This is Ian Bavitz, better known by his stage name Aesop Rock. Aesop is a hip-hop recording artist and producer who was at the forefront of a wave of new underground and alternative hip-hop artists that began to emerge in the late ’90’s and early 2000’s. In his time on the microphone, Aesop was been a part of 4 supergroups, released 8 full length albums and 4 ep’s, and has been a part of countless compilations, singles, and guest appearances. He was a catalyst and is currently seen as one of the prominent figures in alternative hip-hop music. He is one of my absolute favorite artists to listen to.
I’ve been to several of his underground shows in Houston and to be honest, they’re weird… but I’ve seen 3 or 4 so there must be something in the water to keep me coming back. He is truly a master of the craft and has attracted an unusual and eclectic following so witnessing more-or-less “nerdy” people getting funky at a hip-hop show was interesting to say the least. His alternative style recently paired him up with Kimya Dawson, an award-winning folk musician to write a collaborative folk/hip-hop effort. The group is called The Uncluded and I happened to know they would be playing a tiny, intimate showing to promote their first album in Austin last Sunday night.
I purchased my roommate and I tickets the day of the show in exchange for several pre-show beverages, as the address on the tickets was so close in proximity to 6th street. We didn’t know the venue off-hand but only that it would be a small setting on 8th street. So, being in the dark and not knowing what we were really getting into, we had plenty of beverage during the hour leading up to the show. Too much beverage. TOO much beverage. With bellies too full to walk comfortably, we decided it was about time to knock our last ones down and let our smartphone lead us to the show…
We ended up at Austin Central Presbyterian Church. the RAP SHOW… would take place at A CHURCH. Not to mention the lingering feeling of inebriation humming around our skulls, the entire situation we were looking at was laughable. A folk meets hip-hop meets concert meets Austin meets church -type situation. I guess they do say “Keep Austin Weird.” And this was way weirder than the usual Aesop showing. We went inside and literally found our seats in a PEW. HA. We watched a rap show from a church pew. The environment was fantastic though… everything was very surreal, the acoustics were phenomenal and the typical hip-hip nerds were present and very into the show. I was so happy to have just seen one of my favorite artists in such a memorable setting. I mean here was my man, Aesop Rock rapping under the enormous church alter, massive cross and all, and directly under 2 mammoth stained glass murals. I was wide-eyed at how strange but endearing the concert was.
I took several videos of the spectacle that took place, but the following best encompasses the feeling of the night. The place was very solemn and echo-y and we mostly just sat back in our pew and watched musicians play and a wordsmith… well, rap. It was peaceful and was a total shift compared to Aesop’s usual intense performances. I’m sure the project has been a pleasure for this group to put together as well.
The group stuck around held a meet-and-greet after the show and discussed their thoughts on working on the project and future plans, which was great since I believe only devoted fans would have known of this show to begin with. I for one, finally got to meet and hang out with one of my favorite artists which mad the whole thing worthwhile, even besides the unique setting we’d been in. So all in all it turned out to be a weird night of God, Folk & Hip-Hop music. Weird, but another great one, Austin.