You're allowed to have fun at concerts. It's okay. I know it's a "little intense" to be passionate about something, and I know that sharing your true feelings makes you feel vulnerable, but damn, Aesop Rock
deserved so much more.
So I saw Aesop Rock last weekend at the Brooklyn venue, Warsaw. And it was magical. His stage was set up like a forest - with plastic deer, a wolf, and even birds on the turntable for his DJ, DJ Zone, and he had his cover for The Impossible Kid
on a curtain in the back of the stage that was fading in and out of view, the lighting work was dynamic, and it was obvious that Aesop put work into his performance, and that his almost 20 years now of touring have obviously brought with it a grace in his performances.
He performed songs from all over the map, with almost the same energy as when he wrote them, kicking it off with "Mystery Fish" from The Impossible Kid,
to "Daylight" off of Labor Days
later in the set. And of course "Kirby," the song he dedicated to his cat.
The audience didn't really move.
Both Aesop and the people he was touring with, Homeboy Sandman, Rob Sonic, and DJ Zone, were constantly interacting with the audience, holding the mic out to them during the choruses, bantering with them, and referring to New York and things for the audience to respond to. This crowd was too good for that though apparently. Every time I looked around at the audience, it was a sea of unimpressed faces. It's one thing if you don't like the artist, sure. But I heard you saying how awesome they are outside of the venue. Why is it so much more important to be "cool" and disinterested than it is to actually enjoy the artist you paid money to see?
A concert is a conversation. Aesop relies just as much on the audience's energy as the audience relies on Aesop's energy. This doesn't mean that you should be screaming and jumping up and down at every single show you attend; obviously you're not going to be moshing at an Adele concert. This does mean though, that you should at least acknowledge the fact that they put their heart and soul into the music that they're performing for you. It's not fair to the performer to act like you're too cool for their music, especially when you have acknowledged previously that you really dig them.
A particularly telling moment at the whole concert was during Homeboy Sandman's set, where he said "I'm surrounded by hipsters" during his song "Problems" and he gestured towards the audience, and continued, "what does that say about me?" He continued to completely roast the crowd like this, and it was hilarious. The crowd didn't even give so much as an acknowledgment to it. Maybe they were hurt by his comments for some reason. But if they were hurt, they should've booed Sandman off stage. I'd rather have that than a completely apathetic crowd.
Energy is a thing that affects the whole audience. If most of the audience is standing around looking disinterested in what is going on, then the rest of the audience is going to follow suit as well. It's human nature to be a part of a group, so even if you are really digging the performance, being surrounded by people who are doing nothing makes you scared about sticking out. But who cares, dude, that's Aesop Rock on stage. You like him.
Forget about the whole concert being a conversation and the whole energy type deal. You'll just have so much more fun if you're losing yourself to the music naturally because you want to.
Unfortunately, there's only so much that Aesop or Homeboy Sandman could do in that situation. They could interact with the crowd, they could do ridiculous things on stage that would entertain people, but at the end of day, if you have an intentionally cool and aloof crowd, you're going to have a cool and aloof show. And even though Aesop gave a spectacular performance, the audience did hold him back somewhat. There were only a few people in the crowd that went nuts at his most popular songs. When "None Shall Pass" came on, I personally lost my shit. I only saw that for only a few other people in the whole venue. It sucks that actually being into what you came to see is considered weird.
I don't want this to muddy what Aesop, Sandman, Sonic, and Dj Zone did that night though, because they made and continue to make some of the most forward thinking hip-hop of the present. And it's not like there weren't people in the crowd who didn't appreciate it, because there was.
Let your passion be heard and drown out the apathy that's apparently oh so cool.