It amuses me to no end how certain so to speak encyclopedic sites, such as IMDb and Wikipedia often give what is basically an ethnic recipe to people, most of all Americans and Canadians, who are quite obviously bound to be the fruit of rather diverse lineages. So and so is of Welsh, Dutch and Navajo ancestry, while so and so is of English and Irish ancestry- rather dull, this one, compared to other possibly more explosive cocktails. It therefore irked me that, very scientifically basing my assumption on his somewhat ginger hair, I could not easily find evidence for Astronautalis’s Scottishness.
Though that’s only because, in spite of the recently so fashionable documentaries on English kings, queens and their hangers on invading all those channels I’m not watching because football, and more dangerously, in spite of the fact that the ancient halls of Dürer were once home to my university’s English faculty, I still suck at my English royals. For the man’s real name is Charles Andrew Bothwell, and he is thus a descendant of James Hepburn, the 4th Earl of Bothwell, the third husband of Mary, Queen of Scots.
The queen of Scots bit helped me settle the matter of Scottishness, but I was rather disappointed not to be treated to the somewhat ginger hair, for Astronautalis sneakily arrived to Dürer’s Room 141 with a buzz cut. Incidentally, I suspect the room of having been the one where we burned peat as part of an Irish culture class, and with really no connection whatsoever to anything, I can thus confess that I’m better at Irish presidents than at English royals. Returning to matters of relevance, after the mid-week treat of Anders Trentemøller’s socks, you will now be introduced to the fabulousness of Astronautalis’s red sneakers, which were and are a thing of beauty, and almost made up for the lack of somewhat ginger hair.
To add to my many many sins, I will also confess to the fact that I first chose this concert based on the man’s name alone, which I decided was very cool and to be pronounced in a faintly Romanian/Latinate way, which is easier for me. He then showed up and uttered it in one of those mind boggling sing-songy American accents that kills off vowels then adds some where there aren’t any, but then again he’s a rapper so he’s supposed to have a more fired up diction than us mere mortals.
I however regret nothing, as every now and then you simply need a concert that’s there to surprise you. While I did listen to some of his songs in the run up to the show, most of his back catalogue was still relatively unknown to me, and one obviously does not have the chance to make sense of all the lyrics when spoken really really fast. Yet in spite of this there was an energy and honesty to the delivery which immediately sucked you in. The crowd wasn’t exceedingly large, given as this was the mid-sized Dürer room, but most people who decided to come were either die hard fans, or open minded enough to go with the flow and there was that special vibe which only more intimate shows can deliver.
Any artist’s sources of inspiration can seem odd to an outsider, but Astronautalis seems even more delightfully erratic than most, as we were treated to songs referencing Kurt Cobain (perhaps his best known) track, Dimitri Mendeleev (of the why not variety) and Attila Ambrus, which went down particularly well with the local crowd, being inspired by Hungary’s very own and relatively infamous Whiskey Robber.
As fitting for someone who is a wordsmith, the inter song banter was also entertaining, which brings me up to this year’s special concert programme I’ve just come up with: the Trump bingo. So far it’s 2:1 for those who mentioned him- besides Astronautalis either Tegan or Sara (I think it was Tegan because she talked more) was upset with him too, whereas Trentemøller kept danishly mum on the matter. Though obviously an American will be more bothered by their own president, and Canada is close enough for less comfort.
And finally, I found a perhaps odd but I believe very fitting way to sum up the evening: as I exited, post concert, a stall of the purgatory that is the women’s loo of any club, a young lady was standing in queue clutching an Astronautalis vinyl close to her chest with the most beatific smile on her face. That kind of grin in a toilet line can only mean that something went very well that night.