Getting Gnarly for Barkley 

DJ Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo cook up a tasty Fillmore show, and seconds are on the way.

Top 40 music fans rubbed shoulders, danced, and sang "Does that make me craaaaaaazaaaay!" alongside hard-core beatheads and hip-hoppers as international smash hit Gnarls Barkley opened its North American tour at a sold-out Fillmore July 13 and 14.

Fronted by DJ Danger Mouse (aka 28-year-old Brian Burton) and Cee-Lo Green (that'd be Thomas Calloway, 32) the fourteen-piece costumed live show matched the schizophrenic enthusiasm of the duo's self-titled debut album, which came out in May.

How schizophrenic is this pair, you ask? Well, according to Amazon.com, where Gnarls Barkley recently held the No. 3 slot behind the Dixie Chicks and Johnny Cash with more than half a million copies sold, buyers of the duo's CD St. Elsewhere also bought Thom Yorke's The Eraser, the Flaming Lips' At War With the Mystics, and Nelly Furtado's Loose.

The 38-minute, fourteen-song psychedelic-rock blast containing the overplayed single "Crazy" took root several years ago with a Danger Mouse demo Burton handed to then-Goodie Mob rapper Cee-Lo. Both musicians hail from Georgia (Athens and Atlanta respectively), and they shared an affinity for UK trip-hop such as Portishead. Fast-forward to 2005, when the two began trading digital files in an Internet chess game of one-upmanship. The single "Crazy" was recorded in just one take, and the rest of St. Elsewhere ignited all parts of the listening spectrum. Classically trained vocalists dig Cee-Lo's gospel voice. Esoteric-record-store clerks trip on Danger Mouse's samples (he did The Grey Album; find it).

So short is the album that Gnarls Barkley Live started late and finished early. "Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit," the drunk and expectant crowd was chanting by 10:15 p.m. Yet gracious applause greeted the ensemble, whose members were garbed in soda jerk and diner waitress outfits, with Danger Mouse and Cee-Lo in fry-cook hats, chef coats, and checkered pants.

After forty minutes of album material and one cover, the crowd loudly demanded the hit. "You'll get it," Cee-Lo soothed. "What the fuck else we going to do? We only got one album." He then stunned his customers with a minimalist, near-a-cappella version of "Transformer," which showed how much harder fans will have to study the nuances of St. Elsewhere. "It has a steep learning curve," the reclusive Danger Mouse told the New York Times' Chuck Klosterman in June. Cee-Lo didn't mind. As the Mouse silently manned a keyboard and samplers, the vocalist was all smiles and dancing despite gross feedback problems. Gripping the mic to cut the screeeee!, he told the crowd to get hyphy for "Smiley Faces" and found the correlation between the two subgenres of hip-hop.

"Introduce your neighbor to your savior," he said. "You know what that means? It means pass that shit up here. I can smell it. I know y'all are doing drugs. You need drugs to go 'Crazy.'"

No one pelted Cee-Lo with joints, but everyone flipped for "Crazy." Even the old white dudes in polo shirts got it by the end. "We just witnessed history right there," one silver-haired man told his companion as he exited.

History returns September 17 when Gnarls Barkley returns to play the Golden Gate Park Amphitheater. Don't forget your fry hats.

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