Play that nerdy rap music, white boy

Art of rap: I saw Milo rap about a year-and-a-half ago at Witch Room (RIP). Back then, I was blown away by his quick, smooth wordplay and charmed by his clear onstage anxiety. The crowd was made up of approximately 20 white dudes who knew all the words to all of Milo’s songs.

That made Milo’s return to Sacramento at the Warehouse Artist Lofts last Friday all the more exciting. How has the crazy-talented, young hip-hop artist grown? He’s put out a new Pitchfork-approved album, So the Flies Don’t Come, and moved from Wisconsin to Los Angeles for music career-related reasons, and then moved back to Wisconsin.

Maybe it was just the chill, friendly rooftop vibes, but Milo seemed at ease, in his element. Maybe it was because he performed with trip-hop artist Randal Bravery, who brought cool, dark, reverb-y sound effects. Four small patio tables and stools were covered with sample pads and the like. Milo showed off his SAT prep vocab and nerdy pop culture knowledge at a rapid-fire pace, referencing philosophers, MLA style, Google algorithms, Michael Pollan, Jon Snow and all things mundane and fantastic. In his Miami Hurricanes track jacket, skinny pants and boots, he also demonstrated his self-awareness and humility: “I don’t even know if I’m dressing right for the rapper I am,” he seemed to say to himself.

“Wow, crazy times on this roof,” Milo later said, acknowledging the crowd, much larger and slightly more diverse than that of Witch Room way back when. “We’re just two beings moving through time and space. Not much. Does anyone know who invented rap music?”


“No one knows. That means I did. Thank you for coming to my seminar,” he said.

The seminar was enlightening. The bars were enlightening. The lines between when the banter ended and the songs began were always blurred, but they were enlightening as well. Whether Milo’s rambling monologues riddled with repetition and alliteration were spontaneous or routine, I do not care.

“We’re in a kind of purgatory. We’re just bards doomed to repeat our words,” he said.

“I’m sorry, I’ve said too much.”

—Janelle Bitker

Madness: Sometimes, a good band can actually give birth to another good band. Such is the case with Hans! and the Hot Mess and Joy and Madness. Hardworking core members Hans Eberbach (vocals) and Miss Nyxi (bass) perform in both, and last Friday at Fox & Goose, they put on a rabble rousing show with Hans! and the Hot Mess, presumably running on nothing but fumes.

That might be because they’d just opened for Ozomatli the night before for Joy and Madness’ CD-release party at the Crest Theatre. On Friday, Eberbach and Nyxi were still quite spry despite their previous late-night gathering. “Half of this band had a little party last night,” Eberbach admitted to the crowd. Their loyal turnout of fans—some of whom probably saw dawn with them—looked none the worse for wear as well.

Eberbach debuted a brand new Fender Telecaster guitar, special for the Hot Mess’ set, providing a more electrically charged sound than ever before. It added a fresh take on songs like “Deep Blue Soul” and “Playin’ It (Like It’s Over),” a tune written by former Sweet Vine bandmate, Nathan Dale. Other highlights included covers of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and Bill Withers’ “Use Me,” which brought down the house with Dave Jensen sitting in on drums.

Hans! and the Hot Mess is not only filled with joy and madness, per se, but they have a one-of-a-kind sound. When digging in with his singer-songwriter roots, Eberbach seems to have a bottomless repertoire, and he and the full-throttled Nyxi kept the energy level high. They made it look easy to be in two inexhaustible bands. No mess about it.

—Derek Kaplan