Aesop Rock Rocks New York With Old-School Flow

Aesop Rock
February 14, 2015
Gramercy Theatre-New York, NY

      The frigid New York weather didn’t stop fans from waiting outside to get into Aesop Rock’s show as soon as doors opened. Once the line slowly made its way inside, fans continued to meander in until the room was full to what seemed like capacity. There was barely any room to walk on the floor, but some of the seats toward the back of the venue were still empty. With only one opening act for the night, each artist had a chance to play an unusually lengthy set. It was different from a typical show with more than one opening act. The night seemed to last forever, and if you bought tickets to see the show, surely you wouldn’t have minded.
The opening act was a Bronx rapper named Homeboy Sandman. He performed passionately, noting that his niece and other family members were in the audience. The crowd accepted Sandman and seemed to be enjoying his set, cheering him on as he caught a breath during each hook. There was a group of loyal fans at the front right of the stage. They helped Sandman out by shouting all of his lyrics and pointing to the stage in acknowledgement of Sandman. Though his set went on for what seemed like over an hour, and very well may have been, the crowd got into what it was hearing and no one seemed to be losing patience waiting for the main act. It was refreshing not to see people complaining about the opener, but embracing him and just having a good time.
  Aesop Rock (6)   DJ Abilities took his place behind the turntables set up in the middle of the stage. Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic came out next to a thunderous applause. Not a minute was wasted as DJ Abilities dropped the first beat and Aesop ran with it into the opening song. Fans went crazy, hands in the air and moving to the beat. Being a rapper who began his career and came up between the mid 80’s and late 90’s, his style was much more old school, having a distinctly different sound than most current hip-hop. Early influences of Aesop Rock included Run DMC, Public Enemy, Fugazi, and the Dead Kennedys. Aesop spit his lyrics with incredible speed leaving listeners stunned and trying to unpack his lyrics and figure out what it all meant. They didn’t have much time since he quickly moved from one song to the next, packing in as many of his verbose songs as he could.
At one point Aesop took a minute to talk to the crowd about Valentine’s Day, since it was February 14th. He wished everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day, and proceeded to hug it out with Rob after claiming he was his valentine every day. Rob Sonic is a member of Hail Mary Mallon, along with Aesop. The two shared the stage for the entirety of the night, switching off verses and lines while occasionally rapping simultaneously.
A lot of crowd participation took place as Aesop and Rob asked the crowd to repeat back lyrics each time they heard a certain word or line in a song. During Tetra, fans joined in to repeat, “Don’t fool with his cool” each time the hook came around. Close to the end of the show, Aesop began free styling for a few minutes. He then went straight into the next song, the beat dropping in just as he finished his last word. While the crowd had exploded after his freestyle, there was barely anytime for him to bask in the applause and shouts. He kept the night moving just as swiftly as his rhymes came out. Aesop may not be one of today’s best-known rappers, but Saturday’s show proved that he could stand the test of time by staying true to his own style, one that focuses on intricate wordplay and subtle, conscious messages like many of the hip-hop acts that originated in the 80’s and 90’s.
Review by: Ashley Rodriguez

Aesop Rock

Homeboy Sandman