Get With the (Witness Protection) Program

The night did not start smoothly. The Greede Family, one of the opening bands, caused havoc when Paradise management had to cut off their electrical power after their show ran too long.

Refusing to relinquish the spotlight, they roamed the stage saying, “Fuck that, you’re all here to see us.”

The stage finally cleared when a scuffle broke out and security intervened.

“It was unfortunate, but it wasn’t that serious,” said WPP keyboardist Dr. ATM. “It was just a bunch of drunk guys who wouldn’t get off the stage. In music I guess you run into these situations where it’s just out of your control…There’s very little you can do.”

He says he thinks the Paradise turned away at least a hundred people who arrived just after the bust.

But the WPP was unfazed by the incident.

“In the [pre-show] huddle, we all looked at each other and we were like, ‘We’re not going to let this interfere with our music. We’re not even going to think about it,’” ATM said.

Peace was restored when the WPP took the stage—and a different kind of onslaught began.

“In the words of LL Cool J, Paradise is very nice,” MC Absurd told the cheering audience as the band, complete with guitar, bass, percussion, keyboard and turntables, filled out the stage. The WPP proceeded to break into their fiery opener “Beast (v.).”

“It’s beast as a verb,” ATM told The Crimson. “Like, I will beast your world. I will beast your existence.”

With the song’s powerful riffs and beats, it’s safe to say the audience’s existence was beasted.

The hour-long set went on to bend genres in the WPP’s unique style.

The heavy, guitar-led “Dip the Tip” was bolstered by an elaborate drum solo from PK-1. “Carol of the Bells” cleverly worked the Christmas folk melody into a modern hip-hop framework.

Although they take their music seriously, the WPP says they’re just a bunch of guys looking to enjoy themselves and have fun with the audience.

For instance, Benny from the ’Burbs used the show to show off his elegant T’ai Chi moves. During “The Covex Dance,” Covex (turntables) rolled up one pant leg and shimmied on a single foot in a circular motion.

“Everyone has to jump up and down,” Absurd said. “Or if you’re disabled, do the Covex dance, which would make you look disabled anyway.”

The band finished with “ATM,” a WPP staple that demonstrates their steady confidence and talent.

“We were happy with the performance,” Dr. ATM said. “To have your name on the outside marquee is just a tremendous rush.”

The show at the Paradise was the last in a string of three shows. Last week, they played at Bowdoin College in Maine and Arlene’s Grocery in New York.

“It was intense,” said ATM. “We’re very happy with our continental U.S. tour.”

Impressed with their work, the manager of the Paradise asked the WPP for another performance in April.

Despite their bold stage presence and seasoned performance, the WPP has yet to release an album.

The band has already recorded an EP at the illustrious Longview Studios in Western Massachusetts, which has housed the Rolling Stones, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Creed. For the project, the band employed the skills of prominent hip-hop sound engineer Steve Hardy, who has worked with Eminem and Jay-Z.

“It never occurred to me it would get as serious as [this],” said The Cuban Revolution.

The WPP has come a long way from their humble beginnings as a two-person act when Covex (Cameron Kirby ’03) and MC Absurd (Jacob Rubin ’03) started the band as Harvard first-years. Over the next two years, they slowly pieced together the rest of the lineup: Dr. ATM (Nicholas Britell ’03-’04), PK-1 (Pete Kennedy ’03), percussionist Cool Hand Luke (Luke White ’03), bassist Lethal D (Berklee College of Music senior Dave Sherman), The Cuban Revolution (Alan Wilkis ’04) and Benny from the ’Burbs (Northeastern University senior Benjamin Peterson).

In the last year, the WPP has transformed itself from a typical underground group into a full-fledged band with a distinctive style.

“Last year [the music] was instrumentally and vocally…just freestyle,” said PK-1.

The WPP’s turning point was opening for Jurassic 5 and Blackalicious at Amherst College last May. The emcees even got a chance to freestyle with the bands.

“I have a [picture] of Chali 2na with his mouth open, just looking at MC Absurd, rapt,” ATM said. “I will keep that picture ’til the day I die.”

And ever since, doors have opened.

As headliners, the band sold out the House of Blues in Cambridge and have played Arlene’s Grocery in New York six times—breaking attendance records set by the Strokes and the Black Crowes.

“It’s something that we’ve always had fun doing.,” the Cuban Revolution said. “Suddenly it’s becoming something we can actually make a career out of, and that’s just blowing my mind.”

“It’s blowing all our minds,” Dr. ATM said.

—Staff writer Sarah L. Solorzano can be reached at solorzan@fas.harvard.edu.

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