buck65small.jpg

Click here for a slideshow . All photos by Michael Alan Goldberg.

Buck 65

November 17, 2007

Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia

Better Than: At the Movies

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Last Night: Buck 65 in Philadelphia

Dropping knowledge and science.

buck65small.jpg

Click here for a slideshow. All photos by Michael Alan Goldberg.

Buck 65

November 17, 2007

Johnny Brenda's, Philadelphia

Better Than: At the Movies with Siskel and Ebert

Note: Buck 65 comes to the Crocodile Cafe on Thursday, Nov. 29

"That song referenced Townes Van Zandt and the Cars," Nova Scotia-born alt-rapper Buck 65 (a.k.a Richard Terfry) told the crowd at Philly hipster bar Johnny Brenda's after one tune. "I'm layin' all my cards on the table." Touring behind his just-released album, Situation, Buck 65 -- plus his DJ, fellow Canadian Skratch Bastid (a.k.a Paul Murphy) -- was crazy fun as he offered up his unique blend of old-school boom-bap, country-blues, and beat-poet kicks, and plowed through a set that fans of MC Shan and Tom Waits would both appreciate.

"I'm the greatest rapper alive," Buck stated repeatedly, his tongue so firmly in his cheek even the best surgeon would have trouble removing it. But when he rhymed, his tongue often twisted in such a way that made a case for him being one of the current greats -- his dexterity was impressive as hell, and so was the tone of his voice, growly/raspy sometimes, smooth and punchy other times. Dude is hysterical, too. At various points between songs he analyzed at length the ending of Taxi Driver, and delivered a side-splitting riff on "Lord Humungus" -- the "bondage-Mussolini" guy, as he recalled, from Road Warrior. Before one tune in which Skratch Bastid chopped up samples of the Cure's "Close to Me," Buck reminisced for a while about the video: "You know, the one where they're trapped in the closet like R. Kelly, except then they go over the cliff." Lifting a scrap of paper close to his glasses, he told the crowd he was going to pay tribute to the poetry of one James Todd Smith the Third, then deadpanned his way through a surreal cover of LL Cool J's "I'm That Type of Guy."

At one point he quickly noted, "Osama Bin Laden was born in 1957. So was Steve Buscemi." A seemingly random thing to say, but then again, Situation is sort of a concept record about the '50s (the first track is titled "1957")-- with character sketches about beat cops, hobos, and girlie photographers and allusions to Allen Ginsberg and Bettie Page -- that links the culture and unease of that era to today. Coupled with older, more personal songs about relationships (women, families, friends) and life on the road, Buck was able to create moody, poignant, quite powerful moments throughout the hour-plus set, but without fail he lightened things up immediately afterward with a goofy dance or a straight-faced "Yeah, we drop knowledge and science." Greatest rapper alive? Dunno about that, but as far as a one-MC-and-one-DJ kinda show goes, this was one of the most entertaining I've ever seen.

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