Jason Feathers, the ragtag group of rapper Astronautalis, singer/guitarist Justin Vernon, singer/drummer S. Carey and producer/bassist Ryan Olson announced a “one and done” show at Sunday’s Totally Gross National Party at Icehouse in Minnesota, an annual celebration of local talent, and I knew I had to be in attendance. Jason Feathers’ 2014 release De Oro has been in my rotation, partly because of the talent of the individual members, and also in part because of how outside the scope of their normal music this is. Riding the fine line between absolutely absurd and downright awesome, Jason Feathers live performance was something I’d pay handsomely to see again and again.
Assuming their stage names, Creflo (Astronautalis), Ephasis (Justin Vernon), Toothpick (S. Carey) and mystery man __________(Ryan Olson) looked like they were having the time of their lives onstage, chuckling heartily and exchanging glances during the classic “Young As Fuck” as Toothpick yells out the line over and over, clad in his chili red sriracha emblazoned suit, chest hair on full display.
Creflo was the flashiest member of the group, wearing a Florida flag robe to start the set, and stripping down to his winter white rhinestone crusted leisure suit, beckoned the apprehensive show-goers to the front row. Teasing “this is for the Prius crowd,” Creflo’s humor high a high note with everyone and plastered smiles onto everyone’s faces. Razor sharp quick wit matched with equally sharp lyrics about getting high, stealing your girl or equally attractive aunts, and other random debauchery made up the content of the majority of the material on De Oro, but it was surprisingly entertaining, and their set had the most energy and crowd interaction of all the previous sets.
“IIIIIIIII WANNNA MAKE IT RAIIIINNNN,” yelled Ephasis over the mic during “Leave Your Stain.” While I was slightly disappointed that dollar bills didn’t come showering down around my head, seeing Ephasis embroidered whiskey, pill and rhinestone suit, with cowboy hat made up for it. Earlier in the day, Ephasis also treated us to a DJ set full of melancholy off-kilter country music that was hilarious and just as confusing for everyone in attendance. Across the way, looking way more jovial than I’d ever seen, ____________ threw down on bass, and tapped out electronic beats on his laptop. I was also happy to see the Gayngs symbol stitched onto the back of his black suit jacket. Maybe there’s hope for another album for that band in the future.
Watching them perform, I suddenly realized that there should be no reason why this band isn’t taken seriously. They might have just been “messing around in the studio” but it’s a legitimately good listen outside of the wow and laugh factor. Just as you can see someone up on stage singing or rapping about how much money, cars and girls they might have, with autotune effects on every vocal, when you cut to the core there isn’t anything different to what Jason Feathers has done with this record and their performance on Saturday. Honestly, listening to the ridiculous but unbelievably popular “Trap Queen” by Fetty Wap, and De Oro, and I don’t understand why Pitchfork gave this album 3.4 stars. Astronautalis is a talented rapper flying just under the radar that can let off a freestyle about your grandma’s retirement home with little prompting. In my opinion, the effect that 4 amazing musicians/artists have on music like this is that they can turn anything to gold. The crowd gathered in front of the stage, and even one fan I talked to that flew in from Texas to see them perform was proof that my deduction was correct. The subject matter may be outlandish, and their outfits laughable, but at the end of the day, the people danced, the people applauded and the people had a good ass time.
Article: Lesley Keller