There was much shuffling under The Loft’s low ceiling and piping maze while the disc jockey sustained long drowning tones between sets. My brother and I slipped back in from the Atlanta night and flashed the tickets, which I had called a radio station to win earlier that morning. The opening act was some delicious sub sandwiches from a local eatery. A good choice because of the stomach-aching opening act on stage. We were both long gone as the audience squashed together while awaiting the stars to step into the light. Suddenly the beat dropped and the crowd bounced.

Ian Matthias Bavitz, better known by his stage name “Aesop Rock,” busted out with a face-melter, which brewed with intent and energy that lasted for the rest of the night. Partnered on stage with fellow rapper Rob Sonic and backed by DJ Abilities, the trio kept going as Hail Mary Mallows started performing songs from Rob Sonic’s set. Without having known this artist previously, it sounded pretty similar to Aesop, mostly because he was there singing.

About halfway through the show, Aesop dropped a classic tune from his Labor album and the crowd went crazy. Another notable effort was the Nightlight/Daylight combo. I haven’t heard those in that kind of light before, but it makes sense how he did it and is an interesting concept. His more recent hit, “None Shall Pass,” was also well-received. The chorus sang as hands were held up throughout the performance.

Though I enjoyed it greatly, I was disappointed with one detail. For most of his songs, Aesop did not follow his own recorded melodies. He stuck to a more spoken word style throughout the night. Interestingly enough, I found it easier to hear his lyrics more clearly than I heard on the recordings. I consider this to be a reflection of the importance in what Aesop is saying and that it’s not just rap music but a legitimate focus on many thought-provoking topics, if you can sort through his often vulgar yet creative poems.

Another contradicting aspect of the show was the abilities of DJ Abilities. He was very talented on the turntables and innovative with sound modulation, though during portions of his solo runs, he was quite literally breaking the limits of the human ear’s tolerance for frequency and decibel levels. It seemed almost rude at times while I was covered and prayed that my ears would still be with me on the other side. I’m not the type to normally cover my ears for a rock show but believe me, it was totally necessary and still seemingly insufficient. Since those moments were few and far between, the experience was great. I saw exactly what I was excited to see: Aesop Rock killing it and holding his legend of the underground title way up high.