On Saturday, October 4th, the most recent Strange Famous Records tour rolled through Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge, manned by U.K. hip-hop/electro act Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip and Providence, RI’s own B. Dolan. As a fan of both acts, I had high hopes and I was not disappointed. This easily ranked as one of the more exciting and original shows I’ve seen in many years. In large part, the strength of this show rested on the odd contrast that Dan v. Pip and Dolan presented, but more on that in a minute.
I arrived at the show with little or no expectations in terms of attendance, especially considering the horrible review that Dan v. Pip’s new record Angles received on Pitchfork. Knowing that indie music fans often have a ridiculously ironic herd mentality, I was worried that this review in and of itself may hurt attendance (it did get a mention as Scroobius Pip altered the lyrics of Thou Shalt Always Kill to say “Thou shalt not read Pitchfork Media”), but it seemed to make no dent at all as though show was very well attended.
After the openers finished, both acts being very odd choices to join this bill, B. Dolan came out on stage. Though the show was, as I said, very well attended, I don’t think many members of the audience knew who Dolan was. And the fact that he came out on stage wearing a formed-rubber Hilary Clinton mask surely only amplified any initial misgivings the Dan v. Pip fans may have had about this unknown act. However, as Dolan tore through his first track, the chorus of which was a call-and-response to the tune of, “When I say ‘Hilary’/’you say Clinton’…Hilary/Clinton, Hilary/Clinton…When I say ‘Is a’/you say ‘Lizard,’ … Is a/ Lizard, Is a/Lizard” the floor which was previously empty except for myself and one other hardcore fan filled up extremely quickly. Dolan’s stage presence, mic control, and ability to banter with the crowd was absolutely exceptional, and his energy was infectious. He tore through his opening verse from the Strange Famous crew track Paid Dues, did a number of new rap tracks that I assume are on his forthcoming album including a heartwarmer about agoraphobia. Though Bombzo did not make any appearances, and he did only one spoken word (Still Electric from his album The Failure), the crowd was treated to not one, but two appearances by Evil Knievel, including as a set-up for his set closer which was seemingly a rap redux of his amazing spoken word piece, Skycycle Blues. By the end of his set, Dolan had the entire crowd eating out of the palm of his hand and I suspect he easily could’ve performed for another twenty minutes at least, continuing to hold the crowd’s attention. I personally would’ve liked to have heard some more of the tracks off of The Failure, but looking beyond my whims, I think Dolan was wise to debut much of the new rap material; it made for a much more coherent set with what was to follow.
While on stage, Dolan told the crowd that he was filling the room up with negative energy so as to suck all of our rage, anger and hatred into his own body in the form of tumors. A beautiful image. He explained that he was doing so in order to insure that we would all be empty vessels when Dan v. Pip came on stage so that they could shoot “rainbows out of their dicks” to fill us with joy and light. Dan v. Pip did exactly that.. They began their set performing The Beat That My Heart Skipped and from their continued to plow through tracks off of Angles including Development, Rappers Battle, Magician’s Assistant, Angles, Look For The Woman, Back From Hell, and Thou Shalt Always Kill (the latter two generating a hell of a dance party). Pip was wearing a thrift-store suit, looking a bit like a Hasidic version of David Byrne, reclining on a lounge chair between songs, sipping on bubbly rosé, which he said was giving him hiccups. Dan twiddled knobs, reconstructing his beats live on the fly, stretching the sonic capacities of the Doug Fir to its limits. Prior to the end of their set, Dolan came out on stage, performing a feat of derring-do as Knievel, jumping over Dan and Pip to the tune of Final Countdown. After leaving stage, and being hailed for an encore, Dan v. Pip returned to the stage ripping through a tore-up electro version of Cream by Prince, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
For those of you who haven’t checked out either of these acts, I encourage you not only to pick up their most recent records on Strange Famous Records, but also to check them out whenever they come back through town again. I will certainly be there.