Ian Anderson 2:30 p.m., Feb. 18
Astronautalis Splashes Down at Casbah
By the time Astronautalis finished a six-minute freestyle that weaved together a fable about Louisiana BBQ, an invincible dog, and harpoons, any residual doubters in the Casbah were definitively silenced. This Minneapolis-based wordsmith, consistently one of folk rap's finest showmen, takes bizarre audience suggestions and crafts them into coherent, often inspiring tales off the top of his head. At a time when the art of freestyle rap has largely gone the way of the dodo, it's invigorating to see an artist like Astronautalis dive through the flaming hoop with such ease.
This Is Our Science, the new record chronicling Astronautalis's love for the road, came to life under the bar's bright lights. "Wherever we go, we'll never be lost/Some follow the compass rose, some follow the cross," the opening lines to "The River, the Woods," splashed vibrantly across the venue's mirrored walls buoyed by the hi-hats and synths of Astronautalis's three-piece band. For a rapper who generally belts out his lyrics with such intensity that you can't help but fear for the shelf life of his vocal chords, Astronautalis's set was remarkably restrained save for the bat-shit chorus of "Thomas Jefferson."
When constantly touring, at least on the independent circuit, one probably doesn't think twice about accepting a shot of whiskey on stage from an audience member. When the glass is handed to you by one of the creepier fanboys this side of the Rio Grande, however, you're certainly taking your chances. Thankfully, Astronautalis didn't keel over dead on the speakers from hemlock bourbon. Shortly thereafter, the undisputed president of his fan club bounced around in spasmodic glee, succumbing to the ghost possessing him to get on his knees and recite the show-closing "The Case of William Smith" word-for-word with his eyes closed as he faced the audience. A frightening scene to be sure, but also a testament to the ethereal nature of Astronautalis's fiery, take-no-prisoners presentation.
Date: October 11
Seats: General admission