Eugene Weekly : Music : 10.09.08

Tech N9ne Says, ‘Eat Your Wheaties’

Tech N9ne is mainstream hip hop’s misfit. Even though he writes swollen ego songs about the usual suspects in mainstream and “gangsta” rap, and even though he has worked with some powerful collaborators (Jay-Z among them), something — perhaps his hardcore image or maybe his bizarre sense of humor — seems to have kept that hit radio single just out of reach. Tech N9ne languishes in a bizarre subset of the mainstream as an independent artist whose music shares enough in common with major-label megastars like 50 Cent or Ludacris to join their ranks at the top but who hasn’t made it there yet. Instead of blowing up all at once in an orgiastic display of hype, it’s been a slow, steady progression upward; Tech N9ne’s ninth and latest album, Killer, reached #8 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip Hop Chart, and #12 on the Top 200, which is the best any of his albums have done thus far. And even hip hop listeners who never really managed to understand Tech N9ne’s appeal have to acknowledge Killer’s club-friendly party potential. However you feel about the money ’n’ women angle, Tech N9ne can quickly and seamlessly weave his way through tongue-twisting rhymes that would tie a lesser rapper’s tongue in knots. Not that there aren’t instances in which he sorta skates by. With all due respect, Tech, it’s not a rhyme when you end three sentences in a row with “me.” We know you can do better than that. Then there are tracks that are downright ludicrous, like Killer’s “Wheaties.” You can’t take a song too seriously  when it that revolves around this statement: “If you wanna please me / Better eat your Wheaties, girl.” But who knows? It might just be the kind of topical humor that a big audience — a radio audience — could appreciate. Tech N9ne, Kriss Kaliko, Kutt Calhoun, Grave Plott,
Prozak, Skatterman and Snug Brim play at 8 pm Saturday, Oct. 11, at McDonald Theatre. $21.50 adv., $25 door. — Sara Brickner

Separate Moons

Americana. Just what the hell is Americana? Or maybe I should ask what isn’t? There seems to be a narrow definition of the word out there in Music Review Land. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m as guilty as other critics in tossing the catch-all at bands and musicians, lassoing up any of them that even hint at country or folk. But isn’t blues Americana? Gospel? Dirty South rap? Southern California hardcore? All of these genres are quintessentially American and could fit under the Americana umbrella just as easily as, say, roots rock. So, in the case of The Moondoggies, who are often corralled and branded Americana, let’s dispense with the critic’s glossary of lazy labels. Besides, they sound more Canadian anyway.

It’s true. The Moondoggies sound like the bastard cousins of The Band or Neil Young. But what’s even more striking is how, not unlike those pioneering Canucks, the Seattle four-piece mines a place they barely know and really don’t belong to. On their debut album, Don’t Be a Stranger, The Moondoggies tap into the American South’s open spaces and flesh out the rural folk, dirty blues and backroad country sounds that are a far cry from the Pacific Northwest. Three-part harmonies kick back with warm Rhodes piano and songs like “’Ol Blackbird” and “Bogachiel Rain Blues” fling empty moonshine bottles off the front porch of some Mississippi shanty. Their take on the traditional “Jesus on the Mainline” is a spiritual-soaked, clap-along tent revival, while the epic “Night and Day” with its lackadaisical tempo changes could be “Band on the Run” filtered through The Flying Burrito Brothers. It’s working-class, roots-laced music that borrows from an unconnected time and place … and what could be more American (or Americana) than that? The Moondoggies play at 10 pm Saturday, Oct. 11, at Luckey’s. 21+ show. $5. — Jeremy Ohmes 

Melodius Thunk

Plan for a night of anarchy and atheism as Eugene’s The Athiarchists join a lineup of five bands covering the intersection of punk, metal and hardcore. The Athiarchists are just two dudes (there really does seem to be a proliferation of duos on the music scene these days) on guitar/bass and drums whose dual-vocal, old-school thrash collides with new-school noise. They play the chunka chunka mid-tempo thrash beat so much that you might get tired of it, if that were possible for any real metal head. Too bad The Athiarchists are opening this show, because a lot of people probably won’t get there early enough to witness the spectacle for themselves.

L.A.’s Instinct of Aggression mashes up totally psycho nonstop thrash with growling vocals and undertones like Pantera in a street fight with Slayer. Straight Line Stitch is Knoxville’s export of third-wave metalcore with aggressive male-female vocals and melodic interludes by singer Alexis Brown. The fourth band on the lineup, Snot, is legendary to those who like metalcore and nu metal. They broke up 10 years ago when front man Lynn Strait died in a car accident. After Snot disbanded, its various members went on to other notable acts including Godsmack and Hed PE. This year, Snot reformed with a new singer, Tommy Vext, formerly of Divine Heresy, and original members Mike Doling, Sonny Mayo (of Sevendust), John Fahnestock and drummer Jamie Miller. 

Former Coal Chamber singer Dex Fafara fronts DevilDriver, and their blend of modern thrash and pure metalcore has steadily improved with time. Building riff by riff with a strong double bass sound, their songs are totally vicious and fast from start to stop. By the end of this evening your ears will be bleeding from joy. DevilDriver, Snot, Instinct of Aggression, Straight Line Stitch and The Athiarchists play at 8 pm Thursday, Oct. 16, at the WOW Hall. $16 adv., $18 door. — Vanessa Salvia

Just Don’t Call It Nerdcore

He may have coined the term, but the pigeonholing’s caught up to MC Chris, the rapper with the high-pitched hyperspeed delivery: Let’s just call it hip hop for nerds. He’s so sick of the designation “nerdcore,” in fact, that on his latest release, MC Chris has broken some new ground. For his grave. Because he’s dead. 

Fortunately, he’s reanimating himself to go on tour for that album, which is called, appropriately, MC Chris is Dead. Let’s hope THC doesn’t work on dead brain cells because otherwise, watch out: He might start rampaging through Eugene to sample all the fresh, young, knowledge-swollen brains. The last couple of times MC Chris came to town, he invited all the residents of Eugene to watch the premieres of two most nerd-a-rific films along with him after his shows: first, Revenge of the Sith and then Transformers. But MC Chris by himself should be plenty of entertainment for one evening. His beats are catchy as a Kanye tip, but MC Chris rhymes about things that geeks like ourselves can relate to. Like Boba Fett. And jerking off. And preferring nerdy girls who make references you don’t get to tarted-up beauty queens who don’t read. And, as MC Chris rhymes on an Idle Warship song (Idle Warship is Talib Kweli’s side project), preferring to stay in with some doobage than go out and party. But all ye who prefer to stay in, be warned: The eve of an MC Chris show is not the time for passive inaction on the couch. It is the time to, however arhythmically, however awkwardly, shake what your mama gave you. If what your mama gave you comes dressed in zombie attire, you get $2 off your ticket price. Plus, it’ll be a zombie party. It doesn’t get much nerdier (or more awesome) than that. MC Chris, Totally Michael, Beefy, Saucy Yoda, DJ Ketchup, Zombie Film play at 7:30 pm Wednesday, Oct. 15, at WOW Hall. $13 adv., $15 door.  — Sara Brickner

Family Circle

The Marleys and reggae music go together like Eugene and tofu. While their music might not do much for your palate, your ears will definitely get a tasty treat. In one of three West Coast tour dates, Ky-Mani Marley, just one of Bob’s famous sons, will be gracing Eugene with his presence for the first time. And with a last name like his, the show is likely to sell out.

From T-shirts to posters to tattoos, Bob Marley and his kin are everywhere and so is their music. Ky-Mani was only five years old when his father died, but he definitely got the cherished family tone that his father is known for. With his familiar voice and the enthusiasm to embrace all genres of music, Ky-Mani really knows how to hit the spot when it comes to his upbeat reggae music. Opening acts Nico Luminous and DJ Tekneek mean you can not only jam out to reggae but also get your swerve on to live hip hop and dancehall. Ky-Mani Marley, Nico Luminous and DJ Tekneek play at 9 pm Thursday, Oct. 9, at the Indigo District. $25 adv., $30 door. — Courtney Jacobs