CONCERT: DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist (The Hard Sell): The 930 Club, Washington, DC, July 16th, 2008

It’s hard for me to judge a DJ performance, having only seen a few. I went to this concert with a love for DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing . . . and respect for Chemist’s work with Jurrasic 5. I had seen videos of Chemist performing, and thought it would be cool. I was mainly there for DJ shadow, however. The show was interesting, but I wouldn’t say it was anything special. Honestly, I would have loved to have just heard some Endtroducing tracks or just a set of darker more Shadowy mixes, but because it was a “Hard Sell” show, there was none of that to be found. What we got instead, which was explicitly explained by the informative video prior to the performance, was mixes of popular songs found on 45″s only. It was very cool to watch the two of them mix these records live, using nothing but some type of tape(used to create live loops), effects pedals, mixers, and record players to do it, but at the same time, the songs weren’t so great. After all, it is about the music, not about how difficult it is to create the outcome. Some of the stuff didn’t even sound so good. For two of the most famous underground DJs of all time, the music did not sound as spot on as it should have. There were, however, some very nice mash-ups, but nothing blew me away, although the songs got progressively better as the night went on. I liked the darker more psychedelic stuff they began working with towards the end. Also, it was very cool when the two emerged from their workspace with portable, neck strap equipped, 45″ players which whirred and whizzed with each scratch.

Aside from the music, the visuals on the screens behind them did catch my attention. Dozens of cameras captured them at work, including one on Cut Chemist’s wrist that contributed a shaky shot of his scratching. All of these shots were at times layered together to create a psychedelic amalgamation of visuals on the two screens behind the DJs.

It was fun to watch Shadow and Chemist at work, I just wish that the music had done a little more for me. Definitely not a bad, show, just nothing extraordinary. What they were doing obviously takes a great deal of talent and hard work, but the music is most important, and it could have been stronger.

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About Drew Litowitz

Sound advice.
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