Concert review: Astronautilus (with Robb Steele and Farout) talks baseball, dodges bottles at the Firebird, Tuesday, October 2
Opening the show was local act Robb Steele, three MCs and one DJ who know how to rock the mic right. They’ve opened a few other shows that I’ve reviewed and have been great performers every time. Pete, Marty and Bryan obviously love what they do and it shows.
They spent time between songs bantering with the crowd and each other, explicitly pointing out when Pete’s age-related eyesight issues caused them to skip a song or two on the set list. They were joined by DJ Innovation (a.k.a. DJ Irrigation, the man who controls the flow) who cut and scratched while the guys stalked the stage, spitting out their lyrics. Fans of old school rap should be kicking themselves for missing this fun, high-energy set.
Farout was the next act to hit the stage with Steddy P providing the beats. Another local act, Farout stomped across the stage with a speedy delivery that made Mr. McFeely seem slow. A few times he was rapping faster than Ninja from Die Antwoord without slurring his words or using other forms of trickery. One thing I noticed after the first song is that he is constantly rhyming, enough so that he doesn’t appear to breathe. He delivered line after line after line without appearing to stop and catch his breath.
Farout delivered his lyrics with a sense of seriousness, which aided some of the humorous aspects of his songs, which name-dropped a diverse array of characters from the Mars rover to “Family Matters” dad Carl Winslow. Steddy P occasionally chimed in on vocals, but spent most of the set standing behind the gear table laughing at Farout’s rhymes, rapping along with him or making gestures as if he was re-creating the lyrics in some kind of sign language. Farout put on a strong performance and kept the crowd’s energy level up for the headlining act.
Minneapolis native Astronautilus took the stage with his touring band of Oscar Romero on guitar and Mo Blunts on drums. He thanked everyone for coming out on a Tuesday night and gave a response to all the messages of “I can’t make it tonight, I have to work tomorrow” that he received on via social media: “Unless you have a kid, quit your job.” He spent a lot of time talking baseball, which makes me wonder if baseball is something that caucasian rappers all have in common. Buck 65 also spent a lot of time on the subject when they were in town and former 3rd Bass rhyme slinger Prime Minister Pete Nice quit the music business to become a baseball historian.
The band sounded fantastic playing with the pre-recorded bass lines that Astronautilus usually raps over. Every song was sung, screamed or rapped with a great amount of emotion and conviction, the kind of emotion that can’t be faked. This is the 10th year that Astronautilus has been touring, but he had the kind of enthusiasm that you see from someone just setting out on his career.
Astronautilus played both old and new stuff, including “Thomas Jefferson” and “Contrails.” Although he’s no Tegan Quin, Oscar Romero handled the backing vocals on the latter track very well. One of the more fun parts of the night was when Astronautilus did a freestyle rap on topics (Chipper Jones’ last season, multiverse theory, the New York Yankees, Todd Akin, Neptune and Doctor Who) that the audience suggested. He also debuted a new song that hasn’t been titled yet, after requesting that the fans not record it or post it online.
Astronautilus clearly loves his fans. You could tell by the way he addressed the crowd, talked and joked with fans between songs, and told the crowd that he appreciated them coming out on a Tuesday night to hang out with him. All of those words were sincere and from the heart. If they weren’t, then the guy should go into acting because he’s damn good at it.
He was laughing and having a good time the entire night, even after some asshole in the crowd lofted a glass bottle onto the stage. You could tell that it really bothered him though, since he kept mentioning it between songs after it happened.
Astronautilus returned to the stage to comment on it once more, coming out to fulfill the crowd’s request for one more song with a scathing freestyle about the bottle thrower and how he wasn’t going to let one bad fan ruin the night for everyone.
The rapper came out to talk to fans after the show. Unfortunately I didn’t stick around for that, I had to get home and get this article written. While I wasn’t about to miss him on a weeknight, I don’t have the luxury of quitting my job to see him. I figure that this is a good compromise.
Oh… Just in case that bottle-throwing jackass reads this: I hope you follow Astronautilus’ advice and stop going to shows. People like you are why we can’t have nice things or nice people coming through town more often.