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Tuesday, October 19

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Concert Tue Oct 04 2011

Astronautalis Surprises -- Even Himself

Astronautalis is on a roll, and boy, is he riding it. The Minneapolis-based MC/vocalist's performance on Saturday at Schubas brought a packed room, much to his own amazement. He repeated his thanks throughout the night, clearly astounded. "I expected maybe 50 people to show up tonight, to be honest," he said at one point. "And we had more than 100 tickets sold in presale. You guys are incredible."

It's Astronautalis' rabid fan base that's providing that wave of success. His new album, This Is Our Science, arrived with noticeable fanfare, largely due to bloggers and word of mouth. There's nothing like the devoted. Astronautalis' songs are often unwieldy mouthfuls, linguistically crafty and referencing everything from Joni Mitchell to making out in a hallway to the Battle of Trenton. So it was rather impressive that his fans seemed to know every goddamn word to his songs, singing along, eagerly providing every whoa and ooh. The name "King Charlemagne" doesn't just roll off the tongue, you know. The crowd's excitement was palpable, and so was Astro's -- and when everyone's that revved up, you know it's gonna get good.

Astronautalis is an unlikely-looking MC. Blonde, big blue eyes, and dressed in jeans and a button-up shirt, he reminded me of the North Dakotan farm boys I grew up with. But that incongruity was forgotten as he tore through old favorites like the party stomper "Trouble Hunters" and the intense "Mr. Wondersmith and His Sons." Backed by a super-solid band, his voice grew increasingly worn and gravel-edged as the night wore on, making tracks from his new album, such as the rough-around-the-edges ballad "Measure the Globe" and the soaring single "Contrails," sound all the more poignant.

I'd be remiss if I also didn't mention one of the evening's openers, a fellow performing under the moniker Ant'lrd. After mentioning he's only lived in Chicago for three weeks, and armed only with a programming gear and a drum kit, he began one of the most intriguing sets I've seen from an opening band in a long while. Bringing together head-bobbing beats with densely layered haziness a la My Bloody Valentine, Ant'lrd is definitely one to keep an eye on.


 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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