I've been slacking on a promise (threat) I made to my friend Sher Bear that I could get her to like rap. My first attempt was Brother Ali (post is here) and that went great. I have several shows and artists coming up and I know a couple of them are going to go over awesome. This one is a bit of an acquired taste, but I think we can handle it together.
I've been an Astronautalis fan for a while now and just got to see my first show of his about two weeks ago. I get tickets to a lot of shows for these indie bands/acts I like because: a) they always cost about $10, b) this is the kind of stuff I couldn't do in Japan and I don't want to take having it available for granted, c) It has to be a pretty special act to get me to a large, arena-type concert, but I pretty much always enjoy a tiny little indie show in a crappy venue. 400 max capacity and a ticket guy who doubles as a bouncer and triples as ID check is almost always going to be a good time. BUT. I'm not a spring chicken anymore, and a lot of these shows start late. I mean late, y'all. And if they're on a work night then I need to be reeeeeeally excited about it to go. I've been passing up some good ones - you can't do everything - but I knew I HAD to hit Astronautalis. No missing that show.
It was awesome. So inspiring! Andy is the dude and he is a book that can't be judged by the cover. My favorite kind. He has a powerful voice and a really unique sound and he is smart as hell. He is also super engaging live - he moves around to the beat and you think maybe he's having a seizure, but you quickly realize that he doesn't care what anyone thinks and he's just really . . . free.
His freestyling is pretty crazy, and I think it's hard to stand out because a lot of rappers are great freestylers, but he stands out. During the show, he asked the crowd for 8 or 9 topics, said they have to be things no one has ever rapped about before, and then instantly rapped for five minutes about Native Americans, tea, narcolepsy, Charles Bukowski, and 5 other things I can't remember. The Bukowski parts were beautiful - he somehow made the whole thing about absolutely refusing to give in to cynicism. (We're talking about rap music, people.) One of the lines was, "Read people who think the world is beautiful and full of options." I loved that. He also went on about his life - touring for 10 years as a rap artist with limited success, no health insurance, but meeting some many beautiful people and having authentic interactions, and he rapped, "I will live like this 'til the day that I die and that's it. So Bukowski can have his bitterness; Rest in peace, bitch." (Swoon.) Absolutely loved that. No pretense here - just smart, smart music.
This is Our Science is a great record, and I love almost everything on it. I recommend Trouble Hunters (from an old album), The River, The Woods, Dimitri Mendeleev, and This is Our Science. And Contrails is just too damn fun not to share: