Ugly Duckling @ Bodega Social Club, Hoodtown 03/11/11

U.G.L.Y. They ain’t got no alibi, they still come hotter than Arizona rooftops!

When Journey to Anywhere first dropped one whole decade ago ‘UD’ (as they wish to be heckled) had already been together since 1993. Kudos then 18 years on to not only have survived but consistently toured our tiny island ever since. Like the west coast’s response to a slightly less Jewish Beastie Boys (having been around the block almost as long), these 3 chum(p)s formed a rap group to dominate the universe with sunshine prose and funky samples galore after sticking it to the fast food joint where they met (either that or getting fired for patenting MEATSHAKES tm).

Only in America...

Surprisingly not opening with classic opener Opening Act their arrival nevertheless achieves the desired effect with much headbob & all arms aloft being swung side to side like the collective spanking of a mischievous chorus girl. Follow-up I Did It Like This opens the doors wide on a rammed party with a legal beats n rhymes induced high.

As testified by frontman Andy Cooper, DJ Young Einstein (he of the gold chain upon which the ladies allegedly got their eye) scratches n samples the finest choice cuts of hand-reared vinyl big beef to make each ounce more satisfyingly tasty to the bounce like some old skool rhythm junkie version of an M&S farmer.

This video is about as close as you can get to being there without licking Einstein’s paws although it’s from their last UK tour 2 years ago:

From here on in I’m transported back in time to a more playfully cheeky and innocent golden age of hip-hop. Pretty much just as I was the 2 previous times I saw UD rock a crowd up at Sheffield’s Tuesday Club & Plug. Wherever the venue, however the weather, these Cali boys lay on a straight up in yo grillpan full phat flavoured vintage classic show with several comedic interludes and set pieces. The best example of which must undoubtedly be Pick Up Lines when Andy & Dizzy force a poor young and dangerously unsuspecting lady onstage then each try a corny come-on only for Einstein to scoop up the missus’s riches as it were – pure panto!

New title track Movin at Breakneck Speed begins with a characteristically addictive intro chant before which they claim to have been touring since 1986 (must have understanding wives). Or if classic cut A Little Samba is to be believed their mama’s must be very worried by now. And who’s feeding those 2 pet sharks?

To play a sweaty, heaving glorified janitor’s closet of a club midweek to over a hundred beat-heads going more berserk than a climbing frame full of otters is no small feat in the current gig climate. But then a group’s live rep gets carried far & wide over time and these guys have certainly surpassed the mileage of most dedicated rap fiends still kickin’ it. UD’s love & respect for their fanbase keeps them blazing bright long after the raw energy of lesser acts would’ve dimmed from view.

I’ll leave the final word to the bros themselves. Vital life lesson this one:

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