For listeners taking in the menacing groove and Eric Blair's liquid flow, it's easy to overlook an important component of No Bird Sing's music: They play hip hop without a bassist or DJ. For this local trio, defying convention has made them one of the area's most prominent up-and-coming acts. Case in point: MC Blair eschews typical hip-hop self-aggrandizement in favor of an honest, plain-spoken rapping style that owes more to contemporary literature and a healthy regimen of NPR than it does to the posturing of his musical forebears. Guitarist Robert Mulrennan and drummer Graham O'Brien (of Hyder Ali and Abzorbr) lock together with distorted, jazzy melodies and broken rhythms to create a dense, organic sound that rewards repeated listens. Breaking free of the genre's most insistent clichés, No Bird Sing's unique brand of roots-based hip hop will be complemented by avant-garde vocalist Aby Wolf, folk duo Peter Wolf Crier, and singer-songwriter Bethany Larson, who will be releasing her debut album at tonight's show.
Fri., Dec. 11, 9 p.m., 2009