Tuesday, March 20, 2007

NERD! ROCK!

“Do, or do not. There is no ‘try.'” Such were the words of Master Yoda.

So when I say that I tried to make it to the Pacific Northwest to witness the opening shots of the Mediocre Tour and the triumphant release of the Goondocks' International Metamorphosis, understand that such plans did not come to fruition. I simply did not do .

Fortunately for me, my trusted associate and all-around bro Brüx has long since escaped our common southern purgatory to the cool and drizzly climes of Seattle, putting him a literal stone's-throw away from the venue in question. As he was already planning to attend last Saturday's massive St. Patrick's Day gig, I summarily deputized him as an A-fficial Hipster, please! correspondent.

His three-fold mission was simple: attend, document, and enjoy.

But, always being the type of cat to go above and beyond, Brüx took it a step further; he spread the nerd love.

What follows is one man's journey into the heart of the nerdcore homeland.

Special thanks go out to Router, Beefy, Doc, and the Goondocks guys for taking some time to mug for the camera. And of course extra-special, super kung-fu monkey thanks to Brüx and company for taking the time to rep Hipster, please! in my stead. Y'alls is the greatest!

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Tommy's Nightclub has a rep on The Ave as sort of a frat/sports bar where the larger of the human species come out and watch the even larger of the species (in full contact sport) attempt to injure each other for mating rights. To host a Nerdcore fest such as this is, no doubt, a special occasion: one producing anxiety in the audience as they wonder if they will soon enter the mutant realization of that prophetic David Allen Coe song.

Not to worry. Nerdcore brightens the universe; streets are cleaned in its presence, and birds alight on your shoulder as a stray Baddd Spellah beat enters your head.

We arrived WAY early in order to snag interviews with the following:

Beefy
Nerd cred: General encompassing nerd knowledge, D&D player.

MC Route
Nerd cred: She builds robots!

Doctor Popular
Nerd cred: Pro-yo-yoer, makes beats and comics

The Goondocks
Nerd cred: Worked tech support jobs, cleaned many an IE browser cache.

Video:





Our impressions:

We were impressed. We went to be impressed, and expectations were exceeded a hundred-fold. Nothing screams NERD! ROCK! more than when the device producing your backing tracks is one iPod nano! (color: cold-as-ice blue, location: on top of someone else's bass amp) It's almost too simple: load up your playlist, plug into the PA, and make some Nerdcore converts on the spot.

The Mediocre crew kicked it into high gear first off with "The Sound" which saw Doc Pop and Beefy trading verses as Router got her boogie on. They all joined in on the choruses, and then it was on. On! I was thrilled and impressed that they traded songs and performed the whole set as a crew, and not as individual artists "doing their own thang," as it were. There was obviously a lot of give-and-take between frequent collaborators Pop and Beefy that was not quite so prevalent when Router took the lead, but overall they were surprisingly tight.

The set was packed and there was hardly any down-time. What minor lulls appeared were easily filled as Router dispensed little nuggets of back-story concerning some of her songs: riffs about the Wired article that left out female nerdcore artists and her account of becoming famous on Boing Boing for her new tattoo.

My initial thoughts were thus: this Nerdcore thing is for real. Seattle is notorious (in my experience) for being the home of indie-stand-and-stare kings/queens even when the music is bumpin', but not tonight. As you can see from the video, I had trouble filming while not busting my trade mark moves all over the dance floor. So eventually I put my camera away and boogied like it was graduation day.

Beefy comes across as whip smart, and from talking to him I can tell you he is (and will be) the heart of Nerdcore. He's super excited about the promise of the 'core and his strengths are as follows: his perfectly clear voice with two handfuls of style, his impeccable flow, and wit for days.

Doc Pop, while not having the flow of Beefy, slings lines like a Thai fisherman at low tide - the man just lays down science. His beats incorporated some classic soul tracks that really got the crowd on its feet.

MC Router, whose verbal velocity may only be a fraction of the gents on the tour, punctuates each line with her intense delivery. Her voice - husky and exhibiting seasoned stage presence - when flowing is like a caged animal. It makes each song a thrilling event. Not as much intensity as, say, Cobain at the end of "In the Pines," but definitely in the same neighborhood. Even more so when she starts doing the robot! The robot was classic. That she builds robots only spices the dish to a fragrant scrumptiousness of robot stew. Or cyborg harrira, perhaps?

Sadly, due to time constraints the Mediocre Tour set needed to be cut short. Still, much dancing was had and laughter laughed - and yes - the brows of the audience were as sweaty and flushed as those on stage. It was, in a word, fantastic.

I was pleased to make the acquaintance of Jake, Chas, and Jeremy from The Goondocks. Having never heard their music, I was hopeful. As we talked pre-show, I learned that the trumpet player, Jake, edits a great music magazine in Seattle. They let me know in the interview that the tentacle theme on the CD cover paid homage to a deleted scene in The Goonies, and adrenaline gave a boost to my heart-rate as I danced a little jig of anticipation.

Friends, the Goondocks are five minutes from blowing up so large that they will affect the rotation of this dank and glorious mud ball we call Earth. They Brought It. They Brought It, and then they flung it all over that sports bar... every member of the audience was covered in - not rock, mind you - hip hop glory. We were anointed. They opened with a quick and up-tempo rendition of "Jump Around" and the crowd was eating out of their hand within seconds. Bass, Drums, Keys, Trumpet, and 2 MC's and that place turned into a Tesla coil of excitement. And it's didn't stop. The bass just kept pounding, and the horn(s) filled us with angular, minor key bad-assery till we could take it no more.

[special nerd aside: The Goondock's horn "section" is one guy. One smart guy who plays his trumpet through a Digitech harmony pedal so as to play the chords a normal horn section would. NERD! ROCK!]

The Goondocks left too soon, but any more would have drained us all of the vital essences we needed to navigate the treacherous avenues to our slumber. But know this: The Goondocks walked off that stage champions and knowing full well that they filled the hearts of their audience with the blue flame of unexpected delight.

Friends, this is where my recounting falters. I didn't get to chat with Nerdcore Superstars Optimus Rhyme. I had dancing to accomplish, but I looked forward to their set nonetheless. And I was not let down. MUCH tighter in person than the few tracks I've heard - I give OR MAD props for being a Hip-Hop act with A) No Turntable, B) No Keyboard and, C) No Sampler. They are a strict Drums, Bass, Guitar, Vocals outfit - the same as your "Regular Indie-Rock Band" (REM, Portastatic, what-have-you). And friends, the funk and groove they dispense to their audience come generously and with deep love. That bass player they've got [Stumblebee] is quite something else: aggressive tone, tons of skill, and, above all, a deep sense of how to get bodies moving in sync. I could not take my eyes off him. Though not overly familiar with the songs and the MC's [Wheelie Cyberman] delivery, I can say that he's much more stylistically akin to Big Boi , than, say, Kurtis Blow. I had zero comprehension of the content, but that didn't stop the crush of fans that appeared from packing firmly around the stage, as had not otherwise occurred that night. Personally, I really appreciated the Misfits-like choruses of WHOOAAA and such so everyone could join in on the fun.

Alas, every kick drum at this point seemed to rocket right through me in a not-pleasant fashion, and we had to bow out before OR were finished. Warm, genuine, and generous goodbyes were shared and the fact that I had really been a part of something dawned on me.

We stepped out into the cool, damp, and thrilling Seattle night, the air clear and fresh with new possibilities, grabbed the first cab to Ballard, and spent the entire ride reliving the high points of the night.

Thanks to Z, for letting me name-drop, and thanks to Beefy, Router, Doc Pop, Chas, Jeremy, Jake, and all the rest for one of my favorite nights in Seattle thus far.

Nerdcore 4 Lif3!!

12 comments:

Router said...

thanks for the awesome write up brux and thanks for comin to the show.

it was totally a rad night.


and i totally have a crushon jeremy from the goondocks.

okay off to chico we go!

Brüx said...

Thanks Router!

It was dope, and my pleasure.

Tear it up in Chico!

Doc Pop said...

Brux was up front dancin' all night.

I don't know if sounding like a Thai fisherman is a good thing, but I never really thought of Thai fisherman as dropping science... I'll look into that.

Thanks for the great vid and nice write up.

Z. said...

Thai fisherman drop far more science than, say, Laotian fisherman. They are, I am told, the most scientifically-minded of all southeast Asian fishermen.

I’m just sayin’.

ChurchHatesTucker said...

Thanks, Brux. I needed that.

("The Barbara Walters of Nerdcore" LOL)

Z. said...

Beefy just said that because I co-hosted The View for a couple of Seasons. I also tend to make people cry during interviews. Baddd Spellah? He wept like a pilgrim widow.

CMEZ said...

Yo all!!! Many thanks go to Hipster Please, The Mediocre Tour 2007 (Beefy, MC Router, Doctor Popular) and Optimus Rhyme for being a part of our first CD release. Thanks for the write-up and the support! We had a blast!!!!

CMEZ of The Goondocks
(www.goondocksmusic.com)

Z. said...

My only regret is that I wasn’t there to get incredibly drunk… I mean, that I wasn’t there to enjoy the show first-hand, CMEZ.

Antisocial said...

oh heck yeah! footage!

Steffen said...

The video quaility there was a little dark, but other than that, I almost got popcorn ready for it since I was so geeked. You guys have a good chemistry. You should make the Mediocre tour an annual event!

Good job guys, can't wait to see you in person.

Denika said...

W00t! Now you've got me all excited for the Whisky A Go Go show. If only my damn tickets would arrive. F'n AZ mail sux.

Z. I hope to making many a photo with my (hopefully) sweet new digi cam at the LA show. If I can get the chance to approach the Tremendous Trio™ maybe I will get some footage myself. I will, of course, share the bounty. ;)

Z. said...

Footage indeed, Soc!

Yeah, Steffo, bars ain’t got the best lighting, that’s for damn sure. I agree that a Doc/Router/Beefy tour should be a regular thing. They belong together.

Thanks, Denika! Anything you’d care to share with the class would be most appreciated. :D