Hi there everybody. My name is Derick and I’ve been in Austin all of one week. So far the city has treated me well. I love the people, the energy, and the shows. My first Austin show was the Kids Are Alright Fest, and in my opinion, they saved the best for last.
It would be a fair to say that The Kids Are Alright Fest catered to a certain aesthetic. When you put together a skateboard competition, free Vans gear, and a smorgasbord of punk bands and alt rockers, a common thread makes itself readily apparent. As the Riverboat Gamblers were finishing a high energy set outside, a very different scene was unfolding inside. A charismatic young rapper by the name Zeale (pronounced Zee-lee) prepared to take command of the Mohawk stage. He oozed a comfortable energy as he pumped up the crowd with a freestyle sound check.
“Okay ya’ll, what do you want me to freestyle about?”
(From the back) “Bacon!”
“Okay. Bacon, eggs, breakfast. I can do that”
And he fucking did! For a solid two and a half minutes Zeale freestyled about bacon and breakfast. Then he smoothly segued into his first song, whose hook was a vocal sample of “Time” by Pink Floyd.
Over the course of his 30 minute set Zeale informed us that Ratatat and MSTRKRFT were two of his favorite artists, performed another free style (sans beat) in which he rhymed “cornucopia” with “moons like Europa”, encouraged the most awkwardly confident dancer in the room (“I’ll keep rappin’ you keep dancin’”), and managed to deftly combine ringtone rap, electro pop, and political spoken word. He boasted without posturing, lectured without preaching, and busted his ass even though most of the room was as stiff as a morgue. Basically, I liked Zeale because he’s just plain different. He’ll criticize American geo-political policy and explain why he’s so much cooler than you without missing a beat.
In a genre that so often frustrates me with its quagmires and clichés, Zeale gives room to his intricacies. Human beings are multi-faceted but too often rappers get stuck in a monotone. I haven’t seen a rapper for a long while who can let himself be human. It’s this comfort that makes Zeale an artist to watch out for.