Show Review: Buck 65, Busdriver, Kristoff Krane at Slim’s, 2/19/2012

by Dakin Hardwick on February 23, 2012

The is how we dance in Canada. (All photos by Kara Murphy)

Canada has had a very difficult relationship with hip hop in the US. It seems that very few acts can break through, despite all the talent that is brewing in our great white north. Aside from Drake, there has yet to be a true superstar to come from the great white north. Which means that such great acts like k-os, K’Naan, and Buck 65 are stuck cris-crossing America, playing small clubs on weekday nights to have full rooms. Which is a shame, because there is so much serious talent coming from our “America’s hat.” On a a cold Sunday night, San Francisco was treated to a performance from Nova Scotia’s Buck 65.

Opening the show was a set by Kristoff Krane. He’s a musician from the midwest that fuses together many different genres of music. He seems to be part of a new genre of hip hop that I have dubbed Sad-Hop. His music was a bit melancholy, but always seemed from the heart. His delivery was reminiscent of local legend Michael Franti. He had no DJ with him, he simply triggered his backing tracks, and also accompanied himself on acoustic guitar. In an effort to conenct to the crowd, he spent a lot of his set from inside the crowd.


Next up was Busdriver. His latest record, Beaus$Eros, is a genius piece of psychedelic, space funk weirdness. It would be impossible to cover all the ground this record does, but he did a fair job pulling it off in person. His flow is fierce and quick. He can rhyme so quickly that it seemed like he was slipping lyrics inside other lyrics. He was also super goofy, randomly throwing out bags of chips into the crowd, and making bizarre cracks about how he’s embedded a pop up ad for Gatorade in the corner of the the stage.

Busdriver and Aesop Rock

In addition to nailing excellent renditions of “Bon Bon Fire,” “Utilitarian Uses Of Love,” and “Kiss Me Back To Life,” we were treated to a very special surprise appearance  by Aesop Rock. They did an amazing version of “Superhand’s Mantra,” where the incredibly charismatic Busdriver may have actually been shown up by Rock.

Buck 65 came out casually. He simply walked on stage, said hello, turned on his beats, and dived into “Legs Like Shotguns.” His flow was perfect, and he danced like, well, a geeky white guy from Canada. He let his limbs go completely loose, and all around, looked like he was having a blast. He jumped between the mic and turntables, sitting down and scratching between verses.

The man is a one man entertainment machine. He doesn’t draw from the same influences as most rappers. There is nothing really tough about him. When he raps about sex, it always seems to be from a nerdy, outsider world. One of his songs simply comprised of dirty subjects in spam. (Yes, it was laugh out loud funny) He did an a capella version of “Heather Nights,” essentially a sweet love song. He did this songs without a beat because it was requested, and he wasn’t prepared to do it. And he got nearly every lyric right without any prep time whatsoever. Solid.

He told a cute story about how “Food Song” kept getting used for actual cooking displays. He even pulled real zombie moves for “Zombie Delight.” He is a great entertainer and put on a killer live show. So, yes, it’s time for a Canadian hip hop invasion.

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