Bumbershoot Music Lounge 2011, Sunday: Mad Rad

photos by Jim Bennett

It’s next to impossible to talk about Seattle hip-hop quartet Mad Rad without referencing their more notorious antics (the Seattle Weekly referenced them just last week), but regardless of their on or off-stage high jinks, Mad Rad gets people’s attention.

Whether or not it’s an illusion of danger created by these seemingly sweet, crazy, hip musicians, the group as a whole pushes audiences to the brink of fear, frenzy, and the fantastic. The feeling of loosely contained chaos blended with powerful lyrics, smooth yet detached beats, and an overall punk rock aesthetic make for one helluva show no matter where you place them in your heart or iPod. And Seattle fans have answered their primal call as they have packed themselves to the rafters at every appearance by this band, half to see what’s going to happen next, half just to be a part of it.

You could tell that Mad Rad was overflowing with energy before the set even started — Terry Radjaw was running laps around the stage and Buffalo Madonna was jumping up and down. Keep in mind this was noon on a lazy Sunday. The time of day, along with the overall lack of (physical) energy coming from a small, seated audience indoors did not matter to Mad Rad. This set was played with the energy of a 2am drunk rager — all seven (they added a couple members for this performance) were active for most of the set, theatrically moving in sync at times yet all individually contributing their own emotional, borderline OCD input.

Mad Rad’s lyrics and stage antics are often philosophical in a curious manner, fondly referring to late nights, drugs, death, sex, only living once, and partying. The overall feeling is that it is a conscious way of life, a choice that they have all communally made. Mad Rad’s aura and lyrics are a fairly blatant fuck you to existentialism and all questioning of life’s purpose, replacing this with the simple fact that you will, we will all die sooner or later, so you best make the most of it. It is a carefree and youthful way to live, admirable in a way yet marginally terrifying at the same time — there are limits to what the body, mind and soul can take. Not so for Mad Rad. Some might see this as a submission, a pessimistic outlook on life. I see it as a more realistic point of view on life, one that is liberating, mind-opening and damn fun to watch. Mad Rad perform today at 2:15pm on Fisher Green Stage.

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