It would be difficult to envision a more successful mixture of distinctively different musical styles than that in the Uncluded. Built on a foundation of Grammy winning singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson's youthful melodies, this duo adds the densely poetic lyrics of hip-hop emcee Aesop Rock to create a musical product that balances a taste of freeform with skillfully placed moments of unison and harmony. Together, these two accomplished musicians draw from each other to take themselves and the audience to a new musical frontier.
Kimya Dawson has been creating an ever-growing fan base since the turn of the millennium when she was a fundamental part of the Moldy Peaches, an indie group that strongly contributed to the anti-folk trend of the time. Concurrently to her group work, Dawson developed a deep solo career, highlighted by numerous soundtrack appearances, most notably the inclusion of 11 tracks in the acclaimed film Juno.
Her counterpart, Aesop Rock, has quite the discography of his own reaching as far back as 1997. Influenced by the hip-hop and rock music of the 90s, he's recognized as one of the greatest lyricists by many devout indie hip-hop purists, earned by delivering layers of wordplay and succinctly poetic imagery. The duo began to create music after Aesop Rock reached out to Dawson as a fan and they have both been pleased with their collaborations in recent years.
Coupled with opening act Hamell on Trial, who brings a dynamically faster and louder style with his one man band, the Uncluded drew a combination of fans from each of the groups' adoring enthusiasts with just a dab of overlap. None of the performers had been to St. Louis recently, so their fans were sure to not miss this show. Regardless of which musician they came to see, they were all mesmerized by the show, filling the floor of the venue all the way back to the sound booth in a field of gently bobbing heads.
The headliners were joined onstage by James Lynch, who constantly dug through his figurative toy box of instruments to add a number of different elements to the show. His arsenal included recorders of various keys, a keyboard, a melodica, an electric bass and a ukulele that managed to somehow startle Dawson, much to the amusement of everybody on and off stage. His versatility on instruments was matched by his ability to contribute to the sound in the rolls of rhythm section, harmony, simple accents and even the occasional solo as he proved to be the biggest surprise of the show.
Dawson had the stage presence that you could expect from a veteran songstress of her caliber. Whether standing at the microphone or perched on a stool with her guitar, she was joyful and relaxed with an instant intimacy with the crowd, sharing stories and jokes through a constant smile. Her melodic style breaks from the repetitive structure that is common amongst songwriters, which allowed for a variety of subtle ad-libs and changes from the recorded versions, creating a genuinely new experience at the show.
Keeping with the dynamic of the group and the sound, Aesop Rock embodied the presence of a poet onstage more than that of an emcee. His delivery remained crisp and clean, at times he was passionate while at others he matched the youthful tones that Dawson brings to the group. The set afforded him plenty of chances to exhibit his skills as a lyricist, as even the tamest fans hung on every rapid-fire syllable and smirked with delight as the words seemed to unfold before them.
As their sounds came together, they created a style of music that reverted listeners to a childlike mood and then stimulated their minds with poignant and enlightening lyrics, almost reconstructing the explosion of mental growth that takes place during the formative years. As deeply profound as that idea might sound, in the end, the Uncluded is predominantly a fun act, full of laughter and delight. To finish on this note, they ended the night with the poppy, old school hip-hop styled "Tits Out" and then openly mingled with the crowd, taking a large number of goofy grinned pictures with their biggest fans.
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