Delmar Hall hosted Aesop Rock, along with Rob Sonic and DJ Zone, Tuesday, July 11. Rock stuck with Open Mike Eagle as his one opener, a solid stylistic choice that proved to lend a smooth transition between the two acts. Eagle stood as one man, with one microphone, and one computer. I was curious to see how this act could carry the entire our, and if the crowd would stay entertained.
Mixing his own beats, Eagle’s sound was unique and fresh, a happy break from what’s popular on the radio today. Through the first part of his set, I felt like I was at a poetry reading. His hands stayed at his sides and his voice inflections were miniscule. I was hearing a solid rap, but the strong voice was coming out of a body that looked nervous to be on stage.
The crowd that had amassed on the dancefloor seemed to feel this too. People looked unsure as to if they should remain standing, and while the beat was good, it changed too rapidly for anyone to dance to. Just as I was about to write him off, Eagle started to prove why he was on stage.
He seemed to get more confidence, taking the mic out of the stand, and moving more to the beat of his music. His voice was stronger and as he started to feel the music, so did I. Hands of approval rose from the crowd as the set became more intense with each song. I could feel the bass pounding through me, bringing me more into the set and giving off a psychedelic vibe. After finally finding his flow, Eagle started interacting with the crown a bit more, even pausing the show for his “Advice Show,” to which he hilariously answered one audience member’s problem then dove right back into his music.
By the end of the set, I was a fan. I loved how he mixed live, and I could always hear him clearly even though the track was loud. He didn’t waste time with explaining the songs, he was an artist and it was clear he was here for the music.
I thought the Hall was crowded while Eagle was performing, but that was nothing compared to the size during Aesop Rock’s set. With the fog machines and red and blue lights, Rock’s entrance with his entourage was intense; setting the theme for the rest of the night.
Right from the beginning, Rock feed off the screaming crowd, and brought us all up to his level. We were in a fairly intimate venue, but he performed as though he had sold out Madison Square Garden. The show was vibrant and loud and filled with people screaming his songs back at him. His interaction with the crowd throughout the show allowed for witty one-liners and smooth transitions between songs. Rob Sonic and DJ Zone were good additions to the show, performing as a hypemen most of the set, then absolutely crushing it when each of them performed their own music.
Rock moved all around the stage, getting close to the crowd, then dropping back by DJ Zone. His set was filled with energy from start to finish, never letting up for even a second. He proved he was more than a hip-hop artist, he is an entertainer. Rock kept the crowd engaged and involved, and made me feel like I was as an underground show. Some people were breakdancing in what little space they had, others bounced and swayed, and all were affected by Rock’s lyrics.
Throughout the night, I was constantly surprised by the music and the artists themselves. I found myself laughing and smiling, even though the each song was more intense than the last. It was nice to be in such an intimate venue with this group, so that I could understand and appreciate all the lyrics and quips. Aesop Rock is definitely an act to see live.