By Gabe Meline
Don't let his MySpace headline ("I'm Going to Kill You") fool you--Pigeon John is one of the gentlest, most gracious MCs in all of hip-hop, an anti-thug whose personality is reflected in the absolute nonaggression of his vocal delivery. On the cover of his 2003 album, Pigeon John Is Dating Your Sister, he holds flowers at the gate of a white-picket fence with a hopeful look in his eye that says, "I am here to please your parents." His music is melodic, bouncy and fun; he rarely, if ever, swears; his general lyrical stance is that he probably isn't good enough to win you, girl, but he's sure gonna try to talk you into it. And if that's not enough for mom and dad, then shouting out to the Black Eyed Peas in his verses should probably do the trick.
None of this should scare any hip-hop fan away from seeing Pigeon John live, which remains one of the most welcome surprises I've ever had. Drenched in charisma, Pigeon John worked the stage like a trampoline, using his Chuck Taylors for their original purpose in a gymnastic display of showmanship. He's one of the few rappers I've seen who explains his songs in detail beforehand, and he repeatedly thanked the crowd for showing their love.
Near the end, off to the side, the stage manager pointed to the clock and made the universal throat-cutting signal for "your time is up." Most rappers would have milked it for one, maybe even two more songs, but Pigeon John turned to the house and exclaimed, "All right y'all, that's my time, I gotta go, thanks!" While the crowd roared, he bounced off the stage, doing what the best performers always do: leaving them wanting more.
Pigeon John, who seems to have had a falling out of sorts with your sister, performs this Saturday, July 28 at 19 Broadway, 19 Broadway, Fairfax. $12-$15. 415.459.1091. For more info, cue up www.pigeonjohn.com.