Earlier this summer I was lucky enough to score a couple of tickets to see MC Chris during a contest sponsored by Atomic City Comics. This past Saturday, I finally had the pleasure of cashing in those tickets and going to a pretty awesome show. The Ten Years Touring show featuring Mega Ran, MC Lars, and MC Chris came into town and sold out the Milkboy venue downtown at 11th and Chestnut Streets, and while I wasn’t too familiar with the first two acts, there wasn’t a minute of this show that disappointed!
This was my first show at Milkboy and I had no idea what to expect. The narrow second floor with a small bar at one end and a small stage at the other was the perfect, small, intimate club type venue for a show like this. I was there early enough to get right up in front of the stage and plant myself firmly in the middle of this Nerdcore party. Mega Ran, a hometown favorite, was the first to come out and get us warmed up. Skillfully crafting beats from some of your favorite 8 and 16 bit games and even sporting a bad ass, blue, Mega Man arm piece, this hometown hero was a crowd favorite.
With songs covering topics from Final Fantasy to a femme robot crush, “Splash Woman”, his energy was just what you needed to get the night started, with plenty of call backs and audience interaction. He ended his set by asking everyone to take something from their pockets and hold it in the air, warning that the more boring the object, the more boring the rap would be. In a song aptly titled, “Freestyle”, he worked the crowd for their strange objects, even incorporating my flip phone (don’t judge me) along with a variety of strange things that come from geeks pockets when they are at a Nerdcore show.
Next up was MC Lars who was joined by his lovely lady, Ashley, who acted as his hype man, or woman rather. They jumped right in where Mega Ran left off and kept the energy level up high with plenty more audience participation. At one point, he brought Mega Ran up and they properly dealt with the shade thrown from King of The Nerds, Alex Trebek. Trebek recently referred to the people in the Nerdcore scene as “losers” while chatting with a woman on the show and needless to say, the so called “losers” took a bit of offense to it. Mega Ran pulled out his phone and recorded us all giving him a rousing “Fuck You Trebek” in a way that only Philly could do. Moving on, Lars performed hits like “Download This Song” and was even joined on stage by The Dead Milkmen’s Rodney Anonymous and a couple of puppets to round out his set with “Mr. Raven” from The Edgar Allen Poe EP.
After two 30 minute sets that definitely had the sold out crowd up and moving, the man of the hour, MC Chris took the stage and entertained us with not only new and old music alike, but with his own brand of fan boy style rants that any true Star Wars fan or geek would love and appreciate. MC Chris has got to be one of the most talented yet humble and down to earth people you’ve ever met. His stage presence is somewhat unassuming and considering that big crowds and social functions are not the native habitat of traditional freaks and geeks, being in a crowd of people who “get you” can help relieve some of the anxiety and give you the boost you need to come out and rock the mic like only MC Chris can.
The man’s lyrical skills are insane! Honestly, if Barry Allen were to start rapping, it would sound like MC Chris. High pitched voice and a speedy flow that few can match or keep up with combined with his funny, friendly, and humble attitude. The vibe at the show was like being at a local house party with your best friends grabbing the mic and taking it to a whole other level. Songs like “Hoodie Ninja’” “Pizza Butt’” and “The Tussin” had everybody trying to keep up and sing along. I did my best when he ended with “Fett’s Vette” but found his mouth to move even faster live than on the studio track.
Overall, I was totally impressed by the night. I wasn’t really familiar with Mega Ran and MC Lars but they definitely gained a new fan with me. All three of these Nerdcore artists worked together to bring Philly a night filled with fun and lyrical murder. And believe me, these dudes work. They aren’t the kind of rappers that are off in Paris for fashion week, creating designer perfumes, and working hard to turn their name into an international brand. They are hustlers. Small venue tours, DIY albums and videos without big money to back them or market them, and nothing but their talent to propel them forward, these guys are not the usual, watered down, mainstream puppets.
Despite the geeky themes to their songs, they represent the dying art of lyricism in a musical genre rife with empty words and untalented faces meant to sell you something rather than get on a mic in a freestyle battle and kill it. That show reminded me of all the things I used to love about hip hop and rap growing up in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Best believe I’ll be right up front when he comes back in March and if you’re smart, you will be too. Yes friends, on a cold Saturday night in Philly, a geeky, 30 something white guy with the voice of a little boy who has yet to hit puberty took me back to a time when my heart pumped nothing but hip hop love, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Photos by Jamie See, Words by Heather Fox