December 05, 2008


I'm in a bar on the west bank in Minneapolis. It really wants to be a dive bar, but nobody appears to have told the chef or the bar manager. So I've just had an excellent dinner and a pint of Surly Furious.

I'm there to see a show. More accurately, I'm there to hang out with my husband as he takes pictures at the show.

See, the headliner is MC Frontalot, the recognized father of nerdcore rap, and I'm just not all that into nerdcore. It falls into the category of things that make me happy because they exist but which I don't personally need to deal with. It's funny stuff, but too much of it is deliberately awkward. Perfectly in character, but not what I'm looking for in music.

Let's just say that my hopes for the show aren't high.

I feel bad for the local opening act. We missed them while eating, and there are only about a dozen people in the stage area when we get there. They played to no one.

Then Schaffer the Darklord (STD) comes out in a long black hooded cloak with his black box, and things start to get interesting. He dumps the cloak after the first song and raps in a purple shirt and black suit. Oh, he's a geek all right, but he's also been a musician longer than nerdcore has been considered a genre. And it shows.

Highlights of STD's set are "Nerd Lust" and "Night of the Living Christ."

Undead messiah with the entire world
Turning into zombies like him
You'll die for him because he died for you

We take a break before the Front comes on. I chat a little with Schaffer (once he peels off a drunken fangirl), and pick up both his albums.

Then the lights go down again. Time for the main act.

Frontalot starts by gently coaxing all the geeks in the audience onto the dance floor and up next to the stage. The audience has grown by this point, but it's still nothing like crowded. Then he announces that this will be an all-request show.

This is when things get truly surreal. Half the audience raises their hands. I kid you not. They raise their hands. At a rap show. This is when I know I am not a TrueGeek(tm).

(MC Chris, not Frontalot, but you get the idea.)

To top it off, once people are called on and make their request, they have to roll for it. D20. Now, it works out that everyone who requests a song that had been rehearsed gets to hear what they want, but they still have to roll.

It also somehow works out that most of the songs from the new album get requested and played. This is a very good thing, because the new album is much more up my alley. Less awkwardness, more music. Still geeky as hell, but danceable. Need I mention that I am the only person demonstrating any proficiency at dancing? (No, pogoing does not count.)

"Bizarro Genius Baby" is the first single off the album. Other gems are "Secrets From the Future," about how laughable future generations will find current encryption, and "Origin of the Species," which is saved from Poedom by two words. Needless to say, we pick up another album.

All in all, it's a good night, much better than expected. I'm still not gung-ho into Nerdcore, but when someone posts some, I now give it a good, solid listen. The stuff is getting much better.

Of course, I still haven't heard anyone top the original master of the genre.

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