Nerd rap, before hearing it live, is likely thought of as audible waterboarding. Nothing could be further from the truth after experiencing MC Frontalot, a self-aware and thoroughly fun performer warming crowds up for Wheatus across the world. His presence on stage, the disgruntled geography teacher of years gone by, is as fitting as the thrilling expectations for a man whose appearance provides a Harry Hill meets Eminem fascination. It all plays its part in the Wheatus fun train, and should the party ever stop, it will be because MC Frontalot is no longer in control. His work on stage is a fascinating display of turning novelty topics and basement-dwelling desires into appropriated, cool and sexy themes. Somehow, it works, and it worked on The Welly.
Overcome your desire to feel truly embarrassed, tutting at a man wearing a flashlight, it is all part of the show. There is something to be said for performance art, it is a term slapped onto whatever is on stage which cannot be explained. Out-of-the-box fun from the variable pieces of MC Frontalot is hard to compartmentalise and it makes for a terrifying show in all the right ways. A minor tech issue is expertly manoeuvred around, such is the firm hand of a man so comfortable on stage he chose to wear a cream-coloured shirt. Whether MC Frontalot has made it his mission for crowds to find pleasure in mocking the rather surface-level experience of nerdcore activities is hard to tell, but the speed of which he convinces of its cool nature is chilling.
Because for all the attire gags and notes to be made on the lyrical placements, there is no denying this disarming technique works. MC Frontalot is, of course, a character. But character art and the act of performance in live music is lost a little. Seeing its revival, used as a way of convincing Wheatus stragglers of real quality, is incredible. To be laughed at and then revered is an interesting path to follow, but quick work is made of this set. Challenge Your Audience, a track MC Frontalot once appeared on, demands. It is a code which Damian Hess follows to the letter, flashlight and all. He works it brilliantly, going from laughingstock and in-joke to highlight of the evening in just a half hour. An impressive set is the least of MC Frontalot’s worries, who depends on a few familiar Wheatus faces during his set.
It packs an extra punch when he has the bass guitarist and drummer from the Teenage Dirtbag family behind him. Nowhere do their appearances negate the effect of his performance and routine, the strange songs of computer BDSM and basement-dwelling Dungeons & Dragons playing. There is a familiarity with the topics, a tongue-in-cheek riff on it all and a dedication to getting an audience involved. MC Frontalot is the perfect opener, taking a temperature check of the room occasionally not to gauge how his own performance is going, but whether they are ready for the main event. He may be the opening slot, but MC Frontalot, for how he works the crowd and moves them to the right level of excitement before the headliner, is possibly one of the smartest openers out there.