with Dark Time Sunshine
Jack Rabbit's, Jacksonville, FL • October 23, 2012
Jacksonville is known both by artists and music goers as the city that sleeps. I don 't want to put blame on anyone or point fingers, but we don 't get many large acts coming through town because, to be blunt, our venues do a shit job of promoting concerts. Case in point, I didn't hear about the Aesop Rock show until a week before they were hitting town and was a little apprehensive to show up to a venue with fifteen people inside. Walking inside the venue, I was pleasantly shocked to see so many people crammed into such a small space, drinking with a mild, excited chatter and super eager to see the acts of the night. Hoodies up, baseball caps on -- welcome to your usual hip hop show in Jacksonville, Florida.
Dark Time Sunshine, opening hip hop act, came with full force. I had recently reviewed their album ANX and had drunkenly, the night before, gotten my friends over at their label Fake Four to pass on my contact info in case they needed the lowdown on our food spots and where to score some sweet mary jane and was excited to see them do the album live. Onry and Zavala put on an incredible show. It's always really nice to see hip hop acts use vinyl and turntables instead of just their computers, but I guess that's where the true love comes into play with that type of music.
The lights were bright and the younger fans in the front had their elbows digging into the stage holding down their spots, while at the same time trying to throw a hand in the air whenever it was asked for. There is something to be said for standing in the back of the crowd taking a concert in, because you get to see everyone's reactions -- their faces, the 50 hands that shoot up in the air, waving back and forth -- and you can 't help but get a twang in your heart that you were glad you braved your introverted mind and headed out that night. ANX is short for anxiety... I caught a glimpse of that in Onry 's performance while doing the songs on stage; it seemed like he really wanted to let completely loose and get into it but something was holding him back. The beats were loud and psychedelic in a way, pushing together tons of influence and heart into one. Zavala is definitely a man with his showmanship down and it shows. They performed a number of songs from the new album with much fervor, "Valiant" being one of the songs that stood out in my mind.
I hadn't listened to Aesop Rock in years -- nor to hip hop in about six months -- but had heard through the grapevine recently that his shows were something that were not to be missed. Aesop and Rob Sonic, ready with mics in their hands, along with DJ Big Wiz backing 'em on the ones and twos, came out on stage. I squeezed myself through the crowd to get a closer look at what was about to go down.
They opened the set with "Leisureforce," which was appropriate for what lie ahead of us that night. They played the majority of the songs from Skelethon and a few Hail Mary Mallon songs (a side project Aesop Rock is part of) along with Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz. The highlight of the night happened during the song "Racing Stripes." At the beginning of the show I had walked past the merch table and spotted a list with names on it... come to find out this is something normal going on on this tour. Aesop called the fellas from DTS up to the stage and called a few names off the list. When no one came up, a brave soul with a Black Flag shirt raised his hand and got up on stage. They sat him down in a chair and hit the switch on the hair clippers. Everyone in the crowd freaked out. As the music bumped in the background, Onry and Zavala both took turns buzzing designs and chunks into this poor guys hair, who soon walked away with a very unique, and very personal souvenir.
Aesop performed the majority of his songs with his usual stance: hand on hip, other hand gripping the mic, showing his teeth with a big-ass grin on his face... which counteracted Rob Sonic, who had a more in-your-face, grimy attitude/ I'm going to stare into your soul type of deal. A pretty girl up front was rocking an old school d.i.y. shirt that read, "Berserker Bred Jookie -- R.I.P. Def Jux, you never forget your first love," that inspired the pair to offer to buy her a drink at the bar later that night. Total charmers. Time traveling back to the '90s, their DJ rocked a solo set on his turntables that was jaw dropping and trophy worthy, especially in this day and age with all the crazy technology.
Aesop Rock is what you call a performer; he is what you pay twenty bucks to go see, because in the grand scheme of things, he makes you have a good time regardless of whether you wanted to or not. The very act of him rhyming is something beyond talent but a gift that he has worked on for a good fifteen or twenty years. The set lasted for a good two hours, jokes in-between songs, hand slaps, and encouraging words, all in all, a good time, even for a girl who turned her back on hip hop for '90s shoegaze.