Detroit, Michigan, (April 28, 2018) – On any given Saturday night, you can usually find hordes of nerds gathered around gaming tables, 20-sided dice in hand, or perched in front of TVs furiously mashing buttons on their game controllers, but tonight was different. Nerdcore rapper mc chris lured geeks of all flavors away from their computers and into the real world for a night of fast-paced hip-hop rhymes at PJ’s Lager House in Detroit, MI. Warmed up by the heavy-metal-variations-on-classic-video-game-themes sound of the Texas based band Bitforce, the crowd was in the mood to have fun and celebrate their geekdom when MC took the stage.
Always a lover of pop culture, Christopher Ward, now mc chris, made a name for himself first as an animator, songwriter and voice actor with Adult Swim’s Sealab 2021, The Brak Show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, also voicing the rapping giant spider MC Pee Pants on Cartoon Network’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Releasing his debut album Life’s a B*tch and I’m Her Pimp in 2001 changed courses for him as he quickly gathered a fanbase of video game loving, Star Wars obsessed internet addicts. Now with over a dozen LPS and a handful of EPs, mc chris is well established as a master of rhymes with his laptop rap aesthetic, comedic timing and lyrics that delve into almost every aspect of pop culture, science fiction and video games. Collaborations over the years with rappers and musicians such as Talib Kweli, Andrew WK, Cee-Lo, Childish Gambino and GWAR only helped to solidify his place in the music industry as something much more than a novelty act.
The venue may be small, but the crowd’s heart was big as they gave opening act Bitforce a warm welcome. Rocking out to screaming guitars solos in their metal interpretations of songs like Link’s theme from The Legend of Zelda, a Superman vs Batman segment and the climactic set ender about our favorite “Pocket Monsters“ that had the crowd screaming in unison “Gotta catch ‘em all!”, Detroit showed Bitforce that even geeks know we are Rock City. Dressed like 8-bit warriors in light up armor, beards and sneakers, and boasting an illuminated drum set, 紫電 Shiden (Toph Lawrence), バンタ Banta (Joey Devine), and 緑炎 Ryokuen (Marc Lopez) gave a high-octane performance that won’t soon be forgotten!
Taking the stage next, the uninitiated might almost wonder if this was just another sound guy setting things up when a man walked up to the laptop on stage and plugged in a phone. To fans in the know, though, cries of “Hoodie Ninja” and “Wiid” filled their lungs as they recognized mc chris, clad in a simple black hoodie, jeans and baseball cap. With a show that includes nearly as much outright hilarious stand up comedy as songs, MC rattled through a 16 song set, rapping at lightning speed in his trademark helium-esque high-pitched voice. Fan favorites included the sing-a-long “IG-88’s ’57 Chevy” and “Smackababy” from 2010’s mc chris Goes To Hell, as well as the opener “mc chris the Shit” from the album mc chris Is Dreaming. Detroit fans are apparently fans of the devil’s lettuce as they heartily endorsed the recreational use classics “Wiid” and “Drinkin’ Blunts (Smokin’ 40s)”, with a helping of “Pizza Butt” now that they have the munchies.
Part way through the show, MC stops the music and summons fans on stage for his nightly Funny T-Shirt Contest. The crowd has come prepared, with quite a variety of humorous nerd themed shirts, with the ultimate winner being Rachel in her handmade Woodward Dream Cruise themed shirt featuring Boba Fett’s Vette, real candy sewn into the ribbony hems and several other images from MC’s catalog of characters. The beats continued as MC took us through “i want candy”, “The Tussin”, “hijack” and “tasty face”.
Overstaying his typical show, MC noted he’d been performing for almost 2 hours telling the crowd that Detroit has been the best audience of the tour and that he always loves coming back to the Midwest, as a native of Illinois with his parents now living in Michigan. He showed us his thanks with riotous renditions of his Star Wars themed tunes, “Fett’s Vette” in which we learn Boba Fett is chasing bounties to finance his sports car and a number about our favorite space smuggler, “Han Solo” to close out the set. There wasn’t a single voice that wasn’t singing along by the end, arms in the air and permagrins on their faces.
Definitely not your typical live band experience, an mc chris show is guaranteed to be worth tearing yourself away from the keyboard and reveling in communal geekdom! See more dates on the mc chris Is Back! Tour here.
Senior Photojournalist: Kate Sumbler