San Francisco-based hip-hop artist and producer Aesop Rock, alongside Rob Sonic and DJ Big Wiz, played an abnormal, albeit interesting, set Wednesday at the Fox Theatre.
Dark Time Sunshine, fellow members of the hip-hop collective Rhymesayers, opened the show for the headlining trio, which also performs as Hail Mary Mallon. Both Onry Ozzborn and producer Zavala of Dark Time are talented, up-and-coming artists. Very few concertgoers had heard of Dark Time before the show, a fact made obvious after every song, when Ozzborn told Boulder to “make some noise.” Ozzborn struggled to keep the growing Boulder audience engaged in the set. This was mostly due to the audience’s low familiarity to the music rather than a lack of performing ability. Once Ozzborn made the point to the audience that the duo were there to warm the crowd up for Aesop, the crowd accepted the performance more willingly.
Ozzborn stepped back several times during the set to give Zavala time for some producing solos. These long instrumentals showed that Dark Time really is a duo rather than a rapper backed by a DJ.
“It’s not just about the rap,” Ozzborn said. “It’s also about the music.”
The duo captivated the audience by the time the set wrapped up. The audience finally kept their hands up and bouncing without being asked in songs like “Shewolf.” In the final song, “Look Forward,” Ozzborn managed to get the audience to chant “Forward” with him through the end of the set. Dark Time’s performance was engaging for the few fans in the audience; most of the audience just didn’t know who the duo was.
DJ Big Wiz walked to his spot behind the turn tables onstage. Although the audience cheered, they didn’t fully realize that DJ Big Wiz was about to bring Aesop and Rob Sonic onstage.
“Are you all ready for Aesop Rock?” he asked. The crowd gave a half-assed response, to which DJ Big Wiz shook his head. He shouted his question again, and the audience cheered louder. Aesop and Rob Sonic, looking like dirty, unshaven versions of Jimmy Fallon and Seth Rogan, were welcomed to the stage, and the audience grew even louder.
Aesop and Rob Sonic were interesting to watch as they moved about the stage. They switched from stage left to stage right often and engaged with each fan in the front few rows. Aesop wiggled his arms in time with the music, while Rob Sonic grooved to keep rhythm. Both artists never stopped moving, even to rehydrate. Even with this constant movement, both had perfect timing. Aesop even managed to synch his lips perfectly with the music video playing onscreen behind him, without looking.
The set consisted of songs off Aesop’s 2012 album, “Skelethon,” Hail Mary Mallon songs and new releases by Rob Sonic. DJ Big Wiz had a spinning solo for several minutes while making a “beat from scratch,” in Aesop’s words. “Leisureforce,” “ZZZ Top,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Grace” and “Fryerstarter” were some of the songs off “Skelethon” included in the set.
The highlight of the show came when a volunteer from the audience, Daniel Thomas, jumped onstage for a haircut during the song “Racing Stripes.” Ozzborn and Zavala from Dark Time gave Thomas a choppy mohawk with shaved stripes and leftover tufts while Aesop rapped about various hairstyles. The audience applauded Thomas’ nerve and chanted his name as he walked off stage. Thomas was greeted by multiple high fives as he reentered the crowd.
Aesop wrapped up the evening with “Gopher Guts,” the final track off “Skelethon.” He offered the crowd two choices for ending the evening: make a clean cut after “Gopher Guts” or play a couple older songs. The audience didn’t need the duration of “Gopher Guts” to know they wanted more. The trio ended its set with older classics “Big Bang” and “Daylight.” The crowd was ecstatic for these final moments and continued to cheer long after the trio’s goodnights and thank yous.
Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.firstname.lastname@example.org.