\After talking with his tour manager Brad, realizing the onslaught of friends not fans, but mostly white teenage girls, filing in line to get in to the Cattivo had started almost an hour before doors opened at 6:00P.M. and that the tour bus trailer’s axle had broken, albeit after the fact, it was decided my interview with hip-hop’s hippie, Mod Sun, 30, would be moved to after the show.
There was a silver lining: the non-traditional early show started at 6:30P.M, so my interview was conducted at approximately 10:00P.M., all things considered.
My photographer, Benton Palermo, and I made it downstairs to the stage where only VIP’s had been allowed to file in, as we got ready for the night’s assignment.
Born Derek Smith and from Bloomington, Minnesota, Mod Sun, which stands for Movement On Dreams, Stand under None, officially became an artist in 2009, on the heels of being a drummer for post-hardcore bands Four Letter Lie, 2004-2009, and Scary Kids Scaring Kids, 2009-2010, respectively. Mod Sun said on the No Jumper Podcast in 2016 that he joined the latter simply because he decided to say yes to everything for a month after watching Yes Man.
Since 2009, Mod Sun’s released a gang of mixtapes and EPs, most notably Happy As Fu*k, spawning Mod Sun staple track “Stoner Girl”. But, it wasn’t until 2015, now signed to independent label Rostrum Records, that Mod Sun’s independent grind enabled him to enjoy the fruits of his labor with the release of debut studio album Look Up, spawning another staple track, “Howlin’ At the Moon”, and one of my personal favorites “Shoot ‘Em Down” (feat. MGK, Blackbear).
In addition, the album’s peak position on the Billboard 200 at 120, peaking at 1 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart as well. 2017 was a hallmark year for Mod Sun, as he released two albums, Movie and BB, respectively. In fact, a movie titled album was released to coincide with the former while the album peaked at 16 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers chart.
Hip-hop’s hippie considers himself to be the godfather of happy rap, a style fellow rappers Kyle and Lil Yatchy have been able to cross over to mainstream hip-hop. Mod Sun’s decision to be happy no matter what occurred after an LSD trip. With a positive attitude, Mod Sun said “everything you are can become everything you were”. Also, Mod Sun’s trip lead to him authoring the book Did I Ever Wake Up?. In addition to being a rapper and author, Mod Sun was/is/will be, respectively, a dentist, a poet, and a film a director.
BB, the surprise album he’s currently supporting on tour, was self-produced and created in 30 days. Mod Sun made “happyBB”, the album’s lead single, in 10 minutes, he said, and that after playing it for his girlfriend Bella Thorne and seeing the single’s reaction, he went into album mode.
The night kicked off at approximately 6:30P.M. when Lost in Vegas, with orange, blonde hair and a full beard, came on stage. With just over 3,000 Twitter followers, Lost in Vegas, with an Hawaiian shirt, a slew of gold necklaces and wristbands, accompanied by a ring on his right index finger, and black boots and skinny jeans, had the crowd head-bopping.
“I have a question,” Lost in Vegas said to the crowd. “Middle fingers up if you have an ex you hate.”
Hands went up as fans were clapping, the beat dropped, and the crowd swayed. In addition, Lost in Vegas “stole” a fan’s pair of shades to wear during his set and “stole” another’s phone to take a crowd selfie. The crowd seesawed between dead and picking up through the set. Lost in Vegas’ most notable song to date is “Hollywood Signs” (feat. Mod Sun), which he played, before ending his set around 6:45P.M with an accapela freestyle.
“After this show, I want to talk to everyone and I want you to have the time of your life,” Lost in Vegas said.
Around 6:50P.M., Brennan, essentially a lesser known Mod Sun, came on stage. In all black and an orange skully hat, orange, blonde dreadlocks and gold necklaces, and a slew of wristbands complimenting his right arm’s full-sleeve of tattoos, Brennan wanted to get the crowd engaged.
Brennan introduced another song stating it was about “getting fucked up”. In addition, he played a guitar solo, also letting the crowd know he graduated from Duquesne. In fact, he ended his set around 7:10P.M. covering Khalid. With just under 5,000 Twitter followers, Brennan’s most notable song to date is “Tuesday”.
“Come fuck with me after the show,” Brennan said.
Around 7:15P.M., Karizma, in all white, black boots and glasses, and a yellow raincoat turned me into a fan after his set.
With just over 37,000 Twitter followers, Karizma occupies a weird space where he isn’t near headliner Mod Sun’s level (yet), but he has more followers than the first two openers combined.
“How we feeling tonight,” Karizma said. “I can’t hear you, c’mon.”
Toward the end of his set, Karizma brought out a little guitar that he played while performing an acapella version of “Frank Ocean”. Karizma ended his set playing “F U Til I F U” (feat. Cass) after performing “Angel”, which he said was about his alcoholic mother, to the crowd waving their hands back and fourth and huddled around him after he entered the crowd from the stage.
“I’m happy I’m not an angel yet,” Karizma said. “We’re in Pittsburgh.”
Arriving two minutes after his set began because of his tour bus trailer’s broken axle, Mod Sun, with green shades and a white and blue robe, a white t-shirt and an aroma of marijuana, and black leather sweatpants with his hair in two ponytails hit the stage around 7:55P.M. Not to go unnoticed, Mod Sun had silver bedazzled Doc Martens boots and an orange belt that complimented the endless tattoos he had on his chest and stomach.
“Fuck with me, baby,” said Mod Sun, easing to the front of the stage. “One of my favorite cities, where my hippies at. Pittsburgh, y’all feeling it.”
And just like that, the show had started. The crowd sang every word and clapped their hands, and moms and daughters danced together.
“Where the fuck my weed smokers at,” said Mod Sun, adjusting the wrist bands on his arm. “Whose got good weed tonight. Say ‘I love weed’. Say “thank you, weed’. Are y’all ready for the greatest house party of y’all lives.”
As the songs changed, the crowd went from clapping to moving their arms up and down. Mod Sun riffled through his catalog performing songs “Shoot ‘Em Down” and “Spent All My Money” (feat. Blackbear) before going into “Two” and “Stoner Girl”, respectively.
Mod Sun said he came to Pittsburgh to have the best time of his life, as he began playing the drums (He played the harmonica later). A man of the people, Mod Sun handed the mic to a fan, so they could rap. The crowd ad-libbed the entire time, reverting back to clapping now as well. Eventually, Mod Sun facetimed his girlfriend Bella Thorne, a theme on his tour.
“Has anyone in this room been called crazy before,” Mod Sun said. “I’m proud to be called crazy. Thank you so much for coming tonight, Pittsburgh.”
Before officially ending his set, Mod Sun asked the crowd if we could make a moment we wouldn’t forget and called Sebastian to the stage who proposed to his girlfriend (she said yes).
“This is the greatest night we know,” Mod Sun said at the end of his set. “Positivity will overcome anything in this world.”
All in all, a Mod Sun show is all about embracing who you are and not caring what other people think (Something I personally struggled with before the show, but not anymore). Interestingly enough to me, I noticed as Mod Sun performed his last song that the crowd was at its strongest.
As I got ready for my interview at the end of the show, I realized the girl next to me, who had been raging all night, was covered in sweat. Parents, the majority of which stood in the back and on the side as if they were chaperoning a high school dance greeted their kids as the lights came on, and the show was over at approximately 9:15P.M..