Continuing with 80/35 Week, Little Ruckus plays on July 7 at 1 pm on the Hy-Vee Triathlon Stage
There are two sides to Little Ruckus, and both sides are on display at once. One side is the anarchic, possible cult leader, hell bent on casual destruction and sweaty street dancing. A sort of a dress wearing, sweating pied piper who wants you to live your life as weird and chaotic as possible. The other is the lyrical motivational speaker and possible cult leader who wants you to realize that the life you want to live is the appropriate life, and that life is weird and a-okay. Where the two meet is Tank Girl Vs Cape Girl and the realization of what being a member of the Sandwich Eatin’ Crew means to everyone and what being Little Ruckus means to Dom Rabalais. Buried beneath the incredible beats, the keys and the sweat is an album full of affirmations that YOU are special and that YOU are important. But also, those beats, keys and lyrics are all part of one of the most adventurous and special albums of the year.
I first heard Little Ruckus’ last album, 2011’s We Love Evil, earlier this year and I was immediately blown away. The sound, the attitude, the fun. It was all incredible (Here is my review.) What I took away from the album, though was that while it was a successful album from a sense that it sounded amazing and was easy to connect with, there were still some lingering doubts as to whether or not we were supposed to take this all seriously or not. Were we really to believe that in among the chaos and smashing and such, was there real sentiment involved? Was this just Dom Rabalais playing a character, or was he actually Little Ruckus? At the end of the day I decided I didn’t care and I still don’t. As someone much smarter than me once said, “Bob Dylan’s last name isn’t really Dylan, so who the fuck cares?”
Andrew WK had a lot of those questions about him as well, and honestly I think Andrew WK is a perfect comparison to Little Ruckus. Not musically, although the piano at the beginning of the track “Stay Free” reminds me a lot of Andrew WK and is pretty similar to the piano at the beginning of “Ready To Die” off of I Get Wet. Not close in a rip-off sort of way, just familiar. Almost an homage. But what people have come to realize was that WK wasn’t playing a character so much as he was using his platform to inspire and be creative. That’s what Little Ruckus feels like. It feels like a way to let people know how to live their lives, while also make you dance a whole bunch.
What Tank Girl does successfully is erase any lingering doubts as to the seriousness of it all. There is so much earnestness in among the hypnotizing and dance-able beats that there is no doubt that, yes, every single thing this album has to say is important and honest.
Though the lyrics take a more inspirational slant in Tank Girl, it certainly doesn’t stop being fun. This is still the same sweaty ass Little Ruckus from his prior album. He is still flanked by his ever present Sandwich Eatin’ Crew (S!E!C!) which allows for songs to be not just him, but also the lyrics of Lane Weaver and the vocals and some production from Phil Rabalais (Captain Picard) and Adrien Daller (Slaydrien) from Trouble Lights among other guest stars (Off topic, Shemp Howard and Futon City are such good nicknames to give yourself, as Lane Weaver does on this album) help support the ideas that Little Ruckus spills. The talents of the musicians are on display throughout and especially come to life in “Set My Spirit Free”, “Go Free”, and the surprisingly beautiful instrumental final track “Our Wedding”.
Tank Girl Vs Cape Girl is gorgeous at times, chaotic at others and inspiring always. It is the type of album that maybe tricks people into thinking they are just showing up and having a good time and forces them into much deeper thoughts and steers you towards personal triumphs like self respect and self appreciation. While dancing and yelling, you may just find yourself with the highest self esteem you could’ve ever hoped for. Suddenly, you’re pouring sweat while trying to think of your own S!E!C! nickname. (Incidentally, I am leaning towards calling myself Detective Beans or Hacksaw Jim Duggan, but I haven’t settled on that just yet).
Click the banner image to give the album a listen and maybe spend five dollars and buy it, if you can.