Sensory Overload: Apocalypse Inc.

Chris DeVille, Columbus Alive

Contrary to popular misconception, "apocalypse" doesn't necessarily mean the end of the world. It means "a revelation" or "a vision." And that's what I experienced last Wednesday.

Colin Garchar, aka MC SinSay, is not shy about blowing me up on Facebook chat, so his group Apocalypse Inc. has been on my radar for a couple of years. Judging from their scrappy recordings, haphazard release schedule and relative lack of hype around town, I always associated them with words like "ambition" and "potential." After seeing their concert last Wednesday at Circus, I'll have to add "talent" to my list of traits.

Garchar personifies a peculiar convergence of tastes. He's a hip-hop head first, a student of the backpackers who prefer lyrics to be thoughtful, artful and technically stunning. He also wilds out to jam bands like String Cheese Incident and digs electronic music enough to approach superstar DJ Pretty Lights about reworking and rapping over his tracks.

That project, "Future Science," wasn't ready for a New Year's Eve release as planned (see what I mean about their release schedule?), but they had a launch party anyway last Wednesday, becoming the first rap group to perform at Circus' weekly dubstep party, Thump.

This was a perfect venue for Apocalypse Inc. The audience was super young. Girls were dancing with glow sticks, and one kid in a Chip Tha Ripper T-shirt kept twirling a hula hoop. The light and video setup was serious. I felt like I was inside an Apocalypse Inc. song even before Garchar climbed atop the speaker cabinet to kick off their rousing 15-minute set.

Though his rapping is merely satisfactory on record, he worked the stage like a pro, spitting rhymes with poise and precision. His charisma pairs well with skills honed through years of persistence.

There was room for improvement. Garchar doesn't need gimmicks like asking the crowd to help him lift an imaginary volume meter through the roof, and while Kito Denham (a.k.a. Mayh3m) contributes solid production in the studio, he has no business rapping on stage. I appreciated guest Danny Cippirone singing a live hook in concept more than in execution.

Still, on balance, I left impressed. Maybe it was just the pretty lights or the Pretty Lights, but Garchar's contagious presence shined, too.