Aesop Rock stops in Missoula on his Hey Kirby Tour

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By Jessica Sheldahl

Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic rock the crowd at Monk’s bar on their Hey Kirby Tour

A line of eager Missoulians waited outside the doors of Monk’s Bar to see Homeboy Sandman, Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic on the Missoula stop of their Hey Kirby tour. Inside, the stage was decorated with painted birch trees, lawn ornament deer, and a three legged prosthetic coyote. The dance floor quickly filled with people and smoke from vaporizers and pipes. Around ten o’clock, Homeboy Sandman took the stage with fast-paced, witty raps and bass heavy beats, vibrating through every surface of Monks.

Sandman compared an Aesop Rock show to a Mozart or Stevie Wonder concert, pumping up an already energetic crowd.

“I’m surrounded by hipsters, what does that say about me?” Sandman rapped during Problems while the usual Missoula crowd, a majority wearing beanies and flannel, laughed in response.

AesopRock_KBGA_MissoulaHomie Sandman appreciating his on-stage partner, Aesop Rock

After Sandman’s set, Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic quickly took the stage, covering everything from Aesop’s newest album, “The Impossible Kid” to “Labor Days”, a 2001 Aesop release. The audience chimed along to a majority of Aesop’s songs, with some hard-core fans knowing every word.

In addition to the on-stage plastic wilderness that already surrounded them, a fabric fire illuminated with lights and flowed with a fan, made the show feel like a camping trip, a welcome sensation in a Montana winter. Aesop Rock and Rob Sonic proceeded to spit familiar bars while DJ Zone danced and tweaked the turntable in the back, Monk’s newly installed sound system overheated. While show staff fixed the speakers, Rob Sonic took the chance to tell a story about a extremely hot omelette he’d eaten in Billings the day before.

Aesop Rock and a fan have a moment during the show

Despite technical difficulties, the show sounded particularly good due to Monk’s news sound system. Logan Foret, Founder and Talent Buyer at BFK Productions, explained that Monk’s sound equipment was given to the bar by Justin Wagner family after Justin had passed away last March. Monks rents out the speakers, towers, and other accouterments to performers and donates the proceeds to Wagner’s family.

After the speakers were fixed, Aesop and Sonic wrapped their set, and left the stage soaked in sweat, with an audience that screamed for an encore.

And an encore they got. Aesop Rock retook the stage with Homeboy Sandman for three more songs, ending the night with a collaborative song by both Aesop and Sandman, Oatmeal Cookies, as the crowd enthusiastically yelled the title and chorus along with them.

After the show, Aesop Rock and Homeboy Sandman hung out by the merch table and signed newly bought albums and t-shirts while chatting with fans. Sandman said that he had never been to Montana before but the show reminded him of a house party.

The Kirby Tour show sounded great. All four musicians gave energetic, polished performances, reflected by the crowd’s response. Monk’s new sound system is sure to draw more quality hip-hop, electronic and other high quality shows in the future.

AesopRock_KBGA_MissoulaAesop Rock, DJ Zone and Rob Sonic put their ones up

For more upcoming hip-hop events, keep your ear to the street and check out 1111 Presents event calendar.You’ll be glad you did.

For more show recaps and photography, check out out blog.

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