For Lil B, the 24 year old Berkeley rapper, the internet has always been the place where his relentless productivity found an audience with the thirst to absorb nearly limitless amounts of content. The result is a sprawling catalogue of singles, mixtapes, YouTube videos, tweets, remixes, and the like that — without serious devotion — is practically impossible to fully grasp. But Friday night’s sold-out show at The Regency put a face to the faithful cult of #BasedGod.
Even after doors opened, a line wrapped up Van Ness and snaked down one of those wet, trashy side-alleys that run like veins into the Tenderloin. The kids were out en masse and buzzing with energy — weed smoke and echoing BASED GOD shouts hung in the alley. By the time The Pack, Lil B’s first rap group, who rose to fame with the Bay Area hit “Vans” (but they look like sneakers), finished warming up the crowd, I felt way too old and also very, very alive. Mosh pits began to form. People in the crowd literally knew every word of Lil B’s two hour set. The floor shook when Lil B launched into crowd pleasers like “Wonton Soup,” “Ellen Degeneres,” and “I’m God.” His between-song sermons on positivity, the West Coast, nerd thugs and #based lifestyle gave the crowd plenty to shout about while raising their hands in prayer. And the diverse crowd that represented close to every ethnicity in the Bay Area lent the concert a very real, no bullshit vibe, a sort of alternate universe where all the never-ending teenage drama ceases to exist when placed in the hands of this kind-of-brilliant, kind-of-insane Berkeley rapper named Lil B.
For at least the first half of the show, the Regency crowd was so enthusiastic that I fully wondered if suddenly anything was possible. Someone threw Lil B a painted portrait of the rapper, which he proudly sang behind for a full song. Kids were jumping on stage and dancing until they were pushed off by security. The mosh pits kept bouncing. And Lil B kept rapping — for two hours. It was an impressive display of stamina and, more than that, it seemed to be a sincere gesture of appreciation to his fans for sticking around and accepting Lil B’s based lifestyle without irony or sarcasm. Very rare indeed.