milo at the Union

The show had two openers, a local rap duo and an upcoming band called Hidden Places. Sometime around when Hidden Places was starting Milo emerged from a small side room, smelling suspiciously of marijuana. He stood watching Hidden Places and talked to fans that approached him. He wore a silk scarf wrapped like a hood and a hat, he didn’t want to be noticed but he was humble when he was. After Hidden Places powerful set Milo took to the stage to set up. He didn’t have a laptop or any instruments just some vocal modifiers.

Milo’s set was half half stand up comedy, half show. He performed primarily songs off his latest album “who told you to think?!/” which we thought was the best album of 2017. Most of the songs on the album were recorded in one take so he unsurprisingly sounded exactly like the album. I tried to get a good amount of video footage because I think that does the performance more justice than writing about it.

Some highlights of the show were his meandering monologues between songs. Early in the show he removed his scarf, hat, and jacket and said “now it’s time for some frenzy shit.”

One interesting break between songs was Milo talking about if he could make and name two weed strains one would be “Slug Dick” and the other “Zen Scientist”. Imagine saying you were smoking Slug Dick or Zen Scientist. During these times it felt like watching a standup show. After this he went into the song Zen Scientist unsurprisingly but not before a girl in the crowd could ask if she could sit on the stage to which he replied “I don’t care it’s not my stage”.

After a couple more songs he jokingly mentioned that he was going to bring up his prodigy on stage before saying he actually came alone, because he wants to make all the money. He said how he didn’t want a laptop or keyboard on stage, he is the instrument. He asked if anyone wanted to come up on stage and spit bars, he also mentioned how he will roast anybody. A lot crowd banter came around this point with one fan yelling “Will you adopt me”. Before the last couple songs of the set he said maybe I don’t want to play any more songs and something about bringing energy into this hallowed space. 

When the show ended, we decided to ask Rory to come hang out. Surprisingly, he obliged and half of our group hopped in his rental car and we all drove to a friends house. The time was about 12:30 when we arrived at the house. Natural Music had reached out to Milo before the show trying to see if we could get an interview but he never replied. The whole experience felt rather surreal as I have been a fan of Milo for years. I knew his music before I knew Arcade Fire, Radiohead, LCD Soundsystem or really any music at all.

I wish I could adequately articulate the next three hours but it all became a slight blur. I was just hanging out with an artist I had looked up to for so long and he was just another person. I had thought about what kind of questions I would have asked him if we would have gotten a formal interview. Throughout the night I talked about some of this and learned a lot about Rory as a person. I am going to list it a sort of list format because I can’t write narratively.

Early in the night I made conversation about the crowd in Athens, OH and how much better it was than the Columbus crowd (the only other show I had seen of Milo). The show was a one-off and he had flown into Columbus the morning of the show and drove a rental car to Athens. His flight back hom was at 10AM back in Columbus.

I learned that he currently lives in Maine with his wife and kid. He is working on opening a record store up there and he talked excitedly about this idea. He pulled out a photo of his boy out of his wallet to show us, a proud dad moment. I didn’t know he had a kid or wife actually so this was really cool. We talked some about relationships and how it is hard to imagine meeting someone thats the one for you but he said Cara made music too and that it just worked out. I also remember him mentioning Cara’s love for Porches primarily “Pool” but also the recent album “The House” and she’s always listening to the band.

Next I asked about his upcoming Europe tour, he replied rather lackadaisically that he was excited for it and that some shows were selling out already. Europe has always seemed to be ahead of the game in accepting and welcoming more experimental music so this made a lot of sense to me. In general, he said he doesn’t think about the tours to much but his booking manager handles all of that for him and just tells him where to show up. This isn’t surprising though as Rory seems to be making music at breakneck speed with last years Milo album then a Scallops Hotel album “Sovereign Nose Of Your Arrogant Face” released in the first days of the new year. (And in 2018 he’s released the collaborative album Nostrum Grocers and another Milo album titled budding ornithologists are tired of wiery analogies)  Scallops Hotel is Rory’s self produced moniker as Milo is produced by Kenny Segal and usually comes off as more serious and polished. Scallops Hotel also has some incredible music, the album Plain Speaking is probably my second favorite project Rory has made. And I would highly recommend it.

Next I brought up music festivals asking if he had ever played them or wanted to play them because I never saw him on lineups. He said he has played a few but never really attended them because he is kind of homebody and just likes to be alone. I related to this sentiment a lot, creative work done alone is often best. With a chuckle he said that he lives on an island and just likes to stay on his island. I haven’t fact checked this claim but I’ll take his word for it. He also brought up that he’s never really alone now that his kid is around. “I love my baby I don’t know I would do if he would die”

There were a couple funny moments in the night like around 2 when I asked if anyone else was starving and wanted to get pizza to which rory replied “yoooooo yeah” as he sank into the couch corner. A fan gave him a blunt after the show but it was smashed and very thin so he jokingly gave it to my brother on the car ride over to where we were hanging out claiming “I’m not gonna smoke a tiny blunt.” At one point we talked about Black Mirror and how fucked up some of season 4 was.

All through the night there were also periods of silence just spent admiring the music I put on. I played a lot of this album called Black Focus by Yussef Kamaal because I thought it fit the mood well and I thought Rory would like it. He had never heard it but really enjoyed it and said he planned on bumping it back home. I also played the song “The Combine” by John Maus around 3:30 which he said he loved.

Around that time is when the night died out. Rory wanted to nap before his drive back to columbus in just 2 hours so we retired on a long sectional. My head was about two feet from Rory’s feet and I struggled to fall asleep because of the surreal oddity of the situation but around 6 AM was awoken by the slamming of the front door, and he was gone.

I went into the night expecting to see a great Milo show instead I got a good performance blending stand up and performance. Milo interacted with the crowd in a way I’d never seen an artist do. He spoke his mind, he was having fun. Before the show he was in the crowd watching the opener hidden places. He was very approachable as a person. His lyrics packed with “pretentious” references and large words but in interaction he’s just a guy. Milo is currently touring with JPEGMAFIA and Elucid. If you get a chance to see him don’t pass it up.

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