This show caught my attention not just because it featured three acts I'd never seen but also because it gave me the chance to write about hip-hop some more. Then I found out a few hours beforehand that two more out-of-town acts had jumped on the bill (including one group all the way from Tokyo). I had the feeling that this was gonna be a wild night...
I counted about twenty people when I got down to the Red Room. I recognized a few faces, but part of me wondered if everybody else was part of a group. This proved not to be the case, happily. Still, it was too bad more people didn't show up.
First up was Chance Random, a rapper based in Seattle. He got the night off to a good start with some smart rhymes, a clipped but steady flow and some spare, jerky, effective old-school beats. "If you see me on the streets, say what up or say PEACE!" Chance rapped. The crowd flashed up the peace sign in response.
After Chance Random came Triceracorn (half-Triceratops, half-Unicorn), an MC and DJ duo from Seattle. MC Beige's lyrics guided his mellow flow into cosmic and metaphysical realms, but thankfully, he didn't lose his brains or his sense of humor on the path to Nirvana ("The Earth's resources thinner than a cyclist"; "Everybody's one. Tell him what he's won!"). Besides, with DJ IG88's intricate, bubbling, pounding, freshly minted beats backing them up, the words could've gone pretty much wherever they wanted. And speaking of humor, those beats could be pretty funny too: one track appropriated the cantina scene music from Star Wars.
Up next was Kinda Like Us tour headliner the Bad Tenants. From their cheap sunglasses and white headband to their playful banter and goofy stage act, these Seattle boys had their sense of humor in full effect. Musicwise, however, they took care of business: MC's Casey G and Good Matter traded vocal parts like a relay baton, and their forceful flow and sung hooks rode atop some jazzy, slamming beats courtesy of DJ Idlhnds (who did some pretty good rapping himself). The MC's played their own horn parts too. The modest crowd cheered, chanted, bounced and threw their hands in the air.
The Dedicated Servers followed the Bad Tenants and represented Boise very well indeed. Rapid-fire delivery, sharp lyrics, booming beats, fast-stepping moves. "We infect you with just talking," they rapped, following it with a coughed out beat/hook. It didn't take long for the crowd to start coughing with them.
After the Dedicated Servers came Mumford's, a six-piece "Dramatic Party Rock/Psychotic Folk" outfit from Ames, Iowa. If the Red Hot Chili Peppers developed an obsession with Primus and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, they might produce something within shouting distance of this group's music. Their jaunty horns added just the right funny ha-ha and funny what-the? touch to their steady rhythm section, screeching guitar and demented vocals. Their friendly vibe and high-energy stage presence would've won me over even without leader Nate Logsdon's multiple thanks to the other groups and the Red Room (not to mention his announcement that they'd sell their own merch for 50% off to anyone who bought something from the Kinda Like Us guys). Friggin' glorious.
The Depaysement closed out the night. Between these guys and the Akabane Vulgars on Strong Bypass, I'm about to get all teary-eyed with pride over my Japanese heritage. This Tokyo group's mix of poppy tunes, harshly catchy riffs, oddball tempo shifts and deranged vocals reflected lessons learned well from the "Band Interests" listed on their Facebook profile: Iggy and the Stooges, the Ramones, Tom Waits, James Brown, etc. I doubt that anything I write could convey the joyous, manic intensity of this set. Maybe these photos can give you an idea:
Mumford's decided to pitch in on horns at one point.
Don't worry, he was okay. Got back up in another second.
You can find info on these groups on Facebook and elsewhere online. Special thanks to Wes Malvini and the Red Room.