Monday, September 19, 2011

Live Review: MC Chris at the Waiting Room

I'm a music guy, but I'm also a big nerd, so when the two worlds collide in nerdcore hip-hop, I'm pretty excited. (For the record, I'm not one of those people that try to apply the "nerd" badge in an effort to be cool. My giant comic book and action figure collections speak to my geek cred, if there is such as thing.)

Probably the biggest nerdcore artist is MC Chris. His songs play in Honda commercials and whenever Blink-182 or Kevin Smith take the stage. And it's not just that he raps about Star Wars and Batman, it's that he's good at it.

So, I finally took the plunge and got to see him at the Waiting Room on Sunday, where he's performed a bunch before, but I've always missed it.

Not this time. I unfortunately missed the openers (I've heard good things about both MC Lars and Adam Warrock), but made it just before MC Chris took the stage.

For starters, it was a good show, though pretty short (an apt way to describe both MC Chris and his songs as well).

He kicked things off with "I Like Candy" and then tried three separate times to do "Nerd Cave" from his latest album, but he couldn't quite keep up with the backing track. So, to get it right, he started the entire set over, and from there was flawless.

He queued up songs from an iTunes window on a laptop and launched into excellent rhymes in songs such as "Hoodie Ninja," "Motorbike," "Nrrrd Grrrl," "Pizza But" and his "Star Wars" anthem, "Fett's Vette."

My personal favorite was "OMC," in which he rapped over a combo of the "Back To The Future" theme, "Power Of Love" and "Axel F."

A couple times during the show, I thought MC Chris came off as kind of a jerk to his fans. He made one kid who was using his phone during the first song go to the back of the crowd. Later, he asked another fan not to sing along so loudly. To be fair, it's his show and you have to have a little respect for him vocalizing frustration with obnoxious fans, but it certainly takes balls to tell a fan exactly how they can or cannot enjoy themselves at your concert especially when those people paid $13 to see you perform.

Still, the audience respected and adored him. He had total control as the crowd calpped, waved and sang along with whatever he asked. He also silenced the backing track during one song and the crowd shouted back every word.

A big part of is love by fans is evidenced by how he stays after every show - including Sunday's - and stands by the merch booth to talk to every last fan. Very few artists (Ben Kweller and Matt & Kim are only ones that come to mind) do that, but it's an excellent way to build an audience and I love when artists do that.

Between his songs, he also cracked a lot of jokes about video games, obscure movies and all the stuff that nerds love. He's genuinely hilarious and I was laughing hard, which made me wonder why there's not a group of stand-ups that riff on pop culture and nerd stuff. They'd sure have my support, but I've never heard of any. (Of course, feel free to tell me I'm wrong and direct me to someone to check out.)

In the end, it was a perfectly excellent hybrid of geekiness (especially with the costume contest mid-show) and music that I'd love to see replicated more often.

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