Hungry for rap spaghetti? Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic are ready to feed you a tangle of terms. On Tuesday night, a sold-out college-aged crowd at The Sinclair came hungry to consume Aesop Rock’s intricate rhymes along with fellow MC Rob Sonic. Backed by DJ Abilities, the two are on tour together to promote Bestiary, their group Hail Mary Mallon’s second album.
After DJ Abilities set up on his DJ platform, out walked a grinning Aesop Rock and an apathetic Rob Sonic, who, after a quick hello, got right to rapping. Launching into a mix of songs old and new, the group took from Aesop Rock’s repertoire as well as from Rob Sonic’s.
While Aesop Rock had come to dazzle, delivering twisting rhymes with plenty of energy, Rob Sonic looked like he had woken up from a bad hangover at his in-laws house and was half-assedly trying to save face at the breakfast table. He picked his nose and scratched his beard during DJ Abilities’ instrumental sections. Wake up, Rob. You’re in front of hundreds of people, not a plate of eggs.
The highlight of the show was hearing Aesop Rock rap solo, a soliloquy that emphasized his intricate lyricism—weird and bare, like a hairless cat. Aesop Rock the slam poet? Not far from it.
DJ Abilities showed off his abilities in his solo set, furiously scratching his vinyl records to the beat and creating droning sound effects and chopper-like rhythms that matched Aesop Rock’s weirdness. Though initially captivating in obscurity, he began to wander further and further into soundscapes more fit for soundtracking movies about the apocalypse. The desire for a steady beat and lyrics grew.
“I might have a seizure,” Sonic said, laughing, when DJ Abilities concluded his set.
Thankfully, the group soon after performed one of Aesop Rock’s biggest hits, “None Shall Pass,” an antithesis to the scrambled DJ set. Relieved by the reemergence of a steady beat and a simple hook, the crowd was moving again.
They performed a few more songs as people began to trickle out of the venue. “None Shall Pass” would have made for a stronger ending, without doubt—a final punctuation mark after a slew of veritable verses. People had come to hear Aesop Rock. But the group decided to finish with Hail Mary Mallon songs, including a two-song encore. Which sort of makes sense since they’re promoting Hail Mary Mallon. But still. Snooze.
- Aesop Rock’s rap soliloquy was bare and weird and amazing
- Played old Aesop Rock hit songs—crowd ate them up
- Rob Sonic looked bored
- DJ Abilities set was too long
- Too many, “If you’re feeling good, say “Hell ya!"s