I am following Astronautalis around the state of Texas. The St. Paul resident via Seattle by way of Dallas post-Jacksonville indie rapper, née Andy Bothwell, has played multiple shows within miles of my whereabouts over the past few days, and I’ve been getting to know him during the two hour-long catharsis sessions that are his concerts.
If you’re a fan, you already know about his nomad-meets-drifter ways; but if you’re not (yet), well, it’s imperative for you to understand where he comes from in order to envision where he’s going.
Tonight he is performing at Club Dada in Deep Ellum, just after having wrapped a stint at SXSW. A nine-time veteran of the Austin music festival; this year’s showcase marked the first time he was able to perform with a live band, as opposed to the talents of his laptop.
His hair disheveled, Astronautalis works the Dada stage, moving his legs so quickly he appears to be running in place – arms outstretched, like an extra in a zombie movie – as he belts out “The Wondersmith and His Sons [Pomegranate, 2008].” As the song ends, Astronautalis stares at the ground, as if to hold the end of a scene. His eyes still fixated on the floor, he breaks into a wide smile, and Andy looks up, graciously thanking his audience for their applause.
“Let’s do some freestyling, shall we?” Bothwell refers to his signature act, calling upon the audience to suggest random nouns that he will incorporate into a rhyme scheme.
Sweating from a combination of an energizing performance and the Texas heat, he channels Usher, gradually removing his clothing: the suspenders go, then the white button down, all the way to his white undershirt. When he speaks, his vocal fry is tattered and alluring. “They’re pretty awesome, right?” He says of his band, “I’m never going back to the laptop.” (more…)