A Saturday night unlike any other is brewing underground in Leeds. The Key Club, the city’s newest rock music venue, is tonight playing host to Californian rapper Andrew Nielsen – better known as MC Lars. Self-described as ‘post-punk laptop rap’, Nielsen’s music also fits into the nerdcore genre. Nerdcore is a type of rap that focuses on typically ‘nerdy’ subjects, from poetry to Star Wars. It’s not your average concert, and MC Lars is not your average rapper.
Lars arrives on stage to thunderous cheers, immediately launching into a track from his latest album The Zombie Dinosaur LP. His on-stage setup consists entirely of his laptop, which plays the beats for his songs. This means there isn’t much room for improvisation as there is with a live band, which leads to Lars somewhat looking like a rapping karaoke act. Nevertheless, the audience seems to enjoy it, heartily shouting back when requested at multiple points during the night.
The Leeds show is the first night of Lars’ UK tour to celebrate ten years since his album The Graduate. “This next song is the only song I did that charted anywhere,” laughs Lars before he plays Download This Song, featuring the vocals of Bowling For Soup’s Jaret Reddick.
The show is certainly a varied one. One song leads to the crowd raising their hands in a ‘Live Long and Prosper’ gesture like Spock from Star Trek and another has a large mosh pit. The most bemusing moment comes during a song about Moby Dick (Nielsen is an English graduate), when the audience is shown how to do a ‘whale dance’. The best part? The vast majority of the crowd actually do the dance when the time comes. The audience is up for a laugh, and this in turn fuels Lars to give them his best.
Support act Mega Ran is brought back on stage late in the evening to perform some songs he has previously recorded with MC Lars. The two rappers seem to have a genuine friendship, cemented by their announcement that they will be releasing an album together in 2017. For the finale, a local rapper by the name of B-Type is pulled up from the crowd to help perform a song about Edgar Allan Poe’s poem The Raven. The crowd loves it, and as the song finishes and MC Lars leaves the stage, they yell for more. Their excitement is so palpable that Lars actually comes out and, despite a curfew, manages to perform a verse and a chorus of one more song before he definitely has to leave.
By most people’s standards, it’s not a normal concert by any means. But judging by the smiles on faces as the audience leaves, it is bloody good fun.