Sensory Overload: UDrop starts from the bottom at Bernie’s

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From the May 9, 2013 edition

A decade ago, in the Fonosluts’ heyday, Sunday night at Bernie’s was the epicenter of Columbus rap. Not anymore; there were almost as many recent graduates in preppy button-downs playing pool as hip-hop heads looking to vibe out to the music, and the bar books all kinds of music on Sundays these days.

The sparse crowd didn’t stop UDrop from putting on a show with everything they had, from truly performing. The duo’s energy level suggested they were on stage with Obama at Ohio Stadium in front of a rapt, commencement-sized audience. Teuro and O-Mitch had a casual, confident stage presence, not the solipsistic swagger that comes from attention, ambition or delusion.

“When I say UDrop, you say bombs!” went the opening call-and-response. Simple enough, but also accurate: These were better than your average small-time rap shout-alongs. The song that repped different parts of Ohio felt cliché, as did the one where they rap about doing it 24/7/365, but they typically kept their choruses lean and effective: "Show some love, show some love/ And after the show we can have some fun.”

There was no mumbling, thank God. Actually, a lot of lyrics were yelled, but not beyond comprehension in the way that plagues so much live hip-hop, just forcefully enough to make sure they were audible over the music.

Speaking of which, one of the best elements Sunday was UDrop’s beat selection. They rhymed over Little Dragon samples, electro-rap befitting Graduation-era Kanye, tweaked string sections and triumphal brass.

That last one was the basis for closing number “Big Blk Girl,” for which they were apparently filming a video at the show. They built a nimble chorus around the graceful blasts and breaks, and in the end they let it ride for a minute or two. When you don’t wear out your welcome, an extended outro makes for a fine victory lap.

“Victory” is relative, though. After the set, DJ Cook Stuntz dropped a seemingly pointed selection, Drake’s “Started From the Bottom.” He must mean it as a predictor of UDrop’s trajectory because for the meantime, this felt very much like the bottom. But if they keep this up, they might actually get somewhere that merits shouting “Now we here!”