Looking Back and Moving Forward: From Milo to Scallops Hotel and More
Seldom have I seen so much craft, heart, weed and joy altogether is the same place for one show.
Rory Ferreira is a rapper / producer / credentialed philosopher / some sort of rap music mythologist. His work began with a handful of artfully crafted, heavily referential, bookish internet bangers on a (to this day) incredible record called I Wish my Brother Rob was Here. The record that hit some of the right blogs (including Anthony Fantano’s m/u-headed The Needle Drop), and started a following of devoted college kids and post-backpackers. From there came the next tape, a double sided EP that got the attention of some rappers from the Hellfyre Club collective. Still Rapping under the name Milo (A Phantom Tollbooth reference,) Ferreira flexed his new relationships and moved to LA with his old friend and Gothboiclique affiliated producer Nedarb Nagrom.
Ferreira’s music progressed, and evolved into Art Rap under the tutelage and in collaboration with Los Angeles indie rap Label Hellfyre Club. Milo was learning to make Rap songs from the men who founded his basis in Indie rap firsthand: the superfans biggest dream. The dream didn’t last his tenure do to a delayed rollout of his record, and financial issues that came with not getting paid for said, so in a different state of mind Milo and collaborator Safari Al created a new record, very quickly, the profits of which funded a move away from soul crushing LA and into the new pasture of Biddeford, Maine. There, Milo began his own label, Ruby Yacht, which led to his opening a brick and mortar crate digger community / rap outpost called Soul Folks records, a record store, event space, clubhouse and heaven for someone who wants to learn from the best how to build a vinyl sample library and fuck up evolution with an SP404 wave sampler.
It’s a lot of progress in the last four or so years, and when you add the eight mixtapes, four incredible full length records, getting married and having a child, you can see how much of a pillar Milo is. When Ferreira tweeted in the last few weeks that Milo as a project was going to come to and end, there were lots of sad Twitter users. Milo has no plans of stopping, but the problematic Googling of the name Milo motivated Ferriera to adopt his other rap name / persona Scallops Hotel into his full-time mantel. Milo has no motivation to stop doing anything he is currently doing, so fingers crossed this is not the end of him as a creative body for rap.
The last Milo show ever took place at Seattle's very own DIY staple the Vera Project, with support from Los Angeles underground minor deity Kenny Segal. The tour also featured the Ruby Yacht House band, consisting of live drums, trombone and analogue sampler milieu. This was the first time I’d seen Milo play with a live band, and the joy and alt jazz greatness was palpable.
Kenny Segal opened up the evening with cuts from his most recently released LP Happy Little Trees. I was excited to see Segal perform after the last time I saw him tour with Milo, along with Randal Bravery and SB The Moore. The last time Segal came through he asked the crowd what the local jazz station was, started playing KEWU out of a modulator in his beat machine setup, recorded a sample straight off the radio, looped it and made a beat around it. The whoIe performance was a masterclass. This go-round Segals’ work was live noodling with cuts from Kenny's most recent project, which heavily references Bob Ross samples about happy trees and how there are no mistakes, just happy accidents. The beats go from ethereal, unground fuzz and click collections to straight up bangers. I don’t know when the sub bass got good in the Vera but it felt better than any other time I’ve seen a show there. On the Kenny Segal-produced Busdriver track “Eat Rich” Driver announces that “Kenny Segal’s drums sound like he’s dropping desks.” The comparison is apt.
Following Segal's performance, the Ruby Yacht house band took the stage from some nu-jazz improvisation between man and brass and drums and prerecorded sample machine. The mix was gorgeous and effortless as the smell of bud drifted around the performers. The band jammed around on some cuts before Milo dawned the stage in Doc Martens and a white t-shirt to give peace to the crowd. You could see the crowds love and devotion on their faces. OG fans mixed with a mass of Seattle University looking college kids.
Milo dove into cuts from his last four records, including some jams off So The Flies Don’t Come I was not expecting. The first out the gate was the call to action on poet (Black bean). The Anti-hook on "re: animist" brought the crowd to their feet yelling back at Milo everything he’d written about metaphysics. The songs carried through Milos new material. I was hoping for at least some bars off this years Nostram Grocers record, but it looks like those will have to wait till Ro hits the road with Elucid and they perform as the full duo. The show was a huge success.
After a particularly rousing song Milo left the stage for the backstage area, reappearing with a shoebox and a ukulele. He strummed the uke open-tuning before putting on a pair of tap shoes. He played and tapped, then smashed the Uke miniature rock god style and tap danced over it till it had turned to dust. When the dust cleared he reclaimed the mic, and stared down the audience as he commanded “You think about that!” More bangers, and the show came to a close. The audience was warned that the Ruby Yacht merch establishment was having a clearance sale so if any of the audience had honed haggling abilities it was the time to unsheathe them. He went into the skillset of haggling, and its underdeveloped-ness within the age and personality range who was in attendance.
In the past I have seen Milo performances baked into crusts of self-reference and not inaccessibility, but a belief that the crew and the fans were two very different sets. I would never say he was wrong. With this show, you can see high walls come down to knee length, as Milo trusts his listeners to be able to relate with him. Either that, or Milo is used to running a retail establishment and has a different relationship with Tha Masses. Either one. The evening was amazing, and I am blessed to be able to have seen the last time Milo existed in this artistic iteration. Here’s to the hope of more new shit soon.