Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic, DJ Big Wiz, Edison and Dark Time Sunshine
The Loft – Atlanta, GA
So I got home from a long day of work and got ready to start making dinner. As I went into the fridge to see what I had to cook, I noticed my Aesop Rock ticket. See, I have a handy little magnetized ticket holder attached to my refrigerator door. This way I see them everyday and it keeps me from forgetting about shows that I’ve paid money for (which has happened before…Busdriver years ago…ugh). Lucky for me, because I had totally forgotten about the show and I would have been livid if I missed it. So I threw some bullshit together, ate, changed clothes and headed down to The Loft solo.
I walked in the door right at 8:35 and, to my surprise, Dark Time Sunshine was already on stage in the middle of their second song. The ticket said 8:30, but didn’t say if this was door time or show time. I only went early because I heard Aesop was going to have copies of the Appleseed repress and it was imperative that I get one. Well, again, lucky for me because I really wanted to see Dark Time Sunshine live. I really liked their first record, Vessel and had recently heard their newest record, ANX. I liked Vessel a lot more, for the record, but that was only off one listen. Regardless, I like anything that Onry Ozzborn touches so it really didn’t make a difference. At any rate, they put on a great show. Onry seems like a really quiet, introverted dude to be such a personal and introspective rapper. His stage presence is rather stoic, but, as odd as it sounds, it’s in a really cool way. It just seems like his personality to be this way, but it definitely doesn’t come across as awkward or boring. Just odd. But I’ve seen Grayskul a few times so I knew what to expect. And the way he handles the mic, as well as the way he interacts with the crowd, made the performance dope. They ran through songs from both records and performed them flawlessly. Even though I’m not super sure if the crowd knew who the hell they were, they seemed to really enjoy them, which is surely a testament to the quality of their performance.
Next up was someone that was a little surprising for me. It was a guy that went by the name Edison. He’s a beat maker who performed his beats live while playing something called a Monome (which I’d never heard of before). For those that don’t know, a Monome is a little box filled with tons of buttons; each button making a different sound. It’s a rather interesting device as the one that Edison played had a total of 256 buttons if I’m not mistaken. This music was a very unique mixture of hip hop with, maybe, some elements of glitch. Here’s the thing. While I really enjoyed the music and would be happy to check out his records, it wasn’t really something I was interested in seeing live for the period of time he performed. That’s absolutely no disrespect to him. It may have just been the mood I was in. I just didn’t feel like seeing someone hitting buttons for an hour. But I’m definitely going to be purchasing some of his music very soon.
Next up was the main event. Aesop Rock, Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz hit the stage. The chemistry between these three guys is uncanny. They seem to have a genuine friendship and all are unbelievably talented at what they do. It’d been 5 years since Aesop killed MJQ in Atlanta so I was super psyched to see him again. However, I don’t think I was prepared for what I saw. Opening with “Leisureforce”, I knew I was in for a good show. He ran through the majority of the songs from Skelethon and I must say he performs these songs so flawlessly it’s ridiculous. If you listen to Aesop you know how complex his rhyme patterns are and I could only imagine how hard that must be to pull off live, but he does it like it’s second nature. Then again, I’d assume, after performing for 15 years he’s just become a pro. I’d be wrong in not mentioning the assistance from the criminally underrated Rob Sonic. Not only did he serve as an extraordinary hype man for Aesop, he even got to rock some of his solo material that’ll be on his upcoming record, Alice In Thunderdome. I would have loved to hear some tracks off Sabotage Gigante, but that’s OK. We also got to hear them do some tracks off the Hail Mary Mallon record, which was great. One of the hilarious highlights of the show was during Racing Stripes how they brought up a member of the audience (you’re a brave man, Clinton) to have his haircut in the worst way possible by Onry Ozzborn and Zavala. Good stuff, man.
Aesop and Rob are clearly microphone masterminds, but Big Wiz really makes me drop my jaw the way he cuts. I can really appreciate a hip hop act having a real DJ in 2012 rather than some dude just standing in front of a Macbook with his hands raised acting like he’s hitting buttons. (We don’t believe you.) Back to Aesop, there’s just something about the way he performs. His energy is so high that you can’t help but feel everything he’s portraying. He’s all over the stage; he’s extremely animated; he’s clearly putting his all into the show. He seems to genuinely love performing these songs. A lot of rappers’ live performances come off as work for them rather than fun. You get the opposite of Aesop Rock. You get a guy who looks like he’s having a good time and, in turn, forces you to have a good time. I told a friend of mine, after the show, that this may be the best show I’ve seen all year. I may take that back at some point, but, as of the time of me writing this article (two days after the show), I’m sticking to that. Especially with the way he closed the set out. He ran through “Big Bang” (from Float) which surprised the hell out of me. He even did the last verse over the “WMR” instrumental, which was super crazy. He then did “Nightlight” and “Daylight” together, which put me on my ass since “Nightlight” is one of my favorite tracks from him and was the last song I expected to see him do live.
All-in-all, if you’re a fan of Aesop Rock or a fan of live hip hop in general and you see that he’s coming to your town, do yourself a favor and go! Trust me…you won’t regret it.
A few quick shout-outs, though:
- The guy who hadn’t showered in about four weeks that smelled like warm rotten goat milk. Fuck you, Onry, for repeatedly telling the crowd to put their hands up. Every time he did it, I felt like I was being roofied.
- The asshole who attempted to rush the stage when Aesop Rock went on. He tried to shove his way past me after I squeezed my skinny ass as close to the front as possible. Yeah, I don’t play that shit so my boney elbow was quickly lodged into his chest along with the “fuck you doin’?” face. Needless to say, after about five minutes of that he took his dumb ass somewhere else.
- The super weird tall dude with the dreads, who forced his way up to the front about half way through Aesop’s set. Pushing these innocent white kids out of the way only so he can get to the front and throw the Westside ‘W’ up in Rob and Aesop’s face. Sooooooooooooooooooo bizarre.
- Lastly, my skanky stripper ex-girlfriend who was bartending. I wonder if everyone there knows that there was probably a drop of herpes in every mix drink she made them. Hmmmm….
By the way…if you’re a nerdy collector like me, be sure to pick up a copy of Aesop Rock’s Appleseed repress at the show. I heard there were only 1000 made between tour and the Fifth Element website. The website is totally sold out, so once these tour copies are gone, they’re gone for good.