Catalyst For Growth: Underground Underdogs Takes On Boston

By: Seamus Fay

Boston is an interesting spot right now. As compared to just a few years ago, the city is going through a musical renaissance, but even so, Boston still falls under the radar when brought into the context of the national hip-hop stage. Half of the fight comes from finding artists who represent Boston to go out and spread the word to the rest of the country, while the other half arises from giving national, more accomplished acts a reason to hop on a plane to Boston in the first place.

Needless to say, it’s a work in progress, but thanks to a number of key figures in the music community, our city has made some monumental leaps toward growth in recent months.

Quite possibly the most prominent of these developments is last month’s Underground Underdogs show featuring Coldhart, Zubin, Horsehead, Fantasy Camp, a number of opening acts, and several special guests. Blending Boston artists with bigger names from several different parts of the country, this show gave people a reason to see what was happening in the city beyond the few standout acts they usually hear about. In such a way, Underground Underdogs provided a strong sense of community and further so, a chance for some native artists to really get their names out there — both of which brought over 300 people into one room where geographical identity was strong, positivity was ample, and a visual manifestation of the future of our city became a reality.

That said, it’s important to thank those who were behind such an important night for Boston. Although we here at Graduation Music were unable to attend, we spoke with the three central minds behind the show — Jack Angell, Nathan Copes, and Disorder Ming — all about how Underground Underdogs came together, the goal of the show, the future of Boston’s music community, and much, much more.

Show some love to these much-needed catalysts for growth and read the full conversations at the link below.


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Jack Angell (@jackimissyou)

Explain your role in the process of putting together the Underground Underdogs show. How and why did the idea of throwing a show come up in the first place?

So I definitely can’t take credit for throwing the show alone. My friend Nathan Copes, who has made a name for himself taking photos of GothBoiClique, came to me around July asking me if I wanted to throw a show with him. Being from Boston, I really wanted to throw a show here, since I’ve done shows in other cities already.  After we decided to start organizing it, I used my connections through the Underground Underdogs and Copes used his connections through photography to ask artists if they wanted to perform.

Once we booked everyone and finalized a lineup, our buddy Disorder helped get us the venue. After that, it was more or less just promotion, and I had a lot of help from my design team to make some great posters and videos — basically using our formula for promotion that we’ve done in the past. I felt like there was a such a demand for a show like this in Boston, and everyone involved just pursued this idea full speed. We completely did it ourselves.

You mentioned on Twitter that this is the first show you’ve thrown in an actual venue. What other places have you thrown shows in the past and how did it feel to see such a DIY vision turn into something that could sell out a 320+ person venue?

It’s honestly surreal going from a warehouse show in Watts, Los Angeles to a fully established venue in Boston. I loved that LA show, it was super gritty —  dirty subwoofers, broken mics, and even a kid in the crowd spray painted all the walls in the ‘venue’ lol. That show was just a group of 70 or so people that loved music. I also did a show in Chicago at another warehouse, but that was on a much bigger scale. It was a concert that transitioned into a party, and something like 600 people got into the show, but another 500 or so people were lined up and didn’t even get in. It was like a line for a nightclub or something, it was absolutely insane.

This Boston show was definitely nice being in a venue since I didn’t have to worry about security or soundcheck, and most importantly didn’t have to worry about the police showing up. Plus I’ve seen some great shows at the Sonia, so it’s one of my favorite venues.

Every show I’ve thrown has been unbelievable to me, since I never anticipated throwing shows in the first place (I don’t know what exactly I was anticipating with Underground Underdogs). Looking at a crowd of fans moshing and singing at the top of their lungs is one of the most rewarding feelings, knowing that you have a room full of people that are there because you had the idea to throw a concert. It’s pretty amazing to have people to come up to me and say that they had the best night of their lives or something like that, cause I really just feel like some dude who impulsively decided to put together a lineup that I wanted to see as a fan myself. It’s a beautiful feeling to see that these shows have a positive impact on others.

Boston isn’t necessarily known as a hub for rap music to the rest of the country, and it has certainly remained below the radar for rising talent in recent years. I suppose in this sense, I would definitely consider it an “Underground Underdog”. How did the idea of Underground Underdogs come together?

I’ve always been into music discovery, no matter what genre. I guess I would have been classified a hipster a couple years ago (I was a “you probably haven’t heard of them” headass). Eventually, I got into the SoundCloud scene in 2013/14. I was really into a lot of that stuff, whether it be in the GothBoiClique vein, SadBoys, or Goth Money. But Underground Underdogs started in my dorm room. Not a lot of people know this, but UU was only an online college radio show for a while. My roommate was applying to our college radio station do some indie rock show, and the idea of a “SoundCloud rap” hour came to mind.

After a while, I realized interviewing artists was something I was interested in. I did a couple interviews, and eventually bought the website domain. I had no idea what I was doing or how I was going to do it — I just kind of wanted to write about people that weren’t getting written about anywhere else, and to do it on a basis of talent, not pay-per-article type of shit. UU really was just a passion project that eventually became bigger than myself. I wouldn’t be here without some luck and a lot of help from the UU team.   

In your eyes, what does a show like this mean for Boston?

As you said earlier, Boston is a true Underground Underdog. I feel like everyone who gets successful gets out, or they leave and come back successful. I know people will disagree with me, but in my eyes, there’s not much opportunity here as far as music goes. Yet Boston has such a demand for a music scene and its already full of talented creatives doing what they love. The hip-hop scene nowadays is so URL, all online. I think a show like this is important since it gives people the opportunity to see their favorite artists in person. Once again, a show like this is bigger than me, it’s bigger than you. It’s just an example that a group of kids who really care about music can do something all by themselves — no promoters, no external help, no bullshit. I hope Boston recognizes that.

We don’t need to wait for anyone else to bring a music scene here, we literally can create it ourselves. It’s surely not going to be easy, it’ll be stressful, and you’ll make mistakes on the way, but it’s possible to manifest your aspirations and make it a reality.


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Nathan Copes (@nathancopes_)

Explain your role in the process of putting together the Underground Underdogs show. How and why did the idea of throwing a show come up in the first place?

My role in putting together the show was putting together part of the lineup and funding the event. I hit up my friends Coldhart and Horsehead to see if they would be interested in a doing a Boston show and then Jack [Angell] and I hit up our friends in the music community and built the lineup from there. Jack and I were talking about doing an Underground Underdogs show for 2 months before pulling the trigger on it.

In your own words, what is the mission of Underground Underdogs?

We would like to have more shows like this in the future and are already in the midst of talking about who will be apart of it. The fact that we hit capacity so early in the night just shows that these types of lineups and events are what people want to see and although hard to coordinate so many people on a lineup are worth it in the end.

How did you select the lineup and why did you decide that you wanted to throw the show in Boston of all cities?

Both Jack and I are greatly influenced and take interest in the goth/emo side of underground music. I do a lot of photography for the genre and seeing a lot of the shows first hand I get a pretty good idea to what the community wants to see in a show. Jack, Ming, and I agreed that we wanted this show to be a showcase where every act was anticipated and not just 1 headliner how a lot of shows are. We decided Boston because in the past 1-2 years we’ve seen an enormous community built of people who love the underground music scene. Jack and Ming are also from Boston and I am from Connecticut.

Was there any one moment during the night where the importance of the show really hit you? If so, what was it and why was that a moment of realization for you?

I would say talking to a lot of people, afterward, helped me really realize the importance and excitement the show gave for the people who came. People told me the crazy distances they traveled to get there and to me, that really put things into perspective.


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Photo Courtesy of Sushi Sanders

Disorder Ming (@disorderming)

Explain your role in the process of putting together the Underground Underdogs show. How and why did the idea of throwing a show come up in the first place?

I told Jack earlier in the year that when it came time for him to throw his first show in Boston, we were doing it together! I am so proud of the growth I’ve seen from Jack in the past year. I remember meeting him last summer through him wanting to take photos of me and the shows that I was either throwing or apart of. (RIP JACKSVISUALS) He was so driven that his success now makes perfect sense in hindsight.

Why did we throw the show? Because Underground Underdogs Shows have happened in LA & Chicago — Jack’s hometown was just the logical progression for his 3rd show.

How? The show came together extremely quick, Jack & Copes hit me up and told me to find a space. I made a call, and we had Sonia booked for 8/29 in about 15 minutes. We reached out to the artists, confirmed the lineup and sent out contracts. Artwork and a marketing strategy was created. The show was announced about 3 days later.  

You’re also a DJ that has performed in numerous shows around the city. How did Underground Underdogs compare to other shows you’ve thrown? What made it special?

I know I have been saying this a lot lately, but it’s important. Disorder is a duo when billed as a DJ.  I am one half & Fred is the other (@bstnfred). DJ’ing is just fun for me — I don’t care about how the crowd reacts, I just play what I feel. There are days when I want people to dance, there are days when I want people to mosh, and there are days when I want people to leave. I’m the only DJ in Boston that will play Sheck Wes directly into Joy Division — I like to make people think.

I’ve thrown a few classic shows this past year in Boston, but I will say that none have compared to the UU show. On both the performer side and curator end, it was fucking lit.

What made the UU show special was the fact that we were starting full-on circle pits during our set, and the fact that I dropped a few Taking Back Sunday songs & the crowd flipped out.

Plus, I was passing out Cane’s chicken all night (Shoutout Owen for sponsoring my addiction to Cane’s Chicken.)

How would you describe the sense of “community” that exists in Boston, particularly in the underground music scene?

We all support each other. Buying tickets to shows means a lot, constructive criticism means a lot too. I look at 2018 Boston underground & feel the same way I felt about 2012 Boston underground. 6 years later, it’s amazing to see the growth & the success of everyone from 2012 on a musical and overall creative level. We are now living the second renaissance — 6 years from now, who knows? Hopefully, we will all have left a profound effect on the youth that inspires them the same way our local heroes inspired us to create. Anything is possible. If you asked me 2 years ago where I would be & what I’d be doing, I never would have imagined any of this.

I struggled for awhile with finding my role and channeling my creativity into something that I can live off & be happy with myself over. Looking back on it, the past few years were all learning experiences that molded me into who I am today. You just don’t realize that until after its over.

In your mind, what is the impact of throwing a show of this magnitude in Boston, of all cities?

Boston consistently gets dubbed. Most of the booking agents in this city are completely out of touch with the underground. Venues would rather book “safe” and reliable mid-grade national talent than take a risk on something they might not understand. Shows like this happen weekly in LA, but it’s oversaturated in LA as well. We can do this in Boston once a quarter and sell out whatever venue we chose, but if we keep doing these too much, the market will oversaturate and the idea of seeing something “rare” dies, which will decrease attendance and ticket value.

We set this show up in 48 hours & sold out Sonia. We booked a cohesive mixed bill of regional and national talent that had enough crossover to appeal to a broad spectrum.

While it’s cool throw a huge show like the UU show, never forget that we sell out the Middle East Upstairs consistently with LOCAL talent only. You can put together a great show in so many different ways.


Thank you to Jack Angell, Disorder Ming, and Nathan Copes for their participation in this article and for throwing the Underground Underdogs show in the first place.

Just look back at Boston’s sene in 2012 compared to now.

We got this.

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