LOCATION: the Orange Peel AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Aesop Rock
This was my first show in a new town. I'm trying to not let that fact spoil the fact that I witnessed a rock solid performance by an artist I particularly enjoy. I knew the trade I was making when I decamped from NYC to Asheville, NC. It's just getting out to a show threw it all in stark relief.
Perhaps it's that I'm always a tad uncomfortable at hip hop shows. My relationship to the music is more tangential—it's really not 'my scene'. Everything about the crowd to presentation is foreign to me. I always walk away thinking to myself how bossy hip hop shows are—always shouting out orders as to what to do. Of course, I understand there's both a practical and traditional purpose to it all, but I'm outside the heritage.
Caveats aside, Aesop Rock is a dense wordsmith with a crystal clear delivery. The rhythms of his delivery disassembles the patterns of the beats around him, but more than, they serve the stories he's telling. His throws in split second pauses, or dips in tonality not just to the music but the narrative as well. It serves to keep his delivery from becoming predictable or repetitive.
Aesop Rock, and his hype-man for the tour, Rob Sonic, crashed through the nights' set like the well-practiced craftsmen they are. It's odd to think he's turned forty and his recording career is now two decades in. While he may still be catering to a small slice of the hip hop market, his relevance in that space has outlasted many mainstream hip hop acts the same age. In that, Aesop's fringe status has treated him well.
NOTES: Aesop Rock with Rob Sonic; Homeboy Sandman