You won’t get a better pairing of rookies in 2019 than macabre-pop sea-changer Billie Eilish and elder-statesman-like 24-year-old Denzel Curry, as both proved at the Met on Saturday.
A live wire in fluorescent yellow sweats and whipping dreads, Curry is the missing link between Soundcloud rap and classic Miami and West Coast rap. His excellent, lean new ZUU may be the best rap album of the year so far, with such highlights as “Ricky,” “Speedboat,” and the ribald “Shake 88.” His one misstep probably couldn’t be avoided: a few bars by his late former roommate XXXTentacion, and sadly, his only words that every teen in the house knew. But his sign-off was good: making the whole crowd look, à la the circle game, and announcing “I just came here to have fun.”
Any worries about Eilish’s ASMR-championed quiet were put to rest by one of the most explosive entrances this reviewer has ever seen: a Tim Burton-worthy mélange of animated horror, strobe effects, and shrieks that culminated in the diminutive, red-hoodied headliner bounding into view and everyone below car-rental age stomping along to the oddly “Hava Nagila”-like strains of “Bad Guy.” Yes, this is the kind of artist who opens with her biggest hit.
Joined by only her multi-instrumentalist brother Finneas and a drummer, Eilish’s minimalism left plenty of space for hundreds of adoring participants to make up the difference. Thus, the spare musique concrète of her own impressive When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? filled out into anthems worthy of their chart positions: the xx-through-a-ceiling-fan “Ilomilo,” the showstopping cabaret “Wish You Were Gay,” the climactic Addams Family theme-goes-Gary Glitter “Bury a Friend.” Rare is the pop star of any age who gives an anti-drug song the title “Xanny,” much less elephantine drum fills and vaudevillian piano chords.