Andy O. joins The Dedicated Servers for their Release of “Bryan Taylor” at The Neurolux
The first thing that Dave Boutdy and Matt Dixon of The Dedicated Servers told me when I arrived at The Neurolux for their Bryan Taylor album release party was that their set would be a lot more “laid back” than their recent performance at The Shredder. If you keep up with us Earthlings, you know that we were blown away by the amount of energy they brought to that show, so I didn’t know what to expect when they prefaced this performance with that type of comment. Nevertheless, Dave’s natural balance of humility and confidence kept me from dwelling on it too long—one of his natural talents it seems. The
pre-show banter with Dave made me feel like I’d kicked it with the dude before, even though I’d technically never met him until then. That same innate charisma would shine through as the hip-hop duo took the stage to begin their set.
Backlit by projected displays, Matt set the vibe by thanking everybody for coming out to the show, and jumping right into “When the Night Falls”, “Rise”, and “Dead or Dedicated”, tracks fresh off of their latest release. I remember them pumping the latter at the Turquoise Jeep show, and they brought it with the same energy this time, embodying the track’s hook: “you’re either dead or you’re dedicated, there ain’t no in-between, give it your all or fall to your knees.” The beginning of the set was lighthearted enough and mirrored what I had seen before, but what impressed me was the direction and mood that the set took as it progressed.
Now, forgive me for bringing up mainstream rap/hip-hop, but as the show went on, these guys seemed to deviate further and further from any semblance of mainstream convention that I know of. From the moment they started playing the piano-backed and melodic “Just Another Step,” (the beat sounds like something Emancipator could have cooked up) to the delicate but impassioned “Living In Photos”, and on into some of the darker electro-groove tracks like “I Don’t Even Know” and “Split Us Up”. Don’t get me wrong here, that distance from the played-out sounds you hear on the radio is one of the most refreshing things about The Dedicated Servers, and I applaud them for such originality in said deviation, thanks in part to the electro-soundscapes created by local producer Owen Harvey.
The whole last half of the set wasn’t something I just watched, it was something I, and I daresay the rest of the crowd, truly felt. It was an experience. I know that I don’t have much to compare to, not having heard much of these fellas’ music prior, but even sitting here, writing this, listening to Bryan Taylor, I feel like Dave and Matt have infused this music with bits of their souls. “Somebody Help” exhibits both rappers in a more personal light, and while presenting your vulnerable side as an artist can absolutely backfire, it works in The Dedicated Servers favor, drawing the listener closer to both individual emcees in a way that standard industry music’s hollow clichés simply cannot.
The set ended in the same fashion as the CD does, with “Just Perfect”, a song that reminds that through all the bullshit one might go through, there’s always something to appreciate when you wake up and live another day. “The world’s imperfect in a sort-of perfect way,” spits Matt. If their set (and the new CD) is a trip through the ups and downs of the last 10 years of The Dedicated Servers’ career, this capstone track pays homage to those years, and all the good and bad moments that have placed the duo exactly where they are now.
As an encore, Marshall Poole, a local rockabilly band that co-dropped their new album The Misconception on the same night DS dropped Bryan Taylor, got on stage and played a riff while the rappers freestyled to kill the set. After the show I got a chance to meet the real Bryan Taylor, from whom the album derives its name. When asked why they named their latest compilation after him he smiled and told me it was sort of a joke.
“Everybody in our group of friends is mentioned in one of their songs at some point or another,” he said of The Dedicated Servers, “but I hadn’t been yet. So they sort of joked around about naming the whole album after me, and then actually did it.” It’s not a joke without charm, bringing us back around to that charisma that I mentioned before.
Experiencing the energy that these two brought, albeit in a more powerful and sentimental way than at the Turquoise Jeep show, on top of meeting the real Bryan Taylor, made me feel like I had just been shown these artists’ pasts as well as their present, and as if I had experience their art in its entirety. The mark of a true artist is not just showing people what you’ve done, but immersing them in the aura of what you are doing. Matt and Dave did so seamlessly.
“They’ve come a long way since they started,” Taylor told me.
Here’s to them continuing to make good music, and building the Boise hip-hop scene in an artistic and positive way. Keep killin’ it guys.