Aesop Rock and company in Vancouver (Live) [Photos/Review]
Vancouver, BC – On a Friday night downtown on Granville street a little bit of very dope hip-hop was allowed to co-exist among the club scene before the Top 40 element swallowed up the city. Aesop Rock – aka Aes Rizzle, aka Bazooka Tooth – filled Vancouver’s Venue with a surprising legion of new and barely legal adoring fans. He brought the homie Rob Sonic, vet at the wheels Big Wiz and had his boy Edison kick off the night and showed that for at least a couple hours, underground hip-hop can still be the sickest spot to be at on a Friday night downtown.
Edison kicked things off with an MPC-like board – a beatmaker standing alone with one instrument walking/rocking the crowd through his beat as he built it, layering track after track, loop after loop. The production value was intense, pushing out hardcore bangers that stressed the club’s low end bass to the limits, and to The Venue’s credit the sound was great, as clear as it possibly could be with that sort of pounding bass. The heads were loving it. The question was the spontaneity factor – dude had a lot of buttons to press on that small board, a lot of pre-programmed sounds he could hit at any moment. So, was our boy jamming out and creating a live, one of a kind, original beat right there and then? Freestyling with beatmaking if you will? Or, was he sitting back and letting us watch and listen as he built one of his beats right in front of us, but doing it the same way night after night? If spontaneity was a large part of his set then the kid is one talented artist, and if it wasn’t totally arranged on the spot he’s still dope – either way Edison’s got talent.
At 9 p.m. sharp the grizzled MC everyone had come to see stepped up to the stage looking junkyard project with a beard more shaggy than usual – road beard. Big Wiz took to the tables and Rob Sonic easily filled up what remained of the stage, looking like he just graduated from the RA The Rugged Man School of Good Looks and Proper Hygiene, with sweat stains already forming on his tee. And things only got sweatier from there. The boys quickly launched into material from Aesop’s new album Skelethon, recently released via Rhymesayer’s Entertainment. One of the most impressive things about seeing Aesop live is that for an MC who spits a ridiculous amount of syllables and general wordiness in every rhyme he’s still totally audible and has a seemingly endless amount of breath. The guy brings a real mouthful of rhymes.
The crew tore through what seemed to be just about every song off the new album, and the sea of young fans that filled the floor and balcony knew every song and rhymed along. Looks like being on Rhymesayers is exposing Aes to a whole new generation of young white suburban youth; one kid was overheard to remark that Aesop is “really up and coming.” Obviously hip-hop history has been lost on some of the younger fans.
They continued ripping through the set with periodical breaks to let Rob Sonic shine and sweat, DJ Big Wiz to showcase some skills, and to shave the head of a willing participant from the studio audience. Word to the wise, if you ever see Edison in the street with a pair of clippers, turn and walk away. They played for a full 90 mins (including their antics and ever-witty banter) and to everyone’s elation ended the set with a couple classics; “Big Bang” and “Nightlight/Daylight.” And as the young crowd of hip-hop heads began to purge from the bar at 10:30 p.m., fully satisfied from their night of dope beats and sick rhymes, the entrance swelled with too much cologne and dudes wearing shirts that were way too tight – the turnover from early hip-hop show to Top 40 club night was all too evident.
Aesop Rock had taken some down time between his last record, None Shall Pass, and in that time moved to San Francisco, became somewhat domesticated and joined the Rhymesayers team. But it’s clear that Aes is back, more relevant than ever and at the top of his game. Don’t miss him if he rolls through your town.
Written by Jesse Furnell for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands for HipHopCanada
Photography by Jamie Sands