Last Night: MC Chris, Totally Michael and Sirah at Chain Reaction in Anaheim, Oct. 21, 2008.
Better Than: All three of the “Star Wars” prequels. Sorry, “Revenge of the Sith” apologists.
Download: Totally Michael's self-titled debut, released last week and on iTunes.
MC Chris isn't a fan of the “nerdcore” label that's followed him throughout his career. Writing at length on the subject in his MySpace blog, he essentially doesn't want to be the figurehead of any movement, or associated with the other artists assigned by the media and fans to the fledgling mini-genre.
Fair enough, but given both the music and between-song rants delivered Tuesday night, it's clear that the Brooklyn-based rapper is at least still very much nerdy, much to the delight of his devoted fans at Chain Reaction.
Musically, there's not much to an MC Chris (née Chris Ward) live show. He raps, sounding kinda like a higher-pitched Eminem, over backing tracks played on a MacBook off of iTunes, often with his own, recorded voice providing the hook. The real novelty of the experience comes from his aforementioned diatribes, which on this evening involved why people should vote for John McCain (if Mac's elected, “a zombie apocalypse will happen in our lifetime”), masturbating to video game cut scenes, smoking a bowl with Katy Perry and equating buying a $500 Lego Millennium Falcon to buying a car or picking out a home. Hilarious, and exactly the type of material his niche audience is interested in. It's like if Henry Rollins had an Xbox Live account.
That niche audience, mostly high schoolers, only filled up about half of Chain Reaction's 240-person capacity, but MC Chris didn't seem to mind. At least that's what he said, making clear, “An asshole band would be upset about this number of people at a show,” but that he was more than satisfied due to leftover animosity over being excluded from a super-rad slumber party in seventh grade. “This is like 15 slumber parties in a row,” he said.
A slumber party made even cooler by two fans dressing up like Jango Fett and an “evil Jedi,” most likely due to “Fett's Vette,” a tribute to totally badass galactic bounty hunter Boba Fett and the rapper's signature song (though it's at least slightly possible that's just what they happened to wear that day). “Fett's Vette,” which capped the 90-minute set, was featured at the end of a “Sealab 2021” episode, an Adult Swim cartoon that Ward worked on as a writer and as the voice of Hesh.
Adult Swim was another popular topic of discussion, with Ward (who performed in Los Angeles the night before) discussing pitching a new show to Cartoon Network execs called “Battle Hi” (“I'd much rather do that than hang out with you fucking douchebags,” he teased the crowd) and his voice work on the upcoming “Cheyenne Cinnamon and the Fantabulous Unicorn of Sugar Town Candy Fudge,” which will also feature the motley crew of MF Doom, T-Pain and Neko Case.
But yeah, he did songs, too. He got Jango and the Jedi on stage to dance with him during “Nrrrd Grrrl,” a song that namedrops both obscure X-Men characters and the beloved-by-nerds short-lived TV show “Firefly” and is off of his latest album, “MC Chris is Dead.” (“Pretend this is Coruscant,” he told them.) Tunes ranged from odes to sexual frustration (“OnStar To Find the Clit”), Marijuana anthems (“Evergreen”) and good-natured inanity (“Merch Table”). He even had his own version of M.I.A.'s “Paper Planes,” adding his own verses to the currently ubiquitous track.
Totally Michael preceded MC Chris, and has a similar schtick – funny, frequently dirty raps. He performed in the crowd and solicited audience participation during his song “Cheerleaders vs. Drill Team.” LA-based rapper Sirah, who has a more serious bent than her cohorts, opened the show.
Personal Bias: As a veteran of eight consecutive San Diego Comic-Cons and someone who has worked in phrases like “Impressive. Most impressive” into every day vernacular, I fall squarely into the target audience.
Random Detail: There was a girl in Halloween-y type makeup in the crowd. I think she was supposed to be a zombie. Not sure what that was all about.
By The Way: MC Chris is on the soundtrack of “Zach and Miri Make a Porno,” directed by Kevin Smith (a man who's made a few Star Wars references in his day).