Aesop Rock’s arts and crafts

Backpackers unite: Hardcore indie rap fans got a glimpse of their Elvis this past Thursday at a sold-out Harlow’s show, and opener Homeboy Sandman didn’t hold back on the hype.

“It’s like being in the house with Mozart,” he said. “It’s like being in the house with Stevie Wonder. That’s what it’s like being in the house with Aesop Rock.”

That might have seemed over-the-top to outsiders, but to Aesop fans it was a statement of fact.

Much of the crowd was a mirror reflection of Aesop, who looked like Entourage’s Turtle, but skinnier and more stoned. In other words, it was a sea of beards and oversized baseball caps with awkward swagger.

On the music end, Aesop delivered exactly what his fans wanted: surreal beats with counter-mainstream verses. “It’s about to get real artsy craftsy in this motherfucker,” Aesop said halfway through the set before going into “Homemade Mummy.” It was a fitting description, though the comment easily applied to any of his songs.

The stage setup was particularly “artsy craftsy,” with the deejay booth surrounded by fake trees, fake deer and a Christmas-y, flowery display sprinkled everywhere. Aesop and his hype man Rob Sonic roamed the stage, spitting verses. Aesop was the suave emcee of the two, slinking around in near slow motion, while Sonic came off more as an abrasive cab driver.

The biggest applause came near the end, when Aesop’s deejay, DJ Zone, played the beat for “No Regrets,” a track from Aesop’s 2001 album Labor Days. It’s a song about a girl named Lucy that didn’t talk much but devoted her life to art. This is the kind of left-field hip-hop content that’s made Aesop a god among men to his followers.

He followed up “No Regrets” with more “old shit,” as he put it, including “Daylight,” Night Light” and “None Shall Pass.”

For the encore, Homeboy Sandman joined Aesop on stage, his manic style a nice counterbalance to Aesop’s low-key vibe. They closed with “Oatmeal Cookies,” a performance that definitely pleased even those who stayed past their bedtime to catch the entire show.

—Aaron Carnes

Solidarity: Let it be known that Sacramento shows up for Standing Rock.

Luna’s Cafe was unusually packed last Saturday night—artists, activists and music-lovers alike squeezed into every nook and poured out onto the sidewalk, bundled up and waiting for an opening. The organizer was Lee Bob Watson of Lee Bob & the Truth and former Sacramento band Jackpot. Just days earlier, he had returned home from Standing Rock, where he says he witnessed gatherings nothing short of inspiring.

At Luna’s, he collected donations for the Oceti Sakowin Camp, the gathering of tribes fighting the Dakota Access Pipeline, while a mix of local and visiting—and some Native American—artists graced the stage: Kevin and Allyson Seconds, Gabriel Nelson of Bellygunner and Mariee Sioux among them. By the end of the night, he had raised more than $1,000.

Watson also recently released a free, new album, Solidarity w/ Standing Rock, featuring songs by himself and three Native American artists, Marca Cassity, Goodshield Aguilar and Brianna Lea Pruett, the local singer-songwriter who died last year. It’s an eclectic, powerful collection, rich with traditional rhythms, chanting, spoken word, dancing flutes and soulful Americana. The musicians seek no donations for downloading the album but request support for the cause instead. Of course, now we all know that the Army denied the pipeline’s construction, but it’s still possible the Trump administration could reverse that decision.

Find the album and learn more at

Dance, dance, dance: DJ Shaun Slaughter is moving to Hawaii in a matter of days. So, if you weren’t at his popular, long-running indie dance night Lipstick at Old Ironsides last week, you probably missed your chance to say goodbye. But dancers need not fret: Unlike its founder, Lipstick isn’t going anywhere.

—Janelle Bitker