The Underground was abnormally packed for a Wednesday evening at 1 a.m. when local hip-hop crew Idiolectic Conception finally took the stage at their CD release party last week. Hoodies, studded leather, denim and nylon rubbed together as heads from all-conceivable musical allegiances crowded the pit and dangled over the rail to figure out why a drum kit was being assembled in the middle of the floor.
Local Underground regulars F.O.S. and Accumen along with DJ Astro from Fort Collins had primed the crowd with two turntables and the microphone, but the drum kit -- followed by a guitar, bass, several amps and a few of the guys from the local rock outfit Laymen Terms -- had created a tangible anticipation.
The members of Idiolectic Conception -- Charlie Barr (Lucid), Dustin Hansen (Observe), Clint Schnurrenberger (Know Idea), Joel Aigner (Article Exit), Will Boddington (Streetpole), and Johnny Childress (Spoken Intellekt) -- elbowed out some standing room as Jameson, the drummer, started banging out a steady clip of a beat. And ...
Shazam! The whole bubble of build-up burst into "The Corridor," the first track on Idiolectic's new CD Ethos. Goosebumps spread, and the whole room was bouncing along as the group's lyrical onslaught churned out more syllables per second than Joni Mitchell on crank.
Something sublime was happening. The live sound and energy drove the show like a first date, and everyone was feeling the crush.
The word "idiolectic" is a perfect fit for this crew of North End kids who have known each other since they went to Palmer High School and began making music in 1999. Meaning "the dialect of an individual," or "a linguistic pattern unique among speakers of his language or dialect," it perfectly describes what brings them together: a sound and style unified by locale, friendship, a love of truth and ideas, and overall desire to do something positive.
And it's no wonder the crowd at the Underground there to support them was so diverse. Entirely self-produced, Idiolectic carries the torch of DIY punk and indie rock while forging a place for themselves in the new underground hip-hop that has also cross-pollinated with electronic music.
Along with Ethos, Idiolectic also released an amazingly inspired and cogent compilation of largely improvised and uncollected material called Deeprest.
I spoke to Charlie Barr (Lucid) about their latest efforts.
Indy: What brought you guys together and what were your influences?
Charlie Barr: It's hard to say because Clint and Will were always into punk and hard-core stuff, and I was always into hip-hop and a lot of other stuff. But I think they were open enough to realize a punk song and a hip-hop song may sound so different, but when you get down to it, the messages that are being spoken are really close together. At least that's a lot of what's going on now. It's a culmination of not just hip-hop, but kids who like indie rock and punk and electronica. The crowds we're searching for aren't just kids in Fubu. It's just real eclectic, which in itself speaks to what we're all into.
Indy: It seems like any one band that's self-producing their own material is going to find an audience with the DIY and underground crowds.
Barr: Yeah, there's a lot of the same basis in what punk and hip-hop were spawned out of, and it drives me crazy when kids don't realize that and they get so divided by genre and what music you're into. But I think that being able to do stuff like work with Laymen Terms and integrate a live feeling into [the shows] will help bring other people in that wouldn't normally be interested. That's what I'm after.
Indy: How did that show come about?
Barr: When it comes to hip-hop shows in general, people don't expect [live music], so that automatically makes it a certain degree better with the amount of energy it creates. People are usually just head-noddin'. But when there are kids jumping around and screaming, it's a whole other level.
Indy: Tell me about the political consciousness in your songs.
Barr: I don't know exactly what it would be other than what's going on in our age group -- just being in this world we live in. I don't actually have too many things that motivate me politically other than living in Colorado Springs. And a lot of the music and art I'm into has raised my consciousness and opened things up to me that I wouldn't have ever known about.
Indy: What are your thoughts on the music scene right now here in Colorado Springs?
Barr: The scene in this town has always seemed like it was gaining momentum and then it would kind of drift off again. If people were to realize that there's a strong base here, then I think they would stick around. There's not too much for youth -- a consistent place for them to see good shows. There's so many kids here doing stuff, but there's so few who are actually out there trying to get recognized ... I really like Colorado Springs. Every time I've left I've felt the need to come back here. There's not too much here, but there's something about this place. It's magnetic.