Downton Abbey: The Exhibition has landed in Boston at The Castle at Park Plaza for an extremely limited three month run. An appropriately themed afternoon tea was held on Friday, June 14th, featuring Executive Chairman of Carnival Films, Gareth Neame, and members of the press and socialites (aka social media influencers).
movie review, forces of geek, comics and comic books
One of SNL's newest cast members is rising star Chris Redd. Chris is also known for appearing on Netflix' Disjointed and in movies Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping opposite Andy Samberg, The House and A Futile and Stupid Gesture. Yesterday, Redd dropped his new album But Here We Are on Comedy Central Records (available everywhere).
An old enemy of the Waynes in Gotham City resurfaces as crime spikes, busying the Dark Knight with bat-famliy domestic disturbances in Batman #3. … British creator Paul Grist delights audiences with his adept cartooning and clever callbacks to comic book history. Welcome Grist’s teenage Mudman #1 from Image Comics into your home, but insist on leaving those boots at the door! … Superior and Kick Ass fans, get the Kapow Guinness World Record Special penned by over 50 creators in just 12 hours to benefit sick kids. … LeaguePodcast.com have reached a comic book milestone today - download or stream episode #100 today! Special shout-out from our nerd MC Frontalot here!
Rapper MC Frontalot is at the forefront of a hip-hop genre that’s being called “nerdcore.” (Photo courtesy: Adam Merrifield, Flickr/Creative Commons)
MC Frontalot is a 30-something former web designer, graduate of Wesleyan University, and a current resident of Brooklyn. He’ s also at the forefront of the hip-hop genre known as “nerdcore.”
MC Frontalot, also known as Damian Hess, describes himself on Facebook as the world’s 579th-greatest rapper. “This has been scientifically determined by scientists, using science,” he says.
He also tweets, blogs, Tumblr’s, and hosts something called an “open source beat project” on his website, where he also recommends web browser extensions.
MC Frontalot has just released his fifth studio album called “Solved,” and he’ll be performing at the Middle East in Cambridge next Wednesday, November 9th. Ahead of that performance, he spoke with Radio Boston from Jacksonville, Fla.
The original mastermind of Nerdcore Hip-Hop and still its Final Boss, MC Frontalot (nee Damian Hess) takes great pleasure in identifying himself as a professional rapper in polite conversation.
Front was born in San Francisco and grew up in Berkeley. He was tall and gangling, scrawny, had trouble breathing, and could not see well. A special teacher was called in to help him attain basic competence on the monkey bars, another to privately administer standardized tests (his were three grade levels advanced from his classmates). Thusly, he was the most popular kid in his elementary school. Just kidding! He got pushed down a lot and called “nerd.” Did he maybe even deserve it? I mean, really – who strikes out at kickball?
He spent the next twenty years or so trying to get over it. And kind of succeeded! Flash forward to 1999: the dotcom bubble is maximally inflated; nerds everywhere imagine themselves to be popular and/or hip. Damian is getting overpaid to code web pages, which leaves him free in the evenings to play with audio software. A longtime idolizer of rappers, he has been committing his own esoteric hip-hop compositions to four-track tape since high school, revealing them to nobody. Suddenly! Multi-track desktop studios, cheap pro-grade recording hardware, skyrocketing bandwidth, semi-anonymous web publishing – these factors converge on Damian’s rap hobby like a flock of winged monkeys. He posts an MC Frontalot web page, dubbing his output “Nerdcore Hip-Hop” since his audience is composed of several Star Wars figurines who live on his desk (and also random internet people who click on his MP3s by mistake).
Now it is 2010. Nerdcore has metastasized into an internet phenomenon and underground touring powerhouse, with dozens of live acts and more than a hundred home-studio rhymers self-identifying within the subgenre. MC Frontalot, called alternately the movement’s godfather or grandfather (thanks, kids), leads the charge, performing for thousands around the country and at prominent geek gatherings such as the Penny Arcade Expo and BlizzCon. He’s been featured in Newsweek, CNN, The New York Times, Spin, Wired, Blender, XXL, XLR8R, The London Daily Telegraph, NPR, G4TV, Esquire, The Guardian (UK), The Wall Street Journal, and scores of city papers nationally and internationally. He has released four studio albums, Nerdcore Rising (Sept 2005), Secrets From The Future (Apr 2007), Final Boss (Nov 2008), and Zero Day (Apr 2010). The documentary feature, Nerdcore Rising: The Movie, which focuses on Front’s live band and the Nerdcore phenomenon general, debuted at the South By Southwest Film Festival, March 2008, and is currently distributed by Virgil films / B-Side.
Brandon Patton’s newest album, “How I Allegedly Bit a Man in Gloucestershire,” features 13 mostly comical songs that capture hilarity of his live shows opening for MC Frontalot. On the album, he exposes dark family secrets (Mixed-Up Modern Family,) sings anthems about sex acts (Munching the Coch and Kethcup and Mayo,) recalls his time temping and looking for love on an alien planet (My Girlfriend Was Kidnapped by Aliens,) contemplates the limits of friendship (Would You Take a Bullet For Me?) and relates stories about traveling the world and getting into mischief (Big in Japan, Private Jet, How I Allegedly Bit a Man in Gloucestershire.)
Patton posts stories once a month on his webpage, along with a free download of each accompanying song.
About the artist
Brandon Patton, songwriter and instrumentalist, currently resides in New Haven, CT.
Patton also plays bass under the pseudonym BL4k Lotus for MC Frontalot, progenitor of “nerdcore hiphop.” MC Frontalot’s band and its first national tour was the subject of the documentary Nerdcore Rising. The Wikipedia entry on MC Frontalot can be found here.
Patton also performs with playwright Prince Gomolvilas in the underground theater duo Jukebox Stories, called one of the 10 best plays of 2008 by the East Bay Express.
He composed the songs for Love Sucks: the Musical, a Shakespearean take on the punk rock of the 1970s, which won honorable mention at the 2007 New York Musical Theatre Festival.
Patton’s previous album, “Should Confusion,” was nominated for Album of the Year by the 2004 Independent Music Awards.
He also sometimes plays bass for Futureboy and Jonathan Coulton.
About his past
He was born in Grand Forks, N.D., grew up in St. Paul, Minn., and also lived in Trinidad and Tobago for two years when he was young.
Patton has been writing music since he was pre-pubescent. When he was 11 years old, the composer/ethnomusicologist Miriam Gerberg rented a spare room in his mother’s house in St. Paul, MN, and Patton enlisted her help to write his first song, entitled “I’m Not Your Slave,” a protest about household chores. In junior high, when he started listening to punk rock, he and his friends set out to be offensive and brash, penning the songs “Fuck the Nun,” and “Fetus Burger.” With slim pickings in the record collections of his parents (Neil Diamond, Judy Collins) Patton found inspiration in a vibrant DIY counter-culture of zine writers and indie bands who would brandish the word “sellout” and discuss politics in independent coffeehouses and alternative art galleries. Minneapolis was exporting some incredible music at the time, not just the ultra famous Prince, but acts such as the Replacements, Hüsker Dü, the Jayhawks, and Walt Mink.
He attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where the music department was ruled by experimental composers and ethnomusicologists. “It was incredible what I was exposed to there,” says Patton, “but there was also this Midwestern voice in my head whispering ‘College is not the real world.’ I didn’t want to become a disciple. And I couldn’t play any of this amazing world music I loved and still have any authenticity.” So in his own writing, he ended up turning toward the rock and pop of his youth. “I got obsessed with trying to figure out who I was in the midst of all of these new influences,” says Patton. “I was searching for an authentic expression of myself.”
After college, his first experience playing music professionally rammed this point home. He spent a summer playing Caribbean music (which he loves) for drunken tourists (not so much) next to a beach volleyball court inside a giant country western bar on Cape Cod (hated it).
His first solo album, “Nocturnal,” was recorded after hours (because there was no soundproofing) in the basement of an office building in Easthampton, Mass. Patton frequently let a homeless friend sleep in the studio, and one night said friend locked himself out of the room wearing nothing but underwear and had to hide under the staircase for an entire work day until Patton happened by.
Patton used to play in the band three against four with Jay Skowronek (Maxeen) and fellow schoolmate Anand Nayak (Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem). Nayak and Patton were wandering down a dirt road one day and stumbled upon a decrepit slaughterhouse that turned out to be a recording studio. Inside was audio engineer Mark Alan Miller, who had worked with nearly every rock group in Western Massachusetts, including area royalty J.Mascis. Miller would later mix many of the tracks for their albums, as well as many of the tracks on Patton’s later solo work.
Patton signed a deal with music publisher ACMRecords which has lead to music getting placed onto the soundtracks of several TV shows, including Monster Garage, That 70s Show, and The Real World.
Patton was one of five songwriters to win an internet contest earning an invitation to perform at the Newport Folk Festival in 2004.
The Temecula Film and Music Festival named Brandon Patton Top Music Artist in 2005, but failed to make good on a promise of a free hot air balloon ride.
Math the Band is a electro-punk spazz duo from Providence, RI. They use a combination of old video game systems, analog synthesizers and energy drinks to make the fastest, loudest, most party-est music they can imagine. They’ve only cracked their head open on stage ONCE