|Madhatter / MC Wreckshin / Superpowerless / B-Type / MC Milk-Plus / Too Many T's|
I'll admit I was nervous about how the gig would be received, this comes across in the pre-gig interviews coming up. The new venue is a distinctly working class boozer in an unglamorous part of south London. The Horse & Groom is a pub I've been to before and a place where I've encountered some less than desirable characters. How would the rough and ready of London take to a bunch of nerds?
'Bunch of nerds' isn't an unfair description of the crowd either. No more than thirty made up the audience at its strongest including those in attendance from the co-hosting Pirate Party UK in a venue advertised as holding two hundred.
The event came about as a result of Scrub Club Record's figure head, Madhatter McGinnis, making the trip across the pond as a guest of the Pirate Party. He was scheduled to speak at their conference the following day, something I can see him excelling at. I'd never met McGinnis before, not surprising considering this is the first time he's left the United States, but he's engaging and exudes a mix of confidence and joviality.
Accompanying him to London from the States is MC Wreckshin, two eyes peer from beneath a mass of hair and beard. He's softly spoken. Coming from closer to home, but still travelling a good proportion of the length of the country are MC Superpowerless and B-Type, making their way down from Sunderland and Liverpool respectively. Completing the nerdcore line-up is MC Milk-Plus. He lives fairly locally but will be rapping on stage for the first time this evening.
I caught up with MC Superpowerless, MC Milk-Plus, B-Type and some travelling fans before the show:
MC Wreckshin would be the first to take to the stage, he took a couple of minutes to chat before heading out:
Things were running late. The gig had always been advertised as starting at 9pm, something that must have changed along with the venue as the Pirate Party guys gently urged for a more prompt start to the show. The regular punters eyed proceedings with caution and a touch of disdain as they gathered around large screens silently showing European football and the pool tables tucked away in the far corner of the pub. A definite divide was apparent.
If you haven't checked out MC Wreckshin's recent album, Dubstep Is Magic, then you really should. It's brash, loud and energetic. I expected Wreckshin to carry traits of a similar nature, but he's just not that guy. He's calm, and reserved off stage but exudes a quiet confidence whilst performing. He opens with, Worms Armageddon, a tribute to the video game, taken from Dubstep Is Magic. The tension in the pub eased, those here for the show relax into the performance. The locals draw gradually closer, intrigued by this high energy music being injected into their, presumably, usually stagnant environment.
By the time he'd finished, Show Me How To Blow Dudes, there was almost unanimous applause. Wreckshin killed it and the sceptical locals were getting on board, though probably not paying too much attention to the lyrics.
MC Wreckshin arrived in England several days before this London show, affording him the time to plan the performances he shared with MC Superpowerless and B-Type. In fact they had played a show in Sunderland the previous night.
Rehearsal time wasn't something Milk-Plus had an abundance of and as a result he performed only one track. But considering the time constraints, and that this would be the first time he ever rapped on stage you could be forgiven for thinking that these guys performed, French Toast Tango, every night. Milk-Plus delivered his lyrics with the same precision and inflection that you'll hear if you listen to the track on Torrentz last album, The Big Kahuna. It's worth explaining that the London emcee/producer is no stranger to the stage. With his former indie band he spent a significant number of years gigging.
Madhatter doesn't launch straight into his set. The audience wait expectantly for the show to start. Images are projected onto a screen at the rear of the stage and audio samples play as an obvious introduction to proceedings. 'Hatter however is mingling with the crowd. His actions are deliberate and emphasised. He's playing up the fact that all eyes are on him, ears waiting for the high energy raps he's known for, he continues as if oblivious to the fact that anticipation is building, and then, as the smallest murmurs of restlessness begin to set in... he lets rip.
You'll find little finesse in Madhatter's music and performance, his lyrics aren't intricate. Compare him, perhaps, to a boxer. He takes on the crowd, gets in their face, spitting his lyrics like punches, pounding the audience at all times. Despite his aggressive demeanour, his fans never feel intimidated. Between each song he's smiling, appreciative and engaging before launching into another onslaught. Seemingly increasing the energy one more level with each progressive track. He plays his role in a way similar to that of the front man of a metal band. He's in the crowd, around the crown, eye to eye, on the floor, bouncing, urging everyone to get involved. He means get involved with the show, not try to be the show. One local overstepped the mark Ill advisedly seizing control of a second mic during an instrumental pause in a song, this guy clearly fancies himself as an emcee... credit where credit's due, he had the attitude, the fearlessness to stand in front of a crowd and... make a complete tit of himself. 'Hatter entertained the intruder momentarily until bored and then literally blew the guy from the stage, bellowing his lyrics an inch from his face.
The audience size was at its most dense for Madhatter's set. His fans, it seems, are loyal, two of which were willing to make the trip from Belgium and Holland respectively to attend tonight's event.
Too Many T's
Suffering, perhaps, from following Madhatter came a surprise addition to the line-up, Too Many T's.
I say a surprise because no one knew they were playing until minutes before the show began and one of the Pirate Party crew happened to mention it.
I say suffered because after Madhatter's blistering performance half the audience exited the building to get air or smoke cigarettes. This is a shame, because if they'd stuck around they would have witnessed one of the highlights of the evening.
This South London duo may not fit the nerdy label, but their live act blends hip-hop and humour seamlessly. They bounce off each other with natural and almost psychic instinct, their delivery is tight. I'm ashamed I'd not heard of them before since we share the same streets day in day out. This will change. Expect to hear more about Too Many T's very soon.
In the same way that MC Wreckshin is easy going, MC Superpowerless is mild and meekly spoken. Yet he contorts and twists his way around stage without inhibition, his chosen instruments are modified GameBoys which he fingers frantically as if reaching a personal best at Tetris, but without looking.
Alongside him tonight is B-Type, the pair perform as Superpowerless, pumping out chiptunes with pop sensibilities, the lyrics are basic, at times repetitive and usually down right silly. None of that matters, if you're out for a good time and you're not up your own arse you'll have an awesome experience. Wreckshin joins them on stage for a superb rendition of, The IT Crowd. If you haven't heard this, check YouTube for the video.
What B-Type lacks in physical stature he more than makes up for in energy and enthusiasm. Not many would attempt a crowd surf with an audience made up of so little in number, pah! Details. His abrasive appearance camouflages an affable and cheeky personality.
On-stage he's lively, flinging himself around with cocksure confidence and a degree of attitude. As the evening draws to a close B-Type maintains the energy levels to the end.
It's with some regret I missed out on much of the final set. Throughout the evening Madhatter had always been too busy to get a reaction from. Talking to his Pirate Party hosts, selling and signing Scrub Club merchandise, speaking with fans as well as guesting and engaging with all the other acts before and after his own part of the show. He works hard at these gigs making himself available to everyone. He made himself available to me as the clock headed towards midnight. Sacrificing the end of the show to conduct one final interview of the evening I headed off to the calmness of the green room to finally get a few minutes with Scrub Club's main man.
Wouldn't it be lovely if there was a video right here of that interview? Of course by this time of the night, my phone (onto which I'd been filming) was too low on battery to record anything further. All is not lost, however. Resorting to my back-up voice recorder I managed to capture Madhatter's feelings and reaction as Steal This Gig drew to a close. That interview will be available to hear soon on an all new podcast via nerdcorenow.com brought to you by The Unheard Nerd. Keep an eye out for that.
Was Steal This Gig a success? As a fund raiser for the Pirate Party UK? not at all. Somewhere along the way the planning went seriously wrong and, harsh as it may sound, if they struggle to organise a gig how do they intend to operate a successful political party? The guys involved in tonight's event do not make up the whole party, of course. As a Nerdcore Hip-Hop show? Yes, yes and yes! Regardless of how many people turned up, every single performer gave it their all on stage in a venue that was far from ideal. Give these guys a room with fifty or a hundred people to perform to and the place would be rocking all night long. Let's hope this happens.
Find out more about the Pirate Party UK, check out Scrub Club Records for Madhatter, MC Wreckshin and MC Milk-Plus and check out Superpowerless and B-Type.
|Gallery & Live Footage|