“A Night with Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson” brought together yet another odd couple. A combination of rap and folk is not something you see every day but trust me… their collaborations are something worth your time. I am pretty sure most of the Aesop Rock fans would never have thought they would end up seeing a girly cutesy folk singer, so here’s to trying new things. It began with a solo acoustic set from Kimya Dawson, then a deluge of clever rap from Aesop Rock along with DJ Big Wiz and Rob Sonic, and culminated in some stellar songs featuring both Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson. I came to this show not knowing what to expect and while I would have loved to be able to see a bit better the collaborative songs definitely made the show.
Kimya Dawson is a singer/songwriter coming to us from Olympia, Washington. You might not recognize her name until I remind you of The Moldy Peaches (currently on hiatus) or the movie Juno, for which she provides a heavy percentage of the soundtrack. Her unique and intimate stylings make the listener feel connected and understood, just by a certain turn of phrase that hits home. She gives it her all and peppers auto-biographical songs with humor, wit, and some sugar on top. Kimya can flush out a certain solitary sadness in her music, but instead of it weighing you down it just gives you a big old hug and offers to make you hot chocolate.
Kimya Dawson has an album due out called Thunder Thighs and we get a taste of it with “Miami Advice”, a song featuring Aesop Rock and the Olympia Free Choir.
A fast transition was made to the highly anticipated underground hip hop of Ian Bravitz as Aesop Rock. You could obviously tell what the audience came for because the constant murmuring and trips back to the bar earlier suddenly became focused attention on stage. It took little encouragement for the guys in the front to get their fists in the air and wedging your way up closer to the stage became impossible as fans gravitated toward their favorite brooding emcee. Aesop is a savvy performer who delivers solid renditions of his hit live and gives us a strong solid beat to nod along to. His lyrics hit you with intensity and left me hanging on after each line, holding my breath as he switched his flow and started in again.
Rob Sonic, DJ Big Wiz, and Aesop Rock together are Hail Mary Mallon, a new group that is a swirl of goofy but dark smart rap. Get an introductory taste to these guys together with the video for “Smock”.
I am still surprised by the unexpected pair. The vast musical dissimilarities are illustrated best using two favorites of mine. Aesop’s “Pigs” is a song not about the police but the gluttony that breeds corruption, and Kimya’s “I Like Giants” give us some introspective twee charm. While those two tracks may sound drastically different I have come to realize that these two may not be so far apart thematically. Plus it seems like both bring enough intelligence to be called nerds… and it’s a tough world so we nerds have to stick together. I can’t wait to hear the outcome of their work between these two artists. I’d wager that hearing Aesop and Kimya Dawson through my headphones, instead of live from behind a bunch of guys with sweaty backs will be even better. Nice job to Rock n Roll Hotel on providing another surprising performance I am happy to be a part of.