Being the most recent signees to J. Cole’s Dreamville Records, rising duo EarthGang has had eyes on them since their first major-label debut album Mirrorland. Accordingly so, the duo embarked on their promotional “Welcome to Mirrorland” Tour on January 16, 2020. On February 9, EarthGang brought this tour to Toronto – performing in front of a sold-out crowd at The Opera House.
Prior to going in-depth on EarthGang’s set, it is important to note the contribution of their tour DJ; DJ Dark Knight. DJ sets are often seen as buffer times or a means of idling prior to the headliners coming on. However, DJ Dark Knight did a remarkable job at making his stage time memorable. His mix included a combination of hits and lesser-known songs which were all streamlined to sound like one continuous track. Essentially, his roughly 20 minutes prior to EarthGang’s appearance sounded like one seamless compilation, rather than a sequence of songs. This interestingly made the wait time for EarthGang feel more fun and relaxed rather than tedious and mundane.
Almost immediately after the last song of Dark Knight’s mix, deafening screams from Johnny Venus and Doctur Dot – the two members of EarthGang – echoed across the room. That very moment set the precedent for the entire night. EarthGang is not a musical group shrouded in mystery, ominous, or subtle about anything. They were confident, loud, and wanted to capture as much attention as possible. This is definitely reflected through their eccentric funk-infused hip-hop songs that exert energy from the get-go.
All of this created a carefree atmosphere of amusement. Everyone seemed to be on the same page and in sync with EarthGang’s energy. There was something almost therapeutic of hearing Venus and Dot repetitively tell the audience they were proud of them through reciting verses from their hit song Proud of U. Other notable moments included their songs performed from their label’s collaborative album Revenge of the Dreamers III. Songs such as Swivel, Down Bad and Wells Fargo shook the audience. They were, unfortunately, missing the notable verses from labelmate J.I.D. While being slightly unreasonable to expect a surprise appearance from J.I.D, his presence would have made those songs that much better. In the midst of EarthGang’s performance, however, it never felt as if there was one focal point on an individual member. Rather than having either Venus or Dot feeling like a frontman, both individuals made their presence integral to the show. In other words, it was quite clear that EarthGang was strongest as EarthGang – rather than as individual acts. This is quite remarkable and refreshing as it is very common in hip-hop to see duos or groups where one member clearly receives the majority of the spotlight.
It was also very humbling to see the character of EarthGang through the intermissions between their songs. They utilized every opportunity to check in with and talk to the audience. For instance, they recognized an individual named Sebastian in the crowd whom they just met at the meet & greet prior to the show. They asked the entire audience to warmly welcome Sebastian which they obviously did. While being a beautiful moment for the individual himself, its significance extended unto the entire audience by adding a ‘human’ element to the duo. In that moment, EarthGang proved that they genuinely cared about their fans which made everyone feel more welcome.
The production value of the show was very well thought out. The lights were in-sync with the sounds all the way from DJ Dark Knight’s mix to the end of EarthGang’s set. This – in conjunction with the mirrors placed all around the stage – created this euphoric and dreamlike visual presence which greatly resembled the Mirrorland album cover.
The show was a unique and great experience. On top of further promoting their Mirrorland album – which is a strong body of work – EarthGang was able to show what J. Cole saw in them and why they deserved a placement on Dreamville Records. Being signed to arguably one of the biggest rappers in the world is no easy feat and definitely limited to those who have adequate talent. It will be interesting to see what comes next in EarthGang’s career.