D12 at 9:30
Imagine the Police without Sting, Evanescence minus Amy Lee or ZZ Top sans, well, one of the bearded guys. A popular band missing its superstar isn't typically something folks clamor to see. Not so with Detroit rap group D12, which attracted a good-sized crowd Monday to the 9:30 club without frontman Eminem, who has yet to join his pals on their current tour.
Hopes of an Eminem sighting were quickly dashed, but the five rhymers from D12 didn't dwell on it for a moment, instead soaking up solo time in an hour of utterly sophomoric but comical rhymes. They included their MTV smash "My Band," a tune poking fun at how Eminem's popularity dwarfs that of the rest of D12.
But the crew neatly neglected many of Eminem's verses. There were boatloads of couplets about firearms, booze, sex and popping purple pills. "Pistol Pistol" played into the thuggish talk with expletive-filled verses from Proof, the most accomplished rapper onstage. Bizarre, the super-size MC with a tumultuous tummy, wore a furry pink jacket and his trademark shower cap as he rolled through "Just Like U." After spitting line after line of some of the most repugnant rap in recent memory, he acknowledged some probably wouldn't dig it.
"When Mos Def hear this, he probably gonna suffocate me," he deadpanned.
Bizarre also riffed on what transpired when rapper 50 Cent offered some career advice. "50 told me to do sit-ups to get buff," he rhymed. "Did 21/2 and couldn't get up."
-- Craig Smith
David Grubbs at Black Cat
As a finger-picking guitarist who performs songs with titles like "Family Plot, Mayfield, Kentucky," David Grubbs is heir to the Appalachian folk tradition. Yet the Chicago-based musician is also a punk-rock veteran with connections to contemporary composers as diverse as Tony Conrad and Luc Ferrari. Grubbs's latest album, "A Guess at the Riddle," downplays his experimental interests, and so did his performance Monday night at the Black Cat. Still, it wasn't exactly a hootenanny.
Grubbs played only acoustic guitar and was accompanied by just one of the players who appear on "A Guess," cellist Nikos Veliotis. Listeners sat on the floor for the quiet music, which competed with the sound of a jukebox in the adjacent room.
On "One Way Out of the Maze" and "Knight Errant," the cello's sustained tones contrasted with the guitar's staccato notes, and the versatile Veliotis was the star of several long instrumental passages. The contrast was piquant, but this meeting of American Gothic and European avant-garde barely hinted at the range of Grubbs's recordings.
He was preceded by Manishevitz, a Chicago quintet that added saxophone and flute to standard indie rock. If its goal was to be distinctive, the band fell short. When not sounding like Roxy Music or the Velvet Underground, Manishevitz was covering the Soft Boys.
-- Mark Jenkins