I will admit at the top that my experience and knowledge of hip hop isn’t that strong. This includes dating back to early nineties hip hop, where the extent is a little of Wu-Tang and having listened to a bunch of Beastie Boys. It was more that I couldn’t relate to it. Enter the Nerdcore genre, where these were lyrics and topics that bring out things I’m familiar with. For an example of how engrained into some of the nerdcore topics I am, my left arm includes two video game tattoos of my first game, Super Mario Bros., and favorite franchise, the Legend of Zelda. With that, there was not any doubt I would be at tonight’s MC Lars and Mega Ran show.
My first music of the night ended up with a local favorite of mine, Bear Ghost. Easily three of the best vocalists concentrated into one awesome rock band. Add in how much they move around, dance around, and Ryan spins around with the guitar to get one hell of a stage performance. I reaffirm the band I relate them to closest is the modern Aquabats. However, Bear Ghost has a more rock ‘n roll sound and no costumes. Tonight’s set included mostly their tracks, plus a great cover of Queen and “Prince Ali” from Aladdin. The smiles on stage from all of them are infectious, and I had one until the end of that set.
Following them was the band Big O, which self-describe as “Punk Rock Hip Hop.” Once you see them, it makes complete sense when trying to figure out the genre you are watching. Myles moves around and sings like a hard core punk rocker, but a lot of the lyrics are rhythmic like hip hop. They played with only the drum kit sitting on stage while Rob, on bass, and Myles were in front. Myles wasn’t the only one moving all over, as Rob was hiding behind people and leaning against the bar playing bass. Given I was unfamiliar with Big O going in, I walk away calling them the best surprise of my night.
Enter the first of our headlining duo and local Phoenix resident, Mega Ran. The name Mega Ran is actually derived from the other name he goes by for his hip hop, Random, and his giant love of Mega Man. How I first came to find him was through the Mega Man raps he did with Capcom’s blessing. The first half of his set was the Random tracks, although these have some video game ties. An example would be the song “Infinite Lives,” using the video game term as a double meaning for living life to its fullest. One of the best things about everything Mega Ran does is he aims to inspire and bring a positive vibe to everyone.
He brought up Teek Hall, who I had missed open up, for a great joint performance of the song “New World Order.” This would be a good spot to bring up that Mega Ran is a huge fan of the WWE, does coverage of it alongside albums around it like “Mat Mania.” Also, this wouldn’t the the last of the guests on stage, as he would be joined by two other friends who names escape me at the moment of writing. The latter half of the set included the Mega Ran side of things, with some Final Fantasy tracks and closing out on “Splash Woman” while dawning his Mega Man head gear and mega buster. There is a reason this man deserves the award the Phoenix New Times gave him for “Best Rapper.” He is an amazing musician and one of the nicest guys I’ve met.
Up after him is another man who could earn an award for how nice he is, MC Lars. I found him through the local Ska Punk Show when it was on the Edge years ago. Local DJ, Craven Moorehead, was occasionally playing his “Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock” on the show. Since that time, I’ve purchased all the EP’s and LP’s he has produced. I got his last album, “The Zombie Dinosaur LP,” by helping him Kickstart it. MC Lars has become my favorite Nerdcore rapper. Whether it is his inclusion of literary works from Shakespeare to Edgar Allen Poe, the songs making statements like “Download this Song,” or the inclusion of musicians I love, such as MC Bat Commander and Piebald samples, I cannot say there is anything I dislike about his music.
On that note, tonight’s set did not disappoint from MC Lars. There was a good mix of older songs like “Lars Attacks” to newer stuff like “Zombie T-Rex.” He brought up Mega Ran for a couple songs too. Lars integrated Big O into the set for some of the more punk songs. Myles’ hard singing style was the perfect solution for singing the STZA’s part of “Zombie T-Rex.” Lars got the slowest mosh pit going during “Hot Topic is Not Punk Rock,” and brought on stage two audience members to skank to “This Gigantic Robot Kills.” The set closed on one of the Edgar Allen Poe tracks, “The Raven.” MC Lars always delivers fun and engaging sets every time I see him.
Living up to my name, and on a night where there was three simultaneous shows I wanted to see, I managed to run over to Yucca to see most of In the Whale’s set. Speaking of high energy, this duo from Colorado brings it with just a guitar and drum kit. There is an intensity to Nate on vocals that shows through his expressions on every lyric he sings. Eric joins him singing while drumming with a great power and speed. The banter between adds to the entertainment, usually blunt and funny, while talking directly to the audience. In the Whale is an amazing band that I want to see get bigger, because they deserve it. They made for a great additional conclusion of music for my Wednesday night.