Friday at the Rivoli, a music show with a nerd slant.
Musician Peter Chapman is a self-proclaimed nerd and is pontificating on how the perception of being a nerd has changed over time. “I’ve always considered myself a nerd, and people have always called me a nerd,” says the Durham County composer and hip-hop DJ. (Yeah, you read that correctly.) “Something has happened in the last few years where it’s become not only okay but cool to be a nerd.”
Chapman’s right: in a world where superhero films are de rigueur summer fare and even Disney is cashing in on merchandise proclaiming a love for nerds, it’s hip to be square.
Coincidentally, “Disney-core hip-hop” is a term Chapman coined to describe his more personal work done under the moniker Peter Project. Asked to expand on the seemingly contradictory phrase, he explains: “I sample kids’ records and cheesy Disney records and read-along stories—if you listen to my first album it sounds like a lot of kids’ theme songs mashed up with electronica and hip-hop beats.” Chapman admits he likes to make people laugh and uses the words “goofy,” “silly,” and “quirky” to describe his music, although that didn’t stop him from taking the crown at Sound Battle Royale, Toronto’s first live hip-hop production competition held last October, beating out more than 30 esteemed competitors.
Chapman will show off his nerdier side when he performs at the Rivoli for Nerd-Approved Music (a show we listed in our Fan Expo best bets). When asked what kind of nerds should attend, organizer Shaun Hatton responds: “People who like wrestling. People who like science-fiction and fantasy. People who want to hear raps about Mega Man, GI Joe, Transformers, and daily struggles. People who want to hear a rock song about The Legend of Zelda. People who want to remember how amazing the theme song to the cartoon Droids really was. People who sing along to their video game music. People who like loving. People who like music.” So, nerds, then? In addition to Chapman, the show will also include brentalfloss, an American musician who gained attention through YouTube by singing lyrics over video game themes; local hip-hop artists More or Les and Wordburglar; and rock band Cobra, in which Hatton is lead singer.
The Toronto acts—Chapman, More or Les, Wordburglar, and Cobra—are all friends, and there may end up being a rivalry for who can up the nerd quotient most. Chapman jokes that “being a nerd doesn’t have to be all about liking GI Joe and comics—unless you’re Wordburglar, in which then it’s all about liking GI Joe and comics.” The act with the nerdiest cred of all may end up being Cobra: “We get a comparison that is very surprising but also very flattering: a lot of people say we sound like Sex Bob-omb from the Scott Pilgrim movie,” says Hatton. “When we started the band, the movie hadn’t come out, but they’re supposed to be a band that came out of ’90s Canadian rock and I guess we are too.” He adds, “We’re also inspired by ’70s and ’80s metal.”
For his part, Chapman promises to sneak in something nerdier, such as tracks from his work scoring the PlayStation 3 video game ModNation Racers. “They’re pretty good party jams,” he says. A room full of people dancing to music for a kart-racing game? We approve.