Gym Class Heroes rock the lake

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April 4, 2008

3:13 AM

Though it was cool last Wednesday night, hot music blazed at the Lake Matoaka Amphitheater for a UCAB concert featuring Tyga, KidZ in the Hall, I Am the Avalanche and the main act, Gym Class Heroes. With a pure blend of hip-hop and rock, the evening was marked by charismatic flows, thrashing guitar licks and screaming crowd members. Although the doors opened at 6 p.m., a large portion of the audience did not arrive until halfway through the show. Two die-hard fans of Gym Class Heroes, Mary Anna Rodabaugh ’10, and Reba Buda ’11, had been waiting since 4:30 p.m. to catch front row seats.

“I thought people were going to be lined up outside, but there is no one here,” Rodabaugh said.

As students and other concert-goers trickled in, the first performer to take the stage was young emcee and cousin of Travis McCoy (Gym Class Heroes), Tyga. The tattooed 18-year-old quickly moved the crowd with a cover of Britney Spears’ “Gimme More,” using rhymes of his own to describe money-grubbing techniques. Although there were barely enough people to fill half of the concert space, Tyga and his hype man still invited the crowd up to the front of the amphitheater.

“Everyone needs to come up,” he said, as a small crowd encased the stage.

The California native rocked back and forth across the stage, delivering swift and animated lyrics that the crowd enjoyed. Breaking into another cover, “Hey There Delilah” by the Plain White T’s, Tyga spotted a female in the crowd to dedicate the song to.

“See, this is what you did to me.”

Tyga has an impressive resume: He has collaborated with Fall Out Boy, Gym Class Heroes and Lil’ Wayne and is signed to Pete Wentz’s (Fall Out Boy) label, Decaydance Records. His solo project,

“No Introduction,” will be released June 10.

The second act was hip-hop duo KidZ in the Hall. Consisting of MC Naledge (pronounced Knowledge) and producer/DJ Double-O, this group brought up-tempo hits and creative beats to the stage, maintaining the crowd’s hype. From the duo’s continuous calls,

“Pump your fists in the air … Put ya hands in the sky and rock with me,” to their featured guest who sported a curly Mohawk and a keytar to match, their strong chemistry and Chi-town sound lit the crowd.

“You’re coming to a party, not a show. We do that real hip-hop,” Naledge proclaimed.

DJ Double-O swerved in and out of hip-hop and club jams, starting with Timbaland’s recent hit, “Way I Are.”
With Naledge’s smooth, metaphoric rhymes over Double O’s pulsating, crafty loops, their delivery of their last song and first single off their second album, “The In Crowd,” “Drivin’ Down the Block,” had the crowd members waving their hands left to right, and Naledge breaking out into a two-step.

The next act, I Am the Avalanche, strayed from the hip-hop scene.
“We don’t play hip-hop music,” Lead singer Vinnie Caruana said.
The crowd didn’t seem to mind. I Am the Avalanche broke out the heavy drums and guitars to bring some shock value and ear-splitting screams to the crowd.

“Get up and come on over,” Caruana told the audience as he broke out into the band’s first song, “The Brooklyn Dodgers.”
The indie rock band is composed of 5 members: guitarists Michael Ireland and Brandon Swanson, bassist Kellen Robson, drummer Brett “Ratt” Romnes and singer Caruana. With an emo/punk sound, these rockers brought a certain edge to the concert.

“William and Mary — this is a school I couldn’t get into. This is real,” Caruana joked.

Their set ended with the lead singer reaching out to the crowd, the guitarists jumping off the drum set and the drummer throwing his drum sticks into the crowd — a perfect rock finish.
By 9 p.m., the crowd had become delirious with excitement for Gym Class Heroes. The band’s drummer, Matt McGinley, was the first to appear. Pumping the audience up with his peppermint-swirled drum set, McGinley boosted the crowd’s anticipation with a faux start. Then, the rest of the band — guitarist Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, bassist Eric Roberts and a background hype-man — took their places on stage as the audience awaited the arrival of theatrical charmer and lead singer Travis McCoy.

“We came here to have sex with your ear vaginas,” McCoy said as he emerged.

The band began its set with the song, “Shoot Down the Stars.”
“I want to apologize for not coming here sooner to West Virginia,” McCoy erred, missing a few points with the crowd for mixing up the states. He was quickly forgiven, though, when he showed off a song from their new album, “The Quilt” called “Blinded by the Sun.”

An up-tempo, rock-steady vibe surrounded the amphitheater as McCoy borrowed and switched up the hook from Corey Hart’s hit “Sunglasses At Night,” to rhyme: “I wear my sunglasses at night / to spy on my girlfriend.”

With its third album scheduled for a June release, Gym Class Heroes has come a long way since its start in Geneva, N.Y.
The band has formulated a modern twist on rap-rock fusion, clearly influenced by artists like Run DMC and Rage Against the Machine. Where Gym Class Heroes maintains its originality is in the band’s clever, witty approach to its lyrics, mostly written by McCoy, and its lively instrumentation.

The band’s performance on stage was noteworthy, as the funny and flirtatious paramour McCoy kept the girls reaching for their zippers, and the guys ready to grab a few tips on dating, music or otherwise, from the rest of the crew.

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