We invited guest writer Adam Weiss to review Michael Nhat’s record release show, as he’s the scene’s token expert on Hipsters Who Heart Hip Hop.
Michael Nhat’s record release show for his Swimming to Cambodia album at the Echo Curio was set to start at 8pm. I didn’t arrive until closer to 9pm, but much to my luck the show hadn’t started yet. A few people awkwardly stood around the front of the art gallery located on Sunset Blvd when suddenly more people started pouring in including a lot of the local music scene’s mainstays, such as Andrew Felix, Walter Gross, Kid Infinity and more. Then the man of the hour, Michael Nhat, showed up in am all black fitted suit which paid tribute to his side project, We Dress Good. I couldn’t stop thinking that his suit resembled what you’d be buried in when you die. To me, this also paid homage to the dark nature of his new record.
First up was experimental noise musician Tik///Tik who I had previously never seen play. Tik///Tik was just one dude with a sampler and some synthesizers who made “harsh pop” music. There was a definite emotional intensity and vulnerability to the music that I found very charming and couldn’t help but connect with.
Second on the bill was the always impressive Pizza!. As soon as they started, the crowd was dancing and moving along to the chops. What I like most about Pizza! is that the music is not only fun, but the context in which singer Geoff delivers the lyrics is intelligent with an underlining air of sarcasm and humor. After their set I could really feel the gratification throughout the entire Echo Curio.
Up next was 3 piece spaced-out synth pop group, Halloween Swim Team. Again, this is a band that also NEVER disappoints. Everyone’s heads were bobbing and feet were tapping to the heavy analog beats and bugged out vintage synth sounds. It’s impossible to not be completely captivated by the intensity of their live show.
Then finally the man himself! Hipsters Who Heart Hip Hop favorite and avant garde rap hero, Mr. Michael Nhat, took the floor. He was in very good spirits, more so than I had ever seen him. After a humorous introduction to the packed room, Nhat went right into his new material off the Swimming to Cambodia album. Unlike his debut record, these songs weren’t as upbeat with fun keyboard, but much darker and very self confessional with songs such as “Dancing with a Girl Named Satan.” In true Michael Nhat charm, he read the lyrics off the back of random pieces of scrap paper. What has always impressed me about Nhat is his vocal projection and, although Nhat doesn’t considers himself traditional “hip hop,” in the spirit of the true art of MCing, he definitely knows how to control the mic. He also invited friends Liz Bomb and Barrie Rose to join him for songs and then for his last song of the evening, Andrew Felix joined him on stage. Then before Nhat had a chance to turn off his CD player, the instrumental for “Everyone knows Werewolves Kill” came on and the crowd begged for more. Michael Nhat gave it to them, then when the beat for “Heres a Mop to Clean the Floor” came on, Nhat couldn’t stop as 6 girls rushed up to him and started dancing as he rapped. But Michael Nhat wouldn’t wrap up the show until giving the crowd one last gem in the form of “Were Learning to Walk Through Walls.” By the end of Michael’s set, you became very aware that this wasn’t just a record release show, but indeed a record release P-A-R-T-Y!
—Adam Weiss (Hipsters Who Heart Hip Hop)