Here's a poorly kept secret: live hip-hop shows are pretty terrible. Over-bassed sound. Hands predictably extolled to wave like they just don't care. More hyperbolic posturing than audience-engaging performance. That goes for up-and-comers and veterans, especially the veterans. I'm looking at you, 50 Cent.


Judging from Mad Rad's collection of live YouTube videos, the Seattle foursome looks to buck that trend with vigorous vocal performances of party-in-the-U.S.A., radio-ready jamz. Watching the videos, it's easy to see that these cats work the crowd hard, assiduously passing the mic and punctuating whip-snap raps with live drums. The only time I've seen more mugging for the camera is in ancient Bill Cosby Pudding Pop™ spots. P Smoov's production is in clear contrast to the kinetic rhymes, featuring a mellow, modern electronica and chilled out beats. Oh, and a spot of cello, because I swear, in 2011 even grindcore bands gotsta have cello.

This synthesis of sound has a lot in common with good music, just not quite. The brosephs from Mad Rad seem poised to move on and be something other than a milquetoast party crew.

Mad Rad plays the Palace Thursday, May 18, at 9 PM. $5.


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