Live Review - The Hood Internet, Little Ruckus, Alientech
The Blue Moose Taphouse, Iowa City, IA - 12.1.12
For several years now, the University of Iowa and our good friends at SCOPE have been putting on a free show to thank those that volunteer around the community. Dubbed the 10,000 Hours show, the groupís hosted such bands as Girl Talk, Ben Folds, and Cake in free shows for anyone that volunteers ten hours of time. This year, SCOPE decided to put on ĎHalfway to 10kí show to boost awareness of the show, and, of course, to throw a dance party.
Up first were local chillwavers / ambient duo Alientech. The groupís laidback approach to music worked well for the start to the relatively early show, providing a glossy wave to wash over those still filing in or buying tallboys in the back. The group seemed barely able to stand up, but their detached aloofness worked well with the fuzzy wash coming through the speakers. While the guys spent most of the time idling in a barely moving opiate haze, they did manage to occasionally shift into a higher gear, getting the dedicated early birds moving and an increasingly large crowd warmed up for a show they would not soon forget.
During our coverage of this yearís 80/35 festival, I had my eyes opened by a number of bands, but no one quite opened my eyes like Little Ruckus did. As noted, I saw the man deliver three outstanding performances in less than twenty-four hours - one at the first nightís after-party at the Vaudeville Mews, his euphoric, water balloon laden set early on in the afternoon, and yet another as the hype man for his brethren in Mumfordís. Part of me had assumed that it would be impossible for the man to replicate the magic of managing to match and exceed the energy of a thoroughly amped festival crowd, and that part is a fool.
Despite having only a few dedicated fans already in the bag at the beginning of the performance, Little Ruckus pulled out all of the stops from the very beginning of the set. Itís safe to say that more than a few people in the crowd were slightly bewildered by the sight of the impish Ruckus clad in spandex pants and his day-glo personified backing crew, but it soon became impossible for even the most jaded of music fans to resist the unitís charms. Within thirty seconds of the set beginning, Little Ruckus was deep in the crowd, preaching face to face with the unconverted with the fiery passion of Baptist preacher.
It might be easy for some of the more cynical out there to be dismissive of Little Ruckus and his uber-positive messages of love, togetherness and confetti. If any of those people were in attendance, though, they wisely kept to themselves. Over his all-too-brief forty-five minutes, Little Ruckus used his hyperactive electropop to bleach out any negativity in the Blue Moose Tap House. He rarely stopped moving, dancing, or doing the splits, and in those instances, he was busy arranging some sort of crowd-unifying stunt like a confetti-storm or having audience members proclaiming love for one another over the PA. Little Ruckus might be some sort of low-grade maniac, but if he is, heís crazy in all the right ways. Not everyone can move the unconverted from standing around like cattle to dancing like itís the end of the world, but Little Ruckus did. I have a feeling this is only the beginning for Little Ruckus, and I canít wait to see what sort of brain-melting insanity comes next.
The Hood Internet have built a sizeable following in Iowa City through constant tour stops, and that crowd was chomping at the bit to get started. The acapella opening to Kanye Westís ďDark FantasyĒ immediately got the lubricated crowd dancing without even providing a beat. By the time the music actually kicked in, the crowd was in the palm of his hand. Hood Internet provided a completely seamless experience throughout all of his mashups, swinging from Kanye West to LCD Soundsystem to M83 to Mayer Hawthorne and countless other artists that would take more space to list than I have here.
That seamlessness is probably the most impressive part of what I saw - in my limited experience with mashup artists / DJs, Iíve noticed that even the most ingenious juxtapositions can be completely ruined by a jarring transition. Thankfully, Hood Internet had none of that and kept the crowd bathed in flashing neon and pitch-perfect mashups long into the night. Between Hood Internet, Alientech, and especially Little Ruckus, SCOPE provided just the right level of sweaty dance party to warm up the winter and get people ready for the 10k show.
Thanks to Mack Sheehy and SCOPE for setting up the show, and thanks to Zak Neumann for the pictures and killing an entire bottle of Andre in less than five minutes, moving the bar on good taste and the boundaries of his own stomach.