Hangar 18 & Gym Class Heroes @ The Boardwalk, Orangevale, CA
written by Megan Biss, October 2nd, 2006
First of all, it was nice to not have to drive 100 miles to San Francisco to catch a hip hop show and I commend whoever wrangled a stop for Sacramento. The venue is hidden away in a tiny suburb 20 miles from downtown and when The Boardwalk says a show begins at 8:00pm, they aren't kidding. By the time I got there at 8:25pm, I had missed the opening act and Hangar 18 was into their second song. Honestly, whoever heard of a show starting on time?
I walked in on Hangar 18 at full tilt. The room had enough live bodies in it to allow for immediate jacket removal, which is saying something for an opening act. Usually, opening acts must perform to a room half full of people who are more interested in drinking beer and checking eachother out than watching. Not so on this night. People were crowded up front, dancing, and at one point, screaming things like "I want ass crack!" to which Alaska replied "I will let you lick mine later." The stage was sparse, members Alaska (AKA Tim) and WindnBreeze (AKA Ian) had nothing to fall back on but their impeccably phrased jokes and buoyant live presence.
The set had two standouts. One of them wasn't a song at all, but rather Hangar 18's guide to the seven bases of foreplay. If you thought there were four, you were wrong. This is the world of dating according to some Def Jukies who probably get more chicks than you do, so take note:
1. Eye contact
2. Dancing from a distance.
3. Soaking (in a hot tub, I presume).
4. The Popcorn Trick (if you don't know what the Popcorn Trick is, see corresponding Hangar 18 interview)
6. Bible study
7. Finger f**king
Standout #2 was "Baking Soda." Not only is it one of the most uplifting songs about crack ever written, WindnBreeze does an incredibly hot dance number at the end. I thought nothing could top "Baking Soda" (besides Ian throwing jazz hands into his dance routine) but for the closing song they rapped over an instrumental version of Guns n' Roses "Welcome to the Jungle." This wasn't some tired mash-up shit either. It was hard, fast, and energetic. The crowd was sorry to see them go but I think next time around we'll see Hangar 18 getting more stage time as a headliner.
The second band was not Cobra Starship, as the bill had promised. No matter, their replacement EndeverafteR was just as good. As they were setting up I couldn't help but ruminate on their clothes and hair, which were that 1970s long-haired rocker, Cobrasnake kind of thing. Their bellbottoms-no-shirt-open-jacket outfits were a step up from the irony that plagues modern fashion. And they've all got killer abs.
Before the first song was over, I had forgotten all about the clothing (but not the abs). EndeverafteR plays well written, straight up rock music. It is the kind of music that begs to be performed live and peppered with showy guitar solos (of which there were a few). Songs like "Baby Baby Baby" and "Next Best Thing" made me yearn for the simple, solid songwriting of yesteryear. Remember the songs that never failed to turn a car full of anybody into a horrible rock n' roll sing-a-long? I dare you not to fully blast "Livin' on a Prayer," it ain't gonna happen. EndeverafteR was so good at this they inspired me to come up with one of those "So-and-so called, they want their blank back" jokes. In this case, it was "Poison called, they want their well crafted, kick ass power ballad back." Except Poison had to leave a voicemail, because I was too busy scribbling lame jokes and holding up my lighter with the rest of the crowd.
Earlier I had been slightly puzzled by the crowd. I haven't seen that many cute, possibly underage girls at a hip hop show since the Atmosphere's Sevens Travels tour. And then the headliners, Gym Class Heroes, walked onstage and all curiosity was laid to rest. Each and every one of them is well, incredibly adorable. (I think just felt a few brain cells die.) Guys, showing up at a Gym Class Heroes show with Hangar 18's Seven Bases of Foreplay committed to memory could be a recipe for success. At the very least, there won't be a shortage of chicks to try them on.
So the Gym Class Heroes are sort of hip hop but not. When performing live they've got a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, drummer and backup vocalist. Is it rap rock? Is it not? We'll just go with what their Myspace profile lists: "Indie/Hip Hop."
Lead singer Travis McCoy was sporting a full set of gold grills, which looked like braces and (I'm happy to report) did not impede his ability to tell the crowd, "Each and every one of you motherfuckers is sexy as fuck and I don't care what anyone else tells you." He was also able to stop a near-fight in the audience with "I don't give a fuck, fucking shake hands." All this while a continuous stream of flashbulbs lit up his gold mouth like the 4th of July. Impressive.
They opened with "The Queen & I," closed with "Cupid's Chokehold" and as an encore, performed a cover of the Red Hot Chili Peppers megahit "Under The Bridge." In between were songs were from 2005's The Papercut Chronicles and this year's As Cruel As Schoolchildren. Any onstage downtime was met with the sounds of female appreciation and every song was a sing-a-long. Live, this band is a total crowd-pleaser. I showed up not knowing anything about the Gym Class Heroes and left a fan.