On his second go-round of Philly for the Skelethon tour, Aesop Rock maintained his love for audience bowl cuts, vegetable and pork-inspired sing-a-longs, and tag team microphone manipulation with Rob Sonic on a snow shellacked Friday night (February 8th) at Union Transfer.
Opening the night was longtime LA provocateur Busdriver, another indie rap lifer who hasn’t outstayed his welcome. With no hype-man, DJ, or laptop, Bus enthralled the packed venue with booming bass knocks and a Gatling gun flow, performing head-cracks off his latest album Beaus $ Eros. His body-rocking set of impeccable breath control, magnetic showmanship, and a four-on-the-floor freestyle encouraged the two hundred perspective rappers in the audience to enroll in a trade school.
It was the perfect wasteland for Aesop Rock, mulleted soothsayer and doom purveyor, to take the stage with his co-pilots Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz. Their performance was tighter and better paced than the initial Skelethon show last fall. The Hail Mary Mallon holy trinity rocked favorites “ZZZ Top”, “Smock”, “Zero Dark Thirty”, “Garfield” and “Cycles to Gehena” along with the barbershop nightmare “Racing Stripes” where an audience member willingly came on stage to have his wig chopped by Busdriver. The haircut was a cross between a Ska dancer and an Army initiation prank. Dude…it grows back.
Rock and Sonic wrapped up their hour long set with Def Jux nostalgia – “None Shall Pass”, “Big Bang”, “No Regrets”, and “Pigs”. The remaining ten hopeful rappers left in the crowd bowed down to Bazooka Tooth and hit the snow caked streets contemplating their futures sans “hip hop performer”. None shall pass.
[photos by Laura Lynn Photography, article by Stephen Zales]
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