It wasn’t until nearly midnight when the Hollywood sign-like letters flashed on in the darkness to spell out Rusko. Before then, Sigma performed covers of Waka Flocka Flame’s "Hard in Da Paint," Big Sean’s "Dance," Flux Pavillion’s "Bass Cannon" and hundreds of midriff-bearing, neon-wearing, 20-somethings and teenagers with unforgiving black X’s on their hands tried to figure out why Rusko was so late.
Those standing in the front row came to a consensus: It didn’t matter. He’s Rusko.
The English dubstep DJ ran onstage grinning, with messy mohawked blond hair and pale, skinny legs. He exerted an immediate kind of confidence that showed he was comfortable on stage at the sound table. He didn’t wear any shoes, just some black Nike socks conducive to sliding and shuffling.
The second Rusko pressed a button, a resounding bass pumped through Rams Head Live, one that Sigma failed to deliver. He opened with several unreleased, fresh tracks that sent the crowd fist-pumping and moving in waves to the bass. Rusko added a few reps of jumping jacks for good measure.
Through a rendition of "Stars Come Out," Rusko fans began to hear traces of an outer space-like hook that expectedly turned into a five-minute version of "Pro Nails." Midway through the track, the place heated up when four exotic dancers wearing over-the-knee boots and equally as long hair extensions planted themselves on either side of the sound table. With the help of Rusko’s drops, the venue turned into an inferno, rather than just a concert hall.
Rusko then dove straight into the famous reggae-inspired "Skanker" that caused the initially standing-still crowd to throw their bodies into the bass, and those who were already moving to completely lose it. After mistakenly addressing the crowd as New York City — which no one seemed to mind too much — he slowed things down with an easy and steady "Da Cali Anthem," which caused him to lose some momentum.
He then launched into a 10-minute, impressive performance of "Somebody to Love," complete with suggestive gestures under the sound table and shuffling across the stage (reminiscent of a blue crab). Rusko immediately redeemed himself.
By this time, a pile of various items thrown by energized fans had formed on the edge of the stage: a trucker hat, a light-up pacifier, a multitude of ice cubes, a pair of female reading glasses. Rusko added to the pile by tossing over some glow sticks. Other than that, he barely acknowledged the audience; he seemed to be in his own dub-world.
He stayed in his own head for what seemed like the next 20 minutes, and the audience got lulled into his syrupy basses and started to lose energy. The front of the crowd began to thin out, the bar filled up and people checked their phones to see what they had missed outside of Rams Head Live.
Until the King Crab began to tease the crowd with pieces of the legendary "Everyday," that is. He eased into it, fortunately, making the crowd beg with applause, and finally gave in by playing the full track. The lights flashed back and forth from blinding light to darkness through intense "Woo Boost," poppy "Hold On," and mixes of DMX’s "Party Up (Up in Here)" and Dem Franchize Boyz’ "Lean wit It, Rock wit It."
The encore included "Cockney Thug," where the crowd took care of all the expletives, never failing to scream any out. Yet for such a high-energy show, the ending seemed tired and anti-climactic. Rusko chucked what looked like a shower scrubber into the crowd and slid off in his socks. The Hollywood lights went out.
He didn’t disappoint loyal fans or newcomers, but next time he shows up two hours late to his concert, he might need more of an excuse than "just being Rusko."
Ellie Kahn is a senior at the Park School of Baltimore and an intern at the Baltimore Sun. This is her first review for Midnight Sun. Wesley Case edited this review.