Sat July 16
300 Winning Way
At first it was hard to believe: Listed alongside Le Tigre as an opening act for Portland's Beck show was McRorie, a name many have recently come to revere through the magic of the internet. Thanks to widespread blog buzz, the "McRorie--One Man Live!" website (www.mcrorie.net) has become a favorite destination for curiosity-loving web surfers, enticed by the unique musicianship the site showcases: One man, in one kilt, sporting a lion's mane of hair and a body rigged head-to-toe with high-tech musical equipment, on which the man named McRorie bangs out full-band renditions of pop, rock, and metal classics like some bionic lovechild of Howard Jones and Ted Nugent.
The basic mechanics of McRorie are staggering: Each foot holds a pair of sensors, rigged to replicate bass drum, snare, and cymbal. Each hip holds a midi keyboard (bass on left, rhythm on right) while his chest holds a quartet of drum pads. Rigged above is a "Voitar" microphone, through which McRorie supplies lead vocals and harmonies, as well as various instruments, including saxophone, trumpet, and violin. Each of these devices has been modified to withstand the vigorous activity inherent in a McRorie performance, and all run back to the pad-to-midi converter strapped to McRorie's back, for a total of 15 pounds and $100,000 worth of equipment. After five years of tech modifications and mastering the physical demands of the one-man-band, McRorie set out for 15 years of touring around North America, playing colleges and nightclubs in Canada, along with a number of US fairs and festivals--and eventually hitting Vegas.
As for how he wound up touring with one of postmodern rock's prime poster boys, McRorie is as amazed as everyone else. "I guess Beck saw the website and then his manager called me," McRorie tells me, phoning from Vulcan, Canada.
When I predict a rapturous reception from a hall full of Beck and Le Tigre fans, though, McRorie gets uncharacteristically shy. "We'll see," he says. "It's just rhythm and notes. Let's have some fun."