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Soda Bar Serves Nerdy Art Rap

Los Angeles-based alt-rapper Busdriver commanded the Soda Bar’s minute stage like a chameleon, blending with shifting sounds and patterns. “I’m just here to hold your hand when you die,” he proclaimed over the jittery flute of “Imaginary Places,” as the audience spastically bounced around as if shots were being fired at their feet. The song, which gained popularity from a Tony Hawk video game soundtrack, was one of the few older selections in a setlist dominated by the experimental Beaus $ Eros. No one should be surprised by Busdriver’s whimsical tangents at this point, but it should be noted that his new endeavor is possibly the first album to strongly feature a vocoder and not suck. Songs such as “Bon Bon Fire” and “Feelings” translated well to the live setting.

Open Mike Eagle’s all-too-brief performance featured the first (and probably last) Dinosaurs sitcom reference in the history of rap music. He also sampled They Might Be Giants’ “Particle Man” and arguably stole the show from the acrobatic headliner. There is a market for nerdy art rap, and that congested city up the 5 may be churning it out at a higher rate than any other hip-hop-inclined locale in 2012. Busdriver’s partner-in-rhyme, Nocando, played a set made up of new, unreleased material. Though less intellectually appealing than the other two emcees on the bill, Nocando has an energetic and comedic approach worthy of stage-sharing with his witty SoCal comrades.

The night was a showcase of L.A. underground past, present, and future. Something beyond the smoggy skyline and treacherous freeways has made the city a hotbed for original indie rap over the past couple decades. The only villain combating the avant-garde bars of Busdriver and company was the sound system, seemingly always an issue at Soda Bar rap shows, which had bass clanging harshly against the ceiling and a lack of properly adjusted vocals.

Concert Acts: Busdriver, Nocando, Open Mike Eagle

Venue: Soda Bar

Date: March 1

Seat: General

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Los Angeles-based alt-rapper Busdriver commanded the Soda Bar’s minute stage like a chameleon, blending with shifting sounds and patterns. “I’m just here to hold your hand when you die,” he proclaimed over the jittery flute of “Imaginary Places,” as the audience spastically bounced around as if shots were being fired at their feet. The song, which gained popularity from a Tony Hawk video game soundtrack, was one of the few older selections in a setlist dominated by the experimental Beaus $ Eros. No one should be surprised by Busdriver’s whimsical tangents at this point, but it should be noted that his new endeavor is possibly the first album to strongly feature a vocoder and not suck. Songs such as “Bon Bon Fire” and “Feelings” translated well to the live setting.

Open Mike Eagle’s all-too-brief performance featured the first (and probably last) Dinosaurs sitcom reference in the history of rap music. He also sampled They Might Be Giants’ “Particle Man” and arguably stole the show from the acrobatic headliner. There is a market for nerdy art rap, and that congested city up the 5 may be churning it out at a higher rate than any other hip-hop-inclined locale in 2012. Busdriver’s partner-in-rhyme, Nocando, played a set made up of new, unreleased material. Though less intellectually appealing than the other two emcees on the bill, Nocando has an energetic and comedic approach worthy of stage-sharing with his witty SoCal comrades.

The night was a showcase of L.A. underground past, present, and future. Something beyond the smoggy skyline and treacherous freeways has made the city a hotbed for original indie rap over the past couple decades. The only villain combating the avant-garde bars of Busdriver and company was the sound system, seemingly always an issue at Soda Bar rap shows, which had bass clanging harshly against the ceiling and a lack of properly adjusted vocals.

Concert Acts: Busdriver, Nocando, Open Mike Eagle

Venue: Soda Bar

Date: March 1

Seat: General

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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