Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Mr. Effing Softee

Apparently, there's an ice cream truck distributor less than a block from my office. In the winter, I was blissfully unaware of this fact. Now that it's summer (sorta), and hotter than a crotch, we keep all the windows open. And Mr. Effing. Softee. plays all day long. That tinkling loop of song (it's not even a song! tantalizingly close to 'Bicycle Built for Two,' but not quite) is drilling itself into my brain. I wake up singing it. I leave work singing it. I imagine that if I were ever to become a serial killer, this is the tune I'd be singing as I cheerfully, efficiently offed my victims.

The madness has got to stop. Or, we've got to get an air conditioner.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Autobots, Assemble!

Another day, another concert. Went to see the first performance from Ben's new band, tentatively called the Autobots, and they ROCKED! They rocked the house down!

No, seriously. Large sections of the basement ceiling were coming loose and crashing to the ground. At least one of these chunks fell onto my head, and I started laughing really hard. My boyfriend rocked a house into pieces. My life is awesome.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Busdriver + Dizzee Rascal + El-P at First Unitarian

It's been a long time since I've seen live music. I didn't realize how much I missed it.

Busdriver got this party started. I'd never heard (of) him before, but was pleasantly surprised. His flow sampled a bunch of styles and cadences, which was occasionally refreshing. Every song different from the last, and energy stayed high. Other times, I wished he'd developed a tighter, more consistent style. Some songs sounded derivative, disappointing for such an innovative rapper. When Busdriver shined was when he did his own thing, delivering lyrics in staccato-scat rapid fire, sounding more like gun claps than words. Busdriver also does his own DJing, to which I can only give mad respect. Omnivorous beats, adventurous and sometimes creepy--carnival stuff and bubblegum twisted to sound insidiously threatening.

Then! Surprise guests Kidz in the Hall!! Well, they were a surprise to me. I've seen them live once before, opening for GZA at the Troc. It was a disappointing show, not due to them, but to the audience. A bunch of drugged-out wannabe thugs impatient for the Wu. They didn't even give Kidz a chance to win them over. Their loss. This group is fresh, and I don't just say that cuz I'm from the Chi.

They came out rocking a prep-to-death look, 2 musicians, 1 MC, and tore it up for 5 - 6 songs. Delivered a couple old hits and a few new. Most notable for me was their last, 'Driving Down the Block'. A little dirtier and cockier than previous stuff, and Double-O even got to rap! As usual, here's Kidz in the Hall treating traditional hip-hop themes in clever ways, managing to make a song about cruising in your car sound smarter and sharper than most. Naledge ended the set with a brief speech about supporting up-and-coming artists, not giant pop stars, and doing that by buying albums from people you respect. God, Na, I want to support you guys, but how can I do that when I already shelled out all my dough for my ticket?

Then Aaron LaCrate comes out, another surprise for me. He's a gutter DJ from Bodymore who came to my college a couple years ago. I had a good time dancing to his stuff back then, but a half-empty freezing room at Swarthmore was not his place to shine. This man has worked with Spank Rock, Amanda Blank and Diplo, for crying out loud! He gets up and starts playing 'Know How' with Young MC, which I hadn't realized was his stuff, then Spank Rock's 'Blow.' Two awesome songs. After seeing Kidz and knowing their work (which many in the crowd seemed unfamiliar with), recognizing Aaron and the songs he was spinning made me feel super up on the Philly hip-hop scene. Finally, reading podunk Philly music blogs pays off! Sweet!

Finally (for me) Dizzee Rascal. First off, I'd like to thank the anonymous dude at US Immigrations who processed his visa, cuz you just made my week. Dizzee delivered a tight, driving show. His flow was non-stop and professional as on his albums. He never got out of breath despite constant dancing (I love a rapper who can groove to his own shit), and almost non-existent pauses between songs. He kept the energy high, telling us that hip-hop should be fun. Word. Up. Dizzee talked to people in the audience, organized shout-offs and even created a circle in the crowd for people to break-dance. Few stepped up to the plate, but it was great to watch a rapper confident and swagger as they come still creating space for the crowd to shine. Not acting like he's on TV, but making sure we recognize the live nature of the experience, making sure we stay in the moment.

That doesn't mean Dizzee ignored his celebrity status: at one point, he had the whole crowd chanting his name. I can only imagine that to be the best feeling in the world. He set up a good mix of old and new material, only touching on 2 - 3 songs from 'Boy in da Corner.' Of course people went crazy for 'Jus a Rascal' and 'Fix Up.' But they were equally enthusiastic for newer stuff, including 'Flex,' his encore song, a booty-shaker for the ladies. Have to admit, when this song came on I had an (almost) uncontrollable urge to get on stage. I held back. Unfortunately.

After that, I left. Call me old, but I just couldn't stand around any more. Achy back and all that. Plus, I wasn't too worried about missing El-P. I don't know any of his stuff, but more importantly, I always find myself wishing he were Aesop. I know that's not fair, but I'd rather rock to Ian than to pretty much anyone else on his label.