It's easy to tell the Niceguys really like each other. The three MCs and one DJ seemed to be Houston's more buzzed-about bands coming into the festival. Besides their spot on the SXSW Next Stage at the Austin Convention Center Wednesday afternoon, they were one of three Houston SXSW acts (with Grandfather Child and the Tontons) featured in the regional edition of The New York Times last Sunday.
Bun B and Paul Wall also recently let the Niceguys open their Texas shows on the Red Bull New Skool tour, and if the self-proclaimed "Supreme Team" can keep from goofing on each other too much, they might really be onto something. The Niceguys spent a good deal of their 30-minute set Wednesday batting beach balls at each other and the audience, gyrating with guest R&B crooner Jack Freeman, and getting sprayed with silly string, and mostly making it very difficult to keep MCs Christolph, Yves and Free in the same camera frame.
All of them were so excited it was difficult for Yves to keep a straight face. He probably has the quickest flow of the three, although Free is pretty close. The Niceguys are big on unison, favoring all rapping at once instead of trading verses and stage choreography that sometimes suggested it's difficult for the guys to keep from jumping out of their own skin, like when they broke into the Isley Brothers' "Shout" near the end.
Credit DJ Candlestick for the frenetic pace. Building big tracks from big bass, some uptempo soul for Freeman's number, a little G-funk and not much else, the fourth Niceguy might turn out to be the real ace in the hole.
As for their rhymes, the Niceguys stay mostly stay positive - as you might expect - daring to dream champagne dreams on songs like "Overtoast" (from their upcoming second album, James Kelly).
Although stray lines like "get off my dick, get off my balls" suggested sometimes even nice guys can get a chip on their shoulders, it was obvious they were enjoying themselves, and the energy was contagious even in the middle of a florescent-lit hangar-like venue like the tradeshow hall.
They had to, to keep up with their Dallas friends ADD. The fleet of tongue duo performed an equally spirited set full of congenial rhymes about partying, pouring up and not always remembering the night before, pausing only for a few harsh verses for anyone who doubts their skills.
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Then again, it's really hard to focus on any negativity when there's a dancing cow and human taco onstage.