Up until last week, if you’d asked me what the worst live performance I’d ever seen was, I’d probably mention Crisco Kids. It was spring of ’97, my band was playing a gazebo in a city park in Little Rock and they were on the bill. Actually, saying they were “on the bill” is a bit of a stretch. The gazebo was basically fair game to city punks. You just showed up and played whenever you felt like it. There was no promoter, no rules. Crisco Kids were three brothers with devil-locks and Misfits face paint. The youngest brother was the guitarist and vocalist. I’d put his age at around ten. The eldest brother was the drummer. I’d wager he was old enough to drive. Their sound was like The Shaggs fronted by a prepubescent Chris Barnes from Cannibal Corpse. I watched the whole set, minus the occasional moment where I had to excuse myself to laugh hysterically behind a tree.
There are some other close contenders: that band of Jack White-imposters we played with in Poland that sounded like Joy Division with all their fingers broken, that grunge cover band in Italy that obviously didn’t know a lick of English and approximated the words to hits by Smashing Pumpkins and Nirvana, that weird pagan-goth band with the drummer in the Hawaiian shirt and the electronic drumkit I saw in Puyallup back in high school. But the one consistent factor with all these bands is that they were hard to not watch. Mediocre bands aren’t memorable or interesting. But truly awful artists are still inadvertently entertaining. Just look at brokenCYDE, Design The Skyline, or Rebecca Black. On Thurday, however, I was exposed to a whole new brand of awful, one without any redeeming qualities...
I didn’t know much about MellowHype other than that they were affiliated with the Odd Future crew. Their performance at Chop Suey consisted of two MCs and a laptop. I’ve already ranted against acts that just hit play, but MellowHype revealed a new pitfall of this half-assed musical trend. Specifically, a trainwreck performance with backing tracks isn’t nearly as entertaining as a trainwreck performance by a live band. The sequencing had more-than-adequate amount of thumping bass, crisp treble, and warm mids. The computer was obviously on-point. But the MCs seemed too stoned to keep up with the tempo. They mumbled their way through the songs, rarely locking into the groove and obviously not knowing the first thing about holding a microphone in a manner that allowed their words to be articulate instead of just a muffled mess. There was zero flow to their rhymes. And even their tracks seemed to start and end abruptly. At multiple points during their set I thought their laptop crashed, though I think they were just hitting ‘stop’ before the tracks actually ended. They would start a song, have a change of heart, then start another song. They obviously didn’t have a set list, as one MC routinely asked his partner what they should play next. At one point, they even proclaimed “setlists are for faggots.” I can’t really argue with that; I like bands to actually be prepared AND I like sucking cock. The awkward gaps where one-half of MellowHype scrolled through his song library provided plenty of opportunities for the other half to talk about how much they love weed. Bold move, dude. Do you love beer too? What are your thoughts on pizza? Then they’d launch into another song and mumble their way through two or three minutes of it until one of them walked over and hit stop.
Crisco Kids couldn’t play their instruments. As a result, it was funny. Charming, even. They definitely sounded worse than MellowHype, but they at least brought me some joy. MellowHype’s laptop sounded great, minus the awkward stops and starts. But the amount of attitude and ego coming from the two completely unprepared and untalented MCs was nothing but aggravating. There are no redeeming qualities to a bad show of pre-recorded music. The backing tracks will always be boringly consistent, and the artists merely muck up the music.