Embrace the chaos

James McNew: “Calling Mitch Ritchmond!”

James McNew: “Calling Mitch Ritchmond!”

Generational melting pot: Machine Gun Kelly—it’s what happens when punk rock and hip-hop have a little too much to drink and go home together. It’s kind of like what could have happened if Eyedea had been raised by Mötley Crüe. In other words, not everyone at the Ace of Spades show on May 8 knew exactly what kind of a show they were in for.

The building was packed with a good blend of hippies, bros, angsty anarchist teenagers and tattooed groupies, along with uninformed parents who’d shown up to accompany their kids. It was the kind of melting pot that would have scared the shit out of the forefathers. This is the demographic for which MGK speaks. The is a generation that’s learned to embrace chaos by clinging to the freedom that comes with feeling like there is nothing left to lose.

It is no surprise that MGK incited a mosh pit that got at least two patrons kicked out after some security guards were assaulted. It’s also no surprise that the performer looked as though he suffered what appeared to be, at the very least, a mild sprain to the ankle after stage-diving halfway through his set. Of course, he finished the show.

Toward the end of the set, MGK pulled a young woman onstage. After some banter about checking wristbands because it was an all-ages venue, MGK told her to “pull them out.” And so, the girl lifted her MGK shirt, and the artist proceeded to take his tongue to areola town while simulating masturbation with the microphone.

No, really. It’s on YouTube.

It may sound like a spectacle on paper, but in person, there was a difficult-to-explain casualness to it all. Maybe it’s some sort of mob mentality, but is Machine Gun Kelly just this generation’s Jim Morrison with some 2 Live Crew tendencies? Or did he cross the line?

Most concertgoers appeared unfazed by the performer’s behavior. Most of them, instead, seemed content to turn the tables and condemn parents for bringing their kids to such a show because, well, what do you expect from a 23-year-old East Cleveland kid whose breakout hit is a song titled “Wild Boy”?

In the wake of rapper Danny Brown’s now infamous onstage oral copulation incident (yes, that’s also on YouTube), it is obvious the next generation as a whole is taking performances to a new level. Not just the artists, but the audience members as well. Whether the discussion is about what message this sends the kids or what message the kids are sending us, the new voice of hip-hop definitely knows how to get a conversation started.

— Andrew Bell

Giving props to this little corner of the world: When Hoboken, New Jersey’s Yo La Tengo took the stage at Harlow’s Restaurant & Nightclub on Sunday night, its members needed no reminder as to what city it was playing. Earlier in the day, the band used Facebook to broadcast this plea: “Sacramento: Paging Donnie Jupiter, please come to tonight’s show!” The request was a call to Donald Marquez of Twinkeyz fame—the famed 1970s-era Sac garage-punk band—and possibly a reference to that time YLT covered the band’s “Aliens in Our Midst” at the Cattle Club way back in the 1990s. This time out, the indie-rock trio showed its host region similar respect. Giving a shout-out to the Davis music scene of yore, singer-guitarist Ira Kaplan admitted to treading on unsure ground. “I don’t know how you all feel about UC Davis,” he said, noting that sometimes similar stage moments had resulted in a “Hatfields vs. McCoys” kind of situation. Thankfully, no fights broke out when Kaplan asked if there were “any Suspects in the house”—a reference to Steve Wynn’s early Davis-area band—before launching into a cover from one of Wynn’s other bands, the Dream Syndicate’s “That’s What You Always Say.” A more mysterious local reference, however, occurred earlier in the show during the band’s quiet “opening” set. Can anyone out there confirm if bassist James McNew did indeed dedicate a song to former Sacramento Kings player Mitch Richmond before the band played “Black Flowers”? If so, that just might be the most random, awesomely retro indie-rock-meets-Sac reference ever. OK, maybe not that random—McNew is a noted NBA basketball fan. But still.

— Rachel Leibrock