Monday, November 08, 2004

in a sweatsuit, sweating, setting it off

Monday, November 1: Grand Buffet with Bow N' Arrow, Height, Slaves of Spanky, and Grandpa at The Scherzo

I almost decided to sleep through this show. Seriously. It was dark out, I was grumpy, and I was ready for bed. But, eventually making the link between "Hey, hip hop makes me feel better when I am cranky" and "Hey, I am cranky, I should go listen to some hip hop," I trudged down to The Scherzo, ready to be impressed. Unfortunately, before being impressed, I had to listen to the "comedic stylings" of Grandpa. I don't mind his rap act, but his stand-up act is one of the worst things I've ever witnessed. I think I have blocked most of it from my memory. Someone didn't tell him that being offensive was not always the same thing as being funny, so you end up listening to a bunch of necrophiliac incest jokes wondering if you will ever be compensated for those precious minutes of your time (hint: no). Comedians should not leave you feeling depressed. This exchange, however, ruled:

GRANDPA: Do you guys know what Pat Mastroianni is doing now?
ME: He's on Degrassi: The Next Generation!
GRANDPA: No, he's not.
ME: YES, HE IS!
GRANDPA: Okay, he is NOW, but . . .

Moral of the story: do not underestimate my knowledge of the career trajectory of Degrassi cast members.

image from heightmusic.com
This was several thousand times too cute not to share.

Following that travesty, a huge dude with a slight lisp who kinda looked like John Mayer on steroids took the stage and busted out some intense rhymes. This was Height. I can't say it was really the kind of stuff I'm into (it was more loping, dark, and heavier than most of the hip hop I listen to, without really engaging me), but man, did he ever give'r, despite the underpopulated audience and the hesitancy of anyone to come up onto the dancefloor. At times, his extremely animated thrashing and dancing turned him into one giant motion blur. You have to have some respect for that. He also sampled The Stooges.

After Height, a little guy who bore a startling resemblance to my hippie ex-housemate screamed mightily into the microphone to kick off a set of bouncy, hyper, feel-good rap. Bow N' Arrow's first song ("Who's The Boss") was so enjoyable that myself and my co-conspirator Alison shuffled our awkward indie rock bodies up to the dancefloor, where we creakily bobbed our heads and shook our asses/watched ourselves. Bow had great energy and an amiable style of delivery that made his performance pretty much impossible not to enjoy. (There's a good article on Bow and Height from the Baltimore City Paper here.)

I had actually never heard Grand Buffet, but Kingston ex-pat The Gurv used to bust out their raps all the time, which made Alison and I curious as to what the real deal was like. In short: AWESOME. Their raps were a combination of astute pop culture references, educated political commentary (unlike, say, the new Beasties album — sorry, Boys, but it's true), and insane wordplay. They sampled the freaking Go-Gos. Their nearly incoherent freestyles ("RAP STYLE! REPTILE! RAP STYLE! REPTILE!") covered such topics as the spectre of communism and "monster garbage," whatever that may be, causing Alison and I to repeatedly collapse onto each other while giggling hysterically. I also found this exchange entertaining:

JACKSON: Before the next song, I just wanted to say something about the election tomorrow . . . has anyone here heard of a band called Nirvana? Raise your hands. (The less lazy members of the audience raise their hands.) Okay, has anyone heard their album Nevermind? (Very few people bother to raise their hands.) Alright, five of you heard Nevermind. That's great. Well, just imagine if Nirvana got dropped from their record label before they got the chance to put it out.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Are you saying that's the same thing as Bush not getting re-elected?
JACKSON: Yeah, it's exactly the same thing.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (outraged yelling)
JACKSON: I'm sorry, we seem to have misunderstood each other. I'm getting the impression that you think I'm being serious . . .
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (more outraged yelling)
JARROD: Jackson, it's okay, I speak Canadian . . . LOOK, WE'RE F***ING JOKING.

Townie rap legends Slaves of Spanky (who apparently blew minds earlier this year at CMW) left us, as usual, "feeling just a little bit dirtier than before [we] saw them" (Alison), but were typically entertaining, and mixed things up with some metal covers and a couple of country tunes.

I had an equally great time after the show, when I got into political and historical discussions with Jackson from GB and Bow, both of whom were exceptionally pleasant gentlemen. (Apparently there's some American bill you can fold into a picture of the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, but I can't even remember how to fold our own $20 bills into a picture of the Queen's butt, so don't ask me how to do it.) In my November 3rd despair, it helped to remember that there are some sane and engaged Americans. All is not lost down there. Godspeed, good sirs.

*Bow N' Arrow, "B N' A In The Sky"