None Shall Pass: Aesop Rock Lights Up Grog Shop with Rob Sonic and DJ Abilities

Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic dished up a venomous set of classics old and new — with lots of Hail Mary Mallon stuff thrown in there — with DJ Abilities spinning intergalactic beats throughout. Whatever you might have wanted out of the show, well, as long as you showed up you were taken care of.

Dexterously, Aesop and Rob wove relentless tales in each song, spitting colorful narratives and metaphor all night. Abilities — former partner of the late Eyedea — was often given some room to stretch during the outro of songs, spinning his tables like wormholes freely granting access to distant worlds. The atmosphere all night was very energetic — hands/fists in the air, eagerly screaming fans in the sold-out crowd — and capably reminded everyone in attendance why these guys are some of the best in the game these days.

At one point, Rob pointed out this guy's "psychedelic goat" mask in the crowd. The guy retorted that it was actually supposed to be based on the artwork from Hail Mary Mallon's album Bestiary. Thus began some great banter about Jo-Ann Fabric and Michael's. There was a fine sense of humor all night. 

Late in the show, Aes and Rob dropped off to let Abilities spin a mind-altering tribute to the Beastie Boys and Wu-Tang. He chopped up iconic rhymes and fed them into his incinerator turntables, freaking everyone in the room completely out.

For me, it was really something special to see Abilities do what he does best. I entered the world of underground/alternative hip-hop through the late Eyedea, who released several albums with the DJ as Eyedea & Abilities. He was a visionary rapper, but it was Abilities who gave color to their songs. Getting to witness his talents was incredible.

Opener Homeboy Sandman brought some great energy, easily attracting some new fans and showing off a sense of wit and agility in his rhymes. Later in the night, Aesop mentioned that he often gets asked what stuff he's listening to: "Honestly, Homebody Sandman. That shit is bananas!"

About The Author

Eric Sandy

Eric Sandy is an award-winning Cleveland-based journalist. For a while, he was the managing editor of Scene. He now contributes jam band features every now and then.
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