Friday, December 09, 2011

Queen City Rules

It's the holiday season, and that means that a number of festive projects over at my payin' gig have been eating into my writing time. (Speaking of, you can still enter today – Friday the 9th – to win one of 5 DSi XL/Kirby Mass Attack bundles, and on Monday we kick off our massive 12 Days of Geekmas giveaway. Get one that, son!)

Basically this means I've been neglecting the old Hipster, please! over the past few days, and I apologize.

It's been particularly trying for me because, in addition to a dozen or so album reviews sitting half-finished in my Dropbox, there's something I desperately want to talk about. That thing is last weekend's southeastern nerdcore mini-tour. I've already waxed poetic about the personal significance of these shows, and I'll go on record as saying that Saturday's gig at the World Famous Milestone in Charlotte was the musical highlight of my year.

Adam WarRock said something to me at that show that was so clear and accurate that it still rings in my ears. Concerning the Milestone, an esteemed punk club and venerated southern dive bar, he noted that it's the one venue that is always willing to give you a great show, providing you as a performer put in the work to meet it halfway.

All these guys held up their end of the bargain, and they all reaped the rewards.

The night started off… well, technically the night started off with everyone eating dinner at Pinky's, but I'll fast-forward through that part for your convenience. The show started with special guest Keysa Soulsay, a glorious staple of the nebulous and rather stylistically fragmented Queen City hip-hop scene. His sets are always interesting affairs, as his calculated flow and tightly timed setlist contrast sharply with his conversational delivery and the effortlessly intellectual slant of his lyrical content.

Illbotz were up next, and if you managed to catch them at this summer's Nerdapalooza then you already know their performance plays out kind of like a house party on the short bus. This was no exception, and if anything I had a hard time believing the boys weren't on their own home turf. The crowd loved them, and, with a set peppered with all my favorites from Ringtones for Rotary Phones and Pudding is Delicious (including one very special request), they owned that shit.

It's like Where's Waldo? up in here.
Dual Core's int eighty – the artist that I've known the longest and, likely as a direct result, have seen play live most often – started his performance with preferred opener "Invaders Must Die." He too hit all the fan favorites from "My GF Is..." and "Hostage Down" to "Natural 20s," but for me an int eighty show is always about the surprises. His cypher, featuring Keysa and Tribe One, was particularly satisfying, as was the dubstep-y "All Fall Down" which included, if I'm not mistaken, a dash of Dual Core classic "Orbit." The most remarkable thing about eighty, though, was his boundless energy. Always an on-stage dynamo, the guy manages to not only push that supernatural vigor through his own set, but kept it going for the entire 3 hour gig!

Adam WarRock and Tribe One have only recently wrapped up mc chris's massive Race Wars tour – and Adam himself has continued living that musical migrant lifestyle by doing a string of one-off city shows ever since – but neither of them showed any signs of road wear. Both these cats are still obviously hungry, and a set packed with fresh new material from WarRock's "616" to Tribe's divine "Single Player" managed to stand out even alongside all these other amazing acts. Tribe's comfort level on the stage mirrors his offstage approachability, and the lyrical aggression evident in an Adam WarRock performance is at last bleeding over into his new studio cuts. Add to this expert implementation of guest stars in the form of eighty on "Nerd Corps" and kHill on a pair from the epic Browncoats Mixtape, and you begin to understand the power of their performance.

Closing out the night were hometown heroes The ThoughtCriminals. I've been following these guys for going on two years now, and the thing that strikes me about the 'Criminals is how they're continually refining their craft. The band has downsized, it's gotten leaner, but the sound itself seems bigger and more cohesive. This was on full display last Saturday. On everything from fresh new joints like "Walking in the Wasteland" – the latest from Sulfur that showcases his lyrical dark side, a character I've come to call Dark Sean – to sing-along geek-outs like "Turtle Power," it was an amazing showing. By the time the guys got to the star-studded second half of the set featuring rager "Return of the Antagonist," new school nerd anthem "ONLYFAM" and the always astounding "Earthbound," the floor was pretty much in chaos.

If you missed this spectacle, then I feel bad for you. There was no point in the night that I wished to be anywhere else but at that show with those people, and as crazy as shit got as the show progressed it was always a very warm, welcoming and supportive environment. If you missed it, that just sucks.

But take heart; I actually managed to bootleg the whole thing, save the first few seconds of Soulsay's very first verse. If the guys are cool with it, and if I can find time to properly tag and edit this monster, maybe I'll make it available to those who'd like to check it out. In the meantime, here's just a sample of the evening's festivities.

It's "Illbotz Rock the Spot and Go Crazy," and it, like the show itself, lives up to the name.