AstronautalisAuditorium Shores, Nov. 2
Dallas by way of Florida by way of Minneapolis's Doomtree crew describes Astronautalis' career arc as good as anything, but honestly, this is it: he's rap's Tom Waits, Joni Mitchell, and Lou Reed, one size fits all. A hyperintellectual who segues between intricately woven rhymes parsing the Revolutionary War (raucous set-closer "Trouble Hunters"), and staccato flows that namecheck periodic table of elements' Dmitri Mendeleev, Kevin Seconds, and love/lust's fractured gray rainbow, Astronautalis's pogo-stick energy strip mines war and peace for something more substantive. The result? A swollen crowd that not only got the Lionel Terray refs ("Contrails," avec Tegan, sans Sara), but embraced heart and soul the Frenchman's maxim that we are all "conquistadors of the useless." From Anna Puma to Auditorium Shores, this "Wondersmith" son proved that heartache science has "Secrets on Our Lips," and that the "Midday Moon," whether blazing darkly down on Québécois lovers or an ecstatically enraptured Austin audience, remains as fearfully fearless as any alcove in the human heart. Braver still is his by-now-legendary freestyling: six topics chosen at random from the audience (chopsticks, Mike Wiebe, possums, time, Bun B, the Romanovs), and skeined into pure post-pop poetry. "You want me to rap about Russian history at a fucking music festival in Texas?," he shouted. "Fuck yeah, absolutely!"