Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson - Saturday October 15, The Forum
At first glance, Aesop Rock and Kimya Dawson might not seem like the most obvious pairing. One is a deep-voiced, cocksure cult hip-hop icon and one of the finest socio-political lyricists his industry has ever seen. The other is a nervy, sweet-voiced singer-songwriter who introduced herself to the mainstream by featuring heavily on the soundtrack of the 2007 indie-flick Juno. However, listen to tracks like Delicate Cycle, on which the pair trade off verses over Dawson's uncomplicated guitar melody, and it all makes perfect sense. Luckily the good folks at the Melbourne Festival realised this, and booked the duo in to the Forum for a night of stripped-down sing-a-longs and hyped-up hip hop cuts.
Dawson and Aesop strolled out and got everyone's attention with a few songs from Dawson's new album, Thunderthighs, on which the rapper is a mainstay. Aesop then left the stage in the hands of the anxious-looking singer songwriter, who appeared more than a little overwhelmed at the sight of the crammed venue: "This place is fucked, in a good way," she said sheepishly. Dawson resumed control soon enough by doodling her way through some of her much-loved anti-folk tunes. I've never really been a fan of Dawson, but there is a speck of brilliance somewhere in there that's hard to deny.
Switching from the down-tempo melodies of an acoustic guitar to a full-on hip hop show is a bit of a headfuck, but by the time Dawson was finished you could tell the crowd was hungry for some action. Aesop bounded on to the stage full of energy and swagger, while Rob Sonic and DJ Big Whizz got the crowd pumping. Aesop and Sonic bounced verses off each other with precision, while Whizz exhibited his unparalleled skills on the decks. Fans went nuts for seminal Aesop hits like Coffee and Daylight, whilst also putting up a good show for lesser-known tracks such as Big Bang , much to the MC's delight.
Aesop and the rest of his trio sent the jam-packed Forum into a head-nodding, fist-pumping frenzy by finishing up the set with what's probably his best recording to date - None Shall Pass. Anyone leaving the venue that night was left with a sense that Aesop and Dawson are the standard bearers of their very own genre - anti-hip-folk-hop -and that it's one that's going to make even the most sceptical of sceptics take note. I should know because before that night, I was one of them.
BY OLIVER PELLING
LOVED: The Aesop and Kimya cocktail.
HATED: So many moustaches.
DRANK: The cheapest beer.