Ear blood & fast raps: clipping. launch West Coast tour

Reta Gasser

All photos by Nate Tiangco

The kick off to the West Coast clipping. tour was a night of music on the brink of dissonance. The moments of ordo ab chao left the audience thirsting for the brief periods when the music took us somewhere comfortable, somewhere we wanted or expected to go. The preponderance of discomfort made those moments of respite all the more precious. In this regard, the show had a distinct dynamism as we, the audience, were pushed and pulled between discord and harmony. clipping., along with tourmates Vankmen and Signor Benedick The Moor, occupied this distinct interstices between loud, industrial, glitchy sounds and the colloquial definition of harmonious “music.” The three groups’ passionate performances demonstrated the tenacity with which these artist’s approach the boundary between musical chaos and order and the way in which they fit into this interstitial space, their sheer energy making their pursuits all the more engaging.

clipping. was the most successful in their flirtation with this narrow boundary between order and chaos. Diggs’ crisp and clean lyricism cuts through Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson’s production with biting precision. The mechanical, abrasive sounds intensify instead of distract from his fluctuating rap speed and cadence. The ease with which Diggs commands the stage and his playful banter with the crowd contrasts starkly with the severity of clipping.’s music.

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During both Signor Benedick and Vankmen’s sets Diggs, Snipes, and Hutson bobbed and swayed to the music as much as the most interested audience members—the three understanding and appreciating the aural harshness of the opening acts. Elk Grove rapper Signor Benedick the Moor’s style contended with clipping.’s, demonstrating why the two were touring together; his production was equally as chaotic and his flow treaded a similarly alternative track. Benedick commanded the crowd from the get-go with his demand for everyone to put their hands in the air and do what he called “hip hop hands” to his frantic burst through the crowd while yelling “fuck you” without a mic.

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Vankmen took the stage in an uproar of industrial noise music that verged on apocalyptic. The Oakland duo ventured into darker depths of dissonant noise music than clipping. dares venture. They refer to their genre of music as “speedcore” which accurately reflects their dark, frenetic style. It deserves praise for somehow managing to incorporate gunshots into every single one of their tracks—these gunshots were not the playful M.I.A. type, but rather dark, scary, distorted death echoes. Shining through their gut-wrenching music, however, was the palpably genuine desire to play with sounds commonly perceived as part the of ugly background noise—a desire clipping.’s work echoes.

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As clipping. took the stage Diggs leaned towards the audience, locked eye contact with people in the front, and asked, “you guys good?” as if to make sure we were all mentally stable and prepared for his oncoming lyrical assault. He slid on his sunglasses—ones he was not wearing as an audience member during the previous two acts. The room is dark and they appropriately began with the first track “Intro” off their new album CLPPNG. The song fit well as a prelude to the album but in person it sounded as if it were specifically written as a jumpstart to their live set. With its cacophonous ending and the line, “It’s clipping. bitch,” the modest yet enthralled crowd roared.

The trio followed with “Inside Out” and “Or Die”, two strong tracks off the new album. Diggs dedicated the next track, one from their first LP midcity. “to the way back fans… of a two year catalog” and chuckled. His lightheartedness shined through despite his heavily lyrical material. “Summertime” came next followed by the crowd favorite, “Work, Work”, a track that quite literally had a couple grinding up on each other next to me. Signor Benedick the Moor joined clipping. on stage for this track that—with its booming bass and minimally jarring composition— makes it probably the most accessible track in their catalog. “Body and Blood” was dedicated to “all the ladies in the room, all seven of them” (note: this estimate was not far off). clipping. closed out their set with T-pain-esque autotune in “Tonight” that went out to “everyone who’s fuckin tonight.”

Throughout the set Diggs wowed the crowd with his impressive ability to manipulate his rapping speed and cadence without compromising the clarity and crispness of his voice. Though evident on the album, the repeated and deliberate changes in flow are even more impressive heard through a blaring sound system that quite literally could not handle the noise level of the performance. The audience was meant to hear the entire show that night at Sacramento’s Witch Room at an ear piercingly loud volume and damn, it sure was LOUD.

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