Nothing brings a smile to our collective faces like a sardine-packed hip-hop show. Last night, trying to get from the rear of LVCS to front and center for Aesop Rock's headliner set was like sprinting in a hurricane headwind with debris and livestock smacking you in the solar plexus. Which sounds like a total pain in the ass, until you observe the implications: Hip-hop music. Getting a great turnout. In a city historically tough on hip-hop music. If booking rap music locally is a gamble, this was a royal flush. Or at least a lucky straight. Whatever.
Regarding the music: With a few exceptions (including "Big Bang" from Float), this was absolutely the tour of the Skelethon. Aesop's latest album, in all its Grimace Federation-backed grandeur, was played in what felt like almost entirety, opening the set with "Leisureforce" (a personal favorite on the album) and hurdling over requests for the old shit to make more room for "Zero Dark Thirty," "ZZZ Top" and "Racing Stripes," the latter of which detailing a kid giving terrible $5 haircuts (for visual aid, Aesop brought an audience member onstage for a coiffure hack job). He even did "Smock," a track from his side project Hail Mary Mallon, which maybe only a third of the audience realized at the time.
And it was jammed. And most of the punch lines were crowd-sourced, shouted by a diverse and out-of-the-woodwork audience unfamiliar to Hip-Hop Roots shows and hopefully new regulars.
While we had a great time at the show (especially when Aesop closed with "Daylight," one of his arguably most-beloved tracks), and we urge you to check out Skelethon (if you've been living in a bunker with no stereo) and Washington-based opener Dark Time Sunshine, there was one disappointment: When we arrived at the venue, we were told the two local acts initially thought to perform were no longer going on, making this an unfortunately local-lacking outfit.
*Correction: We were told later the show's contract said there would be no local openers — something local promoters, and the assumed openers themselves, weren't aware of leading up to Saturday night.