Eugene Weekly : Music : 6.28.07

Nerd Transformation

First it was Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith. Now it’s Transformers. Nerd rapper MC Chris sure does love watching movies with Eugene’s nerd community. We must have impressed him after the Star Wars show; last time he came to town, he told me that it was “the most successful night ever, not in terms of numbers, but [in] how the night went.” And even though that was several years ago, MC Chris’ local popularity has firmly sealed Eugene’s reputation as a nerd haven. We are the chosen few who get to see MC Chris, and then, sweaty and exhausted, drive to the Gateway Cinemark to see Transformers. No one else gets those bragging rights. I mean, talk about street cred. And this singlehandedly disproves once and for all that a lack of physical coordination makes geeks unenergetic concertgoers. I mean, just because we can’t dance doesn’t mean we can’t wave our hands in the air like pros. Video games do work the hand muscles. Plus, nerds don’t get out much, so when we do finally make it off the couch, we get all crazy. Take note, nerds: This pre-Transformers concert is your next opportunity to get down wearing a cardboard box.

Even though cool people like MC Chris too, it’s only because — like other notable nerds before him — he turned a schoolyard handicap into a successful enterprise. When MC Chris raps, it sounds like he survives on helium instead of oxygen. This may be why his hip hop career began in cartoon form, on late-night nerd television (Adult Swim), where MC Chris portrayed a demonic, diaper-wearing spider on Aqua Teen Hunger Force and an obnoxious employee on Sealab 2021.

With such a ready fan base, it’s no surprise that MC Chris’ hyperactive, self-deprecating tunes draw a huge crowd in Eugene, where ’80s cartoon lovers, D&D players and Star Wars geeks abound. Sure, MC Chris raps about bitches — but bitches that wouldn’t give him the time of day in high school. And even though he’s probably got his choice of lady friends these days, he’s still going to see Transformers with us. What a guy.

MC Chris featuring Nursehella, Beefy, Stunt Junkies, Rappy McRapperson, Funky 49 and Dr. Strangelove appears at 7 pm Tuesday, July 3, at the WOW Hall. $15 show only, $30 with Transformers admission (movie screens at midnight). — Sara Brickner


Hot Pants

Pants Pants Pants

Sometimes you just got to see something to believe it. The San Francisco-based electronic-pop trio Pants Pants Pants, in addition to having the most repetitive name ever, is known for peculiar live shows. Get this: “Their unending list of exploits include a man-sized otter reciting spoken word, vocal parts cell phoned in from a singer in the audience or the Virgin Islands.” And that’s not all. The show also includes the band’s live performance of the Crash Test Dummies’ video “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” as well as “Choreographed dancing by the band’s own Pants Pants Pants Sparkle Motion Dance Dance Dance Team.” Ah, visual satisfaction in every sense of the word.

The band, which always tries to combine music and art, just finished its latest album OK, Fine. The 12-track album is a dance-geek’s dream. The trio — Lauren Fleischer, Oliver Wise, Steve Lank — creates poppy dance beats much in the same way that Architecture in Helsinki and United States of Electronica do, but with a B-52s/Eurythmics flair. While it’s not the best electronic music out there, there’s something endearing about the band. The band’s website and MySpace page are worth checking out as they are filled with unicorns and other silly graphics. Also featured is a link to their Full House music-video tribute, which may disturb die-hard fans of the show. Their webpage sums up their persona well: “Electrocknic pioneers PPP safely straddles the line between not-quite-marketable and not-quite-abstract-enough-to-be-cool.”

The result is nerdiness to the extreme. And that’s okay, because it’s awesome nerdiness. The band members oversee all aspects of their musical endeavor, which contributes to their distinctive branding. In all aspects of production — records, music videos and their webpage — the band’s personality is present. Where there are unicorns, dinosaurs fighting or floating bacon, there will be Pants. Bring on the noise, bring on the nerds.

Pants Pants Pants and Uni and Her Ukelele play at 10 pm Thursday, July 5, at Luckey’s. 21+ show. $3-$5. — Amanda Burhop



Celtic Teens Go Live

Tonn Nua

At their Northwest Folklife gig in Seattle a month ago, local band Tonn Nua was labeled a “Feisty Teenage Celtic Band.” Whuh? Are feisty teenagers usually into Celtic music? (OK, yes, yes, I was, but that was half my life ago, and somehow I thought teenagers had changed. On the other hand, feisty isn’t exactly “rebellious” or “punk rock,” so.) Never mind: These five local musicians — Ansel Dow, 13, Allison Helzer, 15, and the triplets Zoe, Daphne and David Garcia, 17 — love to play tunes from the old countries (that is, Scotland and Ireland), and their infectious playing lights up the audience. You can hear a sample of them live at the Folklife gig at NW’s streaming site (click on the Saturday link at, or you can buy their 2006 CD Eye of the Wind to hear the studio versions of some pretty awesome tunes.

Allison’s parental unit Pete Helzer notes that they were younger at the time, and “Ansel was only 12 when the CD was recorded,” which, boy howdy, those 12-year-old fiddle players are just a dime a dozen, aren’t they? Yeah. Um, not. But don’t be jealous when “Julia Delaney’s/Tam Linn” takes you on that wild ride from the end of the tale or when Ansel’s original, lamenting “Eye of the Wind” sends you down a nostalgic road to the rolling hills of the emerald isles. Just roll with the tunes. These Celtic kids are chill. (And, in case you’re confused or from Boston, Celtic? It’s got a hard C at the beginning. Keltic. Get my brilliant alliteration now?)

Though Eye of the Wind does have some rough edges, the CD is fun to listen to on shuffle, and the streaming set from NW Folklife shows off their bouncy performance style. Allison notes, “We really like the way we perform live because there’s so much energy” from crowd feedback and participation. Producers layering in the tin whistle (David) over the banjo (Allison) or the fiddle (Ansel) just can’t do as much justice to the young ones’ speed and agility, so they’re bringing their high-energy foot-stomping drive to a live CD recording gig at Tsunami Books, where the audience will be part of the production. It’s a great way to listen to this band before they get big (PBS may be filming them at the Highland Games Festival near Portland next month) and to participate in a bit of mischevious, lilting, enjoyable music-making. Tonn Nua’s live CD recording starts at 7:30 pm on Friday, June 29 at Tsunami Books. $5. — Suzi Steffen