Give credit where credit is due: Kottonmouth Kings are nothing if not committed to their schtick.
For 10 years, the Orange County band has been putting out records with names like “Royal Highness,” “Rollin’ Stoned” and, most recently, “The Green Album,” all packed with bouncy rap-rock, lots of B-boy swagger and more weed references than a gardener’s guide. And they’ve toured all over, playing to a fan base that probably occasionally forgets to, like, show up, man.
Synapse misfires notwithstanding, Kottonmouth’s disciples must be loyal. How else can you explain the empire the Kings have built around their band and their record label, Suburban Noize, home to Hed P.E., Unwritten Law, and Bend’s own speedy rapper, The Dirtball. SubNoize is a fount of product — from bandanas to skateboard decks to, yes, CDs — and the organization’s popularity with disaffected, suburban American youth is unquestionable.
What’s cool about Kottonmouth Kings and SubNoize isn’t so much the music, but their independence. Both the band and label have covered the country without the help of a giant corporation’s budget, and end results aside, that’s commendable. It’s sort of the American dream as told through a Cheech & Chong flick, but not as funny. Not as intentionally funny, at least.
On this stop in Bend, the Kings will share a bill with The Dirtball (in a rare hometown performance) and the popular underground hip-hop group Swollen Members, who’ve played here a few times before. Add it all up, and you’ve got the biggest show the Midtown Ballroom has hosted in some time. So if you’re interested in checking out the scene, get there early. And if the music’s not your thing, think of it not as a concert, but as a social experiment.
Kottonmouth Kings and Swollen Members, with The Dirtball and Short Dawg the Native ; 8 p.m. Saturday, doors open 7 p.m.; $24 plus service charges in advance, $28 at the door. Advance tickets available at Ranch Records (541-389-6116) in Bend and through Ticketswest at www.ticketswest.com, 800-992-8499, and the Safeway at 642 N.E. Third St., in Bend; Midtown Ballroom, 51 N.W. Greenwood Ave., Bend; www .randompresents.com.
— Ben Salmon