Sage Francis - The Observatory - February 13, 2014
The Observatory swelled almost to capacity last night as the crowd awaited a night of swiftly delivered cerebral lyrics from the Epitaph Records' lone rapper, Sage Francis. The bald headed of emcee appeared on stage looking more like a bodyguard than a revered lyricist. With a drawn-on comb over, likely the work of Sharpie, Sage seemed to be giving us his best recreation of Bill Murray hairdo in Kingpin.
With his back turned to the crowd, a sign rose above his usually bald head that would be disappointing to most attending your run-of-the-mill hip-hop show: "No DJ." The crowd cheered before the tacky sign was thrown into the crowd. Following that, a more obvious sign arose: "No Band." The next sign read:"No Hypeman." What kind of hip-hop show would this be then?! The final sign notified the us there'd be "No Problems" that night before the Rhode Island rapper faced the crowd to reveal a black shirt bearing red, cut-out paper hearts. Sage Francis was ready to rock!
Beginning with "Escape Artist" and then transitioning into "Crack Pipes," it became clear that what also should've been mentioned in that sign-waving intro should have been notices that there would also be no effects to his voice--only raw emotion--and the crowd would be his only back up. As the lyrics of the song began to outline his anti-establishment persona, he holds the mic stand up to his shoulder and points it in the air like an M-16 as he discourses on the legitimacy of our America's military-industrial complex.
Serving as his own selector, Sage made trips to a bedazzled laptop sitting atop the altar where turntables are usually praised. Alongside the magical laptop was a large, intriguing gift bag. Finally taking a break after working the sardine packed room to sauna-like temperatures, the sweaty emcee took his first break with the impeccably horrid comb over still intact. He jokes that his most played track on Spotify, "Sea Lion," should've been called "She Lyin." Soon thereafter he flicks one of the paper hearts off his chest (no lie, the hearts flies through to the back of the room and lands dead on the left side of my chest).
For his next act, he gave us some of his acclaimed spoken word. The crowd, who'd been singing along to his lyrics with an occult like affection quieted for the allegorical "Waterline." Exhibiting his diversity as an artist even more, Sage appears from what should be called his magician's table with a melodica to play us his best John Williams cover of the Star Wars theme.