By Michael Lopez
Taking the stage in his Army of Darkness t-shirt accompanied by Zombie Nation’s hit “Kernkraft 400,” (as heard in your neighborhood sporting arena) Illinois’ own MC Chris welcomed the flood of cheers from his loyal, nerdy fan base.
Chris Ward IV knew just how to get them riled up for his entrance, showing his favorite clips from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead 2 before he took the stage. I knew going into this concert I would encounter a lot of sci-fi themed fanboy antics, so having “Bruce Campbell” (the star of the Evil Dead series) act as the buffer between opener, the 80s obsessor Totally Michael, and Chris made all the sense in the world.
Now, I’m not here to knock nerds, a controversial and impossible to easily define moniker. I believe we are all nerds in our own way, we have a passion for something in our life, whether it be a certain movie, TV series or sports team. MC Chris just so happens to be a zombie, sci-fi and video game nerd, a particular nerd that is pretty easy to define. His fans seem to share his same passions in life, though not necessarily to the same degree he does. On most normal occasions, an artist pausing in between songs to give a seven-minute diatribe about how to properly avoid a zombie attack would baffle and infuriate fans. This was not the case Wednesday night, however, as fans ate up every one of Chris’ stories with a spoon. They swooned over his descriptions of how to properly masturbate to cut-scenes of the video game Metal Gear Solid 4 and his future plans with the Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim (be on the lookout for The MC Chris Show). Hell, he even managed to somehow reference the movie Bye Bye Birdie at one point in the evening.
Chris tries to work in his brand of humor into his shows, and it works perfectly with his rabid fan base. His songs were about Dairy Queen Blizzards, nerdy girls and finding a certain part of the female anatomy by using OnStar. A lot of his material was from his recent release MC Chris Is Dead, but Chris was sure to pack in his hits from previous albums. He relies on his oddball lyrics to carry his show, seeing as it’s just him and his MacBook up on stage, entertaining the crowd. As is commonplace at most of his shows, I imagine, a few lucky fans who were dressed up like zombies got to take the stage with Chris to help him dance during one song. On their way off the stage, the male and female zombie fans proceeded to make out, prompting Chris to evoke a certain image from the video game/movie Silent Hill. It dawned on me at that moment: I finally figured out how Chris’ one-track mind operates. He knows he loves zombies and video games, he’s not pulling any punches and he could hardly care what anybody thinks about it. He just had the audacity to actually be a crafty, witty writer who could turn his obsession into a music career, not to mention his various positions with Adult Swim.
The show was not without its occasional hiccups, like when Chris decided to make an analogy between zombies in the video game Resident Evil 5 and Barack Obama, thus fueling his passion - albeit sarcastic - plea to get McCain elected so we could finally bear witness to a “zombie apocalypse.” Yes, even his political jabs had something to do with zombies. For the most part, fans enjoyed everything there was Chris had to offer. They were not put off by his constant need to take time between his songs to ramble on and effectively kill any momentum he has accumulated. His random musings actually helped gain him momentum due to the fans’ over-enthusiastic reaction to his comedic stylings, such as a debate on purchasing a $500 Lego Millennium Falcon. This particular story put Chris into a more mature, adult light, since he related the experience of pacing back and forth in front of the expensive toy to a married couple unsure about a new car they are about to purchase. But he was able to mask that all behind his ultra-specific brand of sci-fi/zombie humor, and everyone in attendance knew no wiser – that, or they didn’t really mind.
Laptop spazz rocker Totally Michael’s set was also rife with five-minute speeches, but at least his were related to his music. The Bloomington, Indiana native, equipped with his trusty laptop and nothing else, kicked the night off by breezing through a set full of songs from his eponymous debut LP. Michael’s long, almost too long, description of how to properly dance and sing to his quirky song “Cheerleaders vs. Drillteam” was indicative of his set for the night. Michael first explained to the crowd the difference between the cheerleaders and drill team at his high school, painting a picture of how the cheerleaders were constantly full of pep while the drill team waited for their time to entertain (usually half-time of the football game). He then took a poll of the crowd, effectively separating those who were in favor of the cheerleaders to one side of the floor while those fans of the drill team took to the other side. He taught the fans the lyrics of the song so they could sing back and forth at each other, as per the song’s style. The whole mess eventually turned into a dance party with Michael joining the crowd in cutting a dorky, spazzed out rug.
Michael spent quite a healthy amount of time off the stage down on the concert floor, enjoying his own show with those few fans who could find enough rhythm in his music to actually dance, although calling what was going on “dancing” requires very liberal usage. Again, I am not here to knock on nerds, but I would hardly be the first person to notice that some people can’t (and shouldn’t) dance. I really need not be such a grinch about it, those who danced seemed like they were having a blast. Michael ripped through his smash hit “Winona,” and ode to the star of Beetlejuice and Heathers, much to the delight of those fans familiar with the quick, witty tune. Featuring lyrics like “I’m not a high-class retail outlet / But I’d love for you to steal my heart,” who really could resist bopping around in celebration of Ms. Ryder’s highly publicized shopping spree? In the back of my mind, I secretly hoped Michael would close out the night with his raunchy duet “Casual Satisfaction,” and he did not disappoint. Unfortunately, he needed pre-recorded female vocals to accomplish the feat, but the effect was not lost. Michael solidified his ultra-hyper, goofball set by belting out those oh-so blatant lyrics, “Damn girl, you make my dick erect, my dick erect” only to be answered with the appropriate “O-Oh boy, you make my pussy wet, my pussy wet.” Such a sentiment would be lost on most audiences, but Michael has just enough pizzazz and spunk to pull it off, all the while sporting a huge, shit-eating grin.