Waxing short but sweet
Local hero Marty James packs the Brick Works for a free album release party
Local boy made good—real good.
Marty James, Chico native and music industry up-and-comer, had the line of spectators for last Saturday’s CD release show wrapped around the block. James is the singer-songwriter at the core of hip-hop/pop crossover unit Scapegoat Wax, which is just starting to get some serious recognition outside of the area. By that, I mean recognition pretty much everywhere. Wax’s “Aisle 10” is all over the radio waves and surfacing on MTV2, while the debut album, Okeeblow, is being released on the Beastie Boys’ Grand Royal Records.
Scapegoat Wax may be going worldwide, but James has made it clear that he is not forgetting his roots. Tonight was all about hometown pride, from the booking of local musical acts right on down to the details. “Chico Matters” buttons were for sale and being sported like celebrity AIDS awareness ribbons.
Fast (or maybe nice and easily) becoming one of Chico’s favorite bands is the savvy Slow Car Crash. Taking the stage to a resistant crowd, frontman Omarr Escoffie quickly quelled the premature chants for Scapegoat Wax, taking the frenzied lather of expectant, uninterested under-agers and parlaying it into sincere appreciation. I guess with the soul being so sweetly spoon-fed to them, the kiddies figured they could wait for the main attraction. The cellist and keyboardist of this ensemble mix it up quite nicely, but what makes this band different is the stellar vocal ability. Escoffie’s got a voice that kicks, and Christina Brown, backup singer extraordinaire, doesn’t hurt either; she backed up those vocals to the point of busting. One should never underestimate the stage presence of a woman equipped with Aretha-esque pipes and a red-satin bustier.
Scratch-master DJ Badrok took to the stage next and had his way with the turntables. Renowned for his ability to caress a controlled frenzy from vinyl, this much respected and battle-tested DJ spun the sound until everyone in the room came around. Infectious is a cliché comparison tool in the music review biz, but in this case it is so apt it’s scary. Those fast moving hands sent shivers of happy twitching and bumping through the crowd like a splendid disease.
Next up was cootdog, resident burst of rap energy. With local radio play, a slick album out and a people-savvy personality—well, if you haven’t heard of this guy, you soon will. The acoustics created a lack of lyrical clarity (what’d he say?), but it still got the bodies movin'. The cootdog project is the name the group assumed with backup vocalist Nikki Sierra. Sierra had obviously earned the respect of cootdog but needed a bit more practice to earn that of the audience. Breathy and stiff, this show demanded more. And by this time the audience was demanding Scapegoat Wax.
James was happy to oblige. Cutting short introductions, armed with a guitar like something out of Weird Science, he started the show with a shout for “rock ‘n’ roll!” While Okeeblow may be the first album to make it to the big time, this crowd knows Scapegoat Wax songs from way back. The floor was packed with kids singing along to tunes they had long grooved to off of Luxurious, the small group’s first small-circulation release. James was backed by Kerry James on bass, Keir Grotcher on guitar, Joel Stites on keyboards and the DJ/vocal talents of “Mr. Dope America.” The room roared as the band ripped through slick songs that got the decibel level up and plenty of smiles on faces.
The current hit “Aisle 10” and “Almost Fine” had the flesh thrashing like Ozzfest. The short and sweet set was over before the crowd knew what hit ’em. Unsatisfied with leaving before the crowd was spent—but out of material—James broke into a solo rap to finish up the show with hometown friends spilling onstage in celebration.
Okeeblow came out on 6/12, so show Scapegoat Wax some of the love they threw your way and pick it up.