Astronautalis, PPT, Reflect June

At Good Records' most recent birthday bash concert, Astronautalis' set came right when I was hungry for the party's free hot dogs. I figured I'd listen to one song and grab some lunch, but his riveting performance ensured that didn't happen. What first grabbed me was his backing music, which set elements of brooding indie-rock (feedback, piano, even slide guitar) against head-nodding drums. SMU alum Astro spits intense story-songs in melodic raps that sound almost like an experimental spoken-word project--a not-stoned Cottonmouth, Texas, with rhymes--if it weren't for his sung choruses. Even more impressive than his songs was his freestyle. He asks the audience for five random topics. Then, rather than just shoehorn the topics into prepared rhymes, he spins whole stories out of the subjects, so quickly and cleverly that it'll make you forget all about things like free hot dogs. Before Astro wows the crowd, Pikahsso, Tahiti and Picnic--a young producer who recently collaborated with Devin the Dude, Scarface and the Coughee Brothaz--will perform as PPT, who impressed at this year's SXSW. Deciding between this bill and the Wall of Sound Festival makes my frankfurter/Astro dilemma seem petty in comparison.

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