This Little Underground: Tyler, the Creator and the new reality

This Little Underground: Tyler, the Creator and the new reality
Christopher Garcia

These Odd Future cats are an intriguing lot. For both better and worse, this crew is so emblematic of the new reality. Like the Internet (the monolith that rules modern life, not the Odd Future spinoff group the Internet), these art-punk rappers are a hive of frenzy. The intensity of their left-field creativity is a good thing, and there are glimpses of brilliance in their work. But the side effect is chronic ADHD.

At OFWGKTA kingpin Tyler, the Creator's show (April 28, Plaza Live), there was an opener, but this wasn't a concert that needed any warming up. The throngs were chanting opener Taco's name before it even started. As soon as he pressed play – and that is practically all he did in live terms – the room went off like a human popcorn machine, which is a remarkable reception for a guy who neither rapped nor spun and was basically a hype man for a laptop. Tyler, thankfully, was much more live. Although there was little craft demonstrated in the copious rap barking that often blew out the mic, his delivery was big in gusto and his fan connection notably personal and earnest.

Though it can only make your statement more cogent, the finer points of live performance can't fully portray the countercultural juggernaut that is Odd Future. Tyler and his crew are doing something right to whip up near-psychotic excitement, and credit's due for building a fever hot enough to precede you. Very few today have blazed a fresh reality with such brash, dominating strokes to become a new-guard flagship like these guys. They are, without question, one of the most imagination-grabbing cabals in the musical zeitgest right now.

The Beat

It's only been three months since San Francisco's Monophonics came through town in support of Galactic, but opening is no way to see a band like this, even if it is on a bigger stage. A unit like this needs its own spotlight, something they recently got as the first big headliner for the mixed-genre Grand Collab series (April 26, Will's Pub). From the shine they radiated, these guys are stars ready to shoot.

They pack the instant retro-soul hook of that hot Daptone sound with some added psych depth, and they roll deep live as an active, well-furnished sextet. But even among all these well-armed players, Kelly Finnigan's burning, textured voice is what drives this soul locomotive and drives it sweet and hard. That shit's for real, and he maxes it out. Fifteen minutes into the set and dude's shirt was already soaked through.

Monophonics are one of the more vibrant, most immediately distinctive acts in today's soul game. They're not quite a household name yet, but word's getting around. It's just a matter of everyone catching up because – in talent and aesthetic – they're a complete act already.

What happened to this city's love for the Supersuckers? It once existed. I saw it. In 2004, the good-time country punks rocked a stocked room at the Social. Now, Eddie Spaghetti comes back solo (April 30, Backbooth) and plays to mostly fans of local opener Johnny Knuckles. The fuck?

But rather than accept the insult, the man adapts and puts on a great show completely optimized for a small audience. A consummate and savvy showman, he throws the program out the window and goes all request right from the jump. Now that's total accommodation. Luckily, despite the lack of numbers, the knowledge of these fans was deep and the stream of shouted requests was enough to propel the night without a pause. The only break from that crowd-steered momentum was to preview a song from the new Supersuckers country album that's currently being recorded.

I hate to glorify a dismally attended show by a good artist but this one really rewarded the devout. And that's all due to Eddie Spaghetti's aplomb and charm as a performer. When you buck the hand you're dealt and give the true fans that actually showed up what was basically a living room engagement (except with a pro sound system and full bar), that's turning lemons into bourbon.


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