event first hand or watching from the outside, peering through a pair of large glass windows.
Cool indigo lighting took over the inside of the Gastown heritage space painting the walls and high ceilings a blueish purple tone. By 8:30 the cleared out denim shop was filled with the company of artists, DJs, rappers, supporters, press and family. Hustling through the mob to the back of the shop got you a cold beer but making the trip through the impressively swollen crowd was task for the most ambitious.
By 9pm members of Brevner’s band – Braeden “Withinroots” Vanderzalm and Nico “NDT” DeTorres set up in the two windows on either side of the shop’s entrance. Shortly after, Brevner was introduced from above the doorframe, overlooking his audience – “There are a lot of people here who don’t know me at all…and a lot of people who know me really well”. His vibe was warmly aware making the room resonate with a vibe that can only occur through connecting like-minded people in the same space. Brevner has the ability to bring a feeling of harmony to a spot, and certainly on this particular evening. From the bat, it was a show very unlike any other Vancouver has seen.
He started off with a track called “Chico” from his upcoming release BREVNER EP with Withinroots and NDT on the keys providing an undeniably chilling intro. With one of the first in his set, this song was also one of the rawest and more real – both lyrically and compositionally. The track started off slow and delicate then perfectly contrasted with verses progressing into something grimey and undisguised – “Nice guy with a dark past / hard work made me humble, never lost class”. In all honesty, it was haunting and although this was just the beginning it was hard not to immediately pick favorites with this track.
With BREVNER EP’s debut single “All We Know” being released that same week, dropping it in his set was a no-brainer, and effective because with a good view it was easy to witness a large portion of the crowd singing along to the “gettin’ money” hook. Brev has been a little more blatant with his villainous tendencies lately while managing to maintain a low key nice-guy balance but when he dropped “Give A Fuck” (which will feature Rome Fortune on the EP) that bad-boy shit was really working for him. Black t-shirt, dark denim and rounded out shades with his hair tightly braided, his image was definitely fresh and to use his own words, very “Young Jap-black Frank Sinatra”.
He closed the 20-minute set with a cover – Kanye’s “Roses” – which he mentioned he didn’t want to do but considering the track meant a whole lot to him since losing his Grandmother and “best friend” late last year, he felt it was an appropriate homage. It was perfect. Most people knew the lyrics, and almost all of us could relate to the pain of losing someone. Whether collecting a room on one solid vibe of creating and supporting good art was his goal or not, he certainly maintained just that. Brevner also showcased his growth as an artist and came into his own in front of his community. A tastemaker and rare Vancouver visionary making dope art and encouraging his peers to join him in doing and supporting the same; it was a beautiful and compelling thing to witness.
Review and photos by Kassandra Guagliardi for HipHopCanada