[ATTENDED: March 4, 2017] clipping.
I first heard clipping. on All Songs Considered about a month ago. The song was noisy and brash and vulgar and featured incredible rapping from a voice that I recognized but couldn’t place. Then they told us that the rapper was Daveed Diggs who was Thomas Jefferson and the Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton. He won a Tony for the role(s). And now here he was fronting this band of experimental glitch-hop. And there he was just a few dozen feet from us.
I love the Fillmore, but it’s one of the few venues that we don’t ever seem to be able to get very close to the stage for. I guess the artists are a little more popular (and tend to sell out) so there’s less wiggle room at some of the other shows. So we were further back than I would have liked. But we could still fully absorb the spectacle.
Clipping are not exactly the kind of band I’d pair with The Flaming Lips (who sing about rainbows and love and whatnot). And indeed, the contrast was pretty stark. But the Lips have a crazy stage set-up and it seemed to work perfectly with the kind of static and noise that Clipping creates. And I’m sure they loved being able to hook into the Lips’ wall of video screens behind them.
Lest this seem like a vanity project for Diggs, producers William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes [Snipes is a sound designer, film composer, and experimental musician who records glitchy, snarky pop-deconstructionist noise music under the name Captain Ahab; Snipes and Hutson are also in the noise band Unnecessary Surgery] are the forces behind all of the music. The group began in 2009 as a remix project, with Hutson and Snipes taking a cappellas of mainstream rap artists and making power electronics and noise remixes of them to amuse themselves. Diggs joined in 2010 and began to write his own raps over their compositions. By the way, if we can trust Wikipedia, Diggs and Hutson met in grade school, and Hutson and Snipes were college roommates. And for the record, Hamilton premiered in Jan 2015.
But enough background. The show began with a lot of static and Diggs’ welcoming us and then they got down to it. Their albums are chock full of noise–serious noise–static, ear piercing feedback, static, gun shots, static, space sounds, static you get the picture. In fact, much of their music doesn’t even have a beat or a melody–except that supplied by Diggs. But Diggs is a pro (he won a Grammy for Hamilton as well), and I find that he makes this mix work really well–he knows how to take oblique noise and put a compelling melody to it.
But Diggs is funny and very charismatic, even from a distance. And the crowd was largely into it (one guy near me clearly was not, but everyone else seemed to enjoy it a lot).
The show began with “Inside Out.” Then he got us all to sing the easy refrain of Shooter (when I say Shooter, you say Shooter). I love the way “Shooter” is constructed–the way each line ends with a pause and then a final word that reflects back on the rest of the line:
Solider’s eyes playin’ tricks, sandwich
Need to get more info, bandwidth
Bunch of signs there to read, pamphlets
But that was not to be, Hamlet
Enemy jumped on his back, monkey
Wasn’t leavin’ no scraps, junkie
He was wavin’ his hands, krumping
Whole body like soup, dumplings
“The Breach” is an amazing example of where he raps so incredibly quickly it’s hard to believe the words can be understood. And I loved how the song ended with a siren going off. This song is part of their new album, which is a concept album about being lost in space.
“Air ‘Em Out” has a sung chorus (you can hear the Hamilton there). “Baby Don’t Sleep” is incredibly dynamic with intense nose (the opening music is rhythmic series of noises: crunching sounds, rumbling sounds and feedback squalls). But that noise is accompanied by whispered moments (“Baby Don’t Sleep”). “Wriggle” is dancey and a lot of fun (Wriggle: Like a snake, boy, like an eel, girl). It samples “Wriggle Like a Fucking Eel” by Whitehouse. “Body & Blood” has a chorus that comes from a deep voice stating the title.
Before their set ended he said Y’all look like you’re ready for The Flaming Lips, well, there’s no way you can be prepared for this show, its tripping. And then he said that they’d be going soon, but first he wanted to tell us a Story. And indeed, the last two songs were called “Story” and “Story 2.” They come from different albums but flowed perfectly together. There’s an official video for “Story 2” which they projected behind them. It featured a guy believing something bad was happening at his home and running home to find out the truth. The way the story and music built in intensity was just fantastic.
I found the whole show exhausting both aurally and physically. I feel like I’m lucky it was only about 40 minutes. But I’m really glad I got to experience it.
I can’t confirm the setlist but this seems pretty right on:
Air ‘Em Out
Baby Don’t Sleep
Body & Blood