Astronautalis Returned to Rubber Gloves Last Week
The trailblazing snake-oil salesman that the world knows as Astronautalis came back through some of his old stomping grounds last week, and gave Denton the show of a lifetime. Backing his newest, soon to be released album, Cut the Body Loose, Astronautalis concluded the Texas portion of his tour at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios on Thursday with support from DJ Bird Peterson and Denton’s AV the Great.
The night kicked off with a DJ set from Bird Peterson, a local Texas music producer and accompanying DJ for Astronautalis’ Texas dates. Sporting a goofy grin and laid-back demeanor, Peterson jumped right into a myriad of old familiar hip hop tracks and bass driven nostalgia remixes from the 80s and 90s. Each song was playfully transitioning into the next, and the crowd was eating it up. Dance parties, sing-alongs, and joyous cheers billowed out from the crowd. If this was any indication of how the rest of the night was going to play out, I was getting excited.
After a memorable hour-long blast from the past, Denton’s AV the Great was next up to bat. Upon looking back at the animated crowd, Rubber Gloves was packed like a tin of sardines. With his crew in tow, AV took the energy in the room to another level. Winner of Best Underground Southern Rapper in 2015, here stands a man dedicated to his craft. This is hip hop. This is the reason I’m here. The hungry, jumping fans while fist pumping the sky would likely agree. Wrapping up his high energy set with popular tracks “L.O.D.” and “Stay,” I was in awe. AV the Great opening for Astronautalis was a match made in heaven. Even though all great things must come to an end, the best was yet to come.
Sporting a gold grill and a black Death Jam t-shirt, the wordsmithing rhymester took to the stage with a fury of high octane beats and swift lyrical raps. I have seen Astronautalis before, but this was new, and the floodgates were open. Andy Bothwell, the man behind the Astronautalis moniker, had a story to tell, and I wanted to hear it. With Bird Peterson in tow, the next fifteen minutes were filled with mix after mix; rap after rap, all stitched together like the grand finale of a fireworks show.
After a brief pause for introductions, Astronautalis restarted with an oldie but favorite, ‘Thomas Jefferson’. As the crowd harmoniously sang along after each bated breath, we were all caught off guard as the song transformed into a freestyle about being at Rubber Gloves back in 1999. Bothwell is not unfamiliar with Texas, especially Denton. At this point, I couldn’t hear anything other than the bellowing roars of fans and the chants of “no, no, no!” finishing the remainder of the song.
“I’ve got one favor: Everyone dances. Everyone sings.” No truer words could have described the next hour of his set. Astronautalis continued jumping between older material like ‘Dimitri Mendeleev,’ ‘The River, The Woods,’ ‘The Wondersmith and His Sons,’ and newer anthems like ‘Running Away From God’ and ‘Papillon.’ Each song performed with the same level of energy and passion as the last. Unlike some of his previous performances, in-between track banter was kept to a minimum to song introductions and inspirations, brief recollections of his time in Denton, and even showing a nipple by crowd request. Even after a short mix-up with the set list, Bothwell proudly proclaimed, “we’re just gonna play more bangers.” And he delivered. The remainder of his set showcased a few more tracks off his upcoming album, including the bass-pounding single SIKE! causing the crowd to go into a full-on dance/jump fest.
Between Bird Peterson, AV the Great, and Astronautalis, I left with the all-too-familiar bass ring in my ears, bass weakened knees, and a permanent smile on my face. After hearing most of Cut the Body Loose, I have a feeling that album will be in heavy rotation upon release.