Well, O-dub and Jeff Weiss have already written reviews much more poignant and comprehensive than any write-up you should ever expect to get from me, but I still have a few things to say about Sunday night’s “Hard Sell” set from DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist at The Hollywood Bowl. On the way to the show I was lucky enough to meet two lovely ladies who invited me to join them for their pre-show picnic with plenty of snacks and wine. Turns out that Kellianne has a blog of her own that’s pretty awesome as well. You can check out her critique of the show here.
First of all as Mr. Weiss already pointed out it is extremely validating for anyone to obtain a headlining spot at a venue as prestigious as the Hollywood Bowl. I remember when I first came to LA how awe inspiring the premise of such a historic venue was to me before I had even been there for a show personally. The fact that Shadow and Chemist were not only performing there, but during the opening weekend nonetheless says a lot about the respect that is finally coming to the world of turntablism. I can’t help but be reminded of the scene in Scratch where they interviewed many of the NAMM attendees about their opinions of the artform.
The first time I went to the Bowl I sat in the bench seats and found the crowd to be a little too rowdy for my tastes (at least during that particular show). The next time I went I intended to surprise my date with box seats for one of her favorite acts but she called me a week before the show and said she had run off to Atlanta and gotten engaged (That’s a whole other story). But the point is I found that section to be a little to prim and proper for me that time around. So I went ahead and sprung for Superseats this time around to test out the vibe in that section.
It was this way that I ended up surrounded by several season ticket holders who are known to frequent the venue regardless of who is billed for any particular night. Being the outgoing fella that I am, I soon found myself explaining exactly just who Shadow and Chemist were and what my neighbors should expect from the show. (I should also note that neither DJ ever spoke into any microphones so I also had to point out who was who.) I told them about Cut Chemist’s background with Ozomatli and Jurassic 5 as well as the amazing solo album he released which was our top album of 2006 here at The Alternakids. I explained how DJ Shadow had helped pioneer the “trip-hop” movement during the mid 90’s along with bands such as Portishead and Massive Attack (who actually played the Bowl last year) and I gave a brief synopsis of the concept of the previous two collaborative sets they have done together. I guess I’ll give a few more details here for the benefit of those who wanted more history.
Both avid vinyl collectors, Shadow and Chemist built their first all 45 set Brainfreeze around an rare odd little promo 7-inch put out by the 7-Eleven convenience stores.
The set not only showcased their mutually vast collections of rarities, but also proved to be a stunning display of their craft being completely mixed live and all on the 7-inch format. As explained in the introduction to Sundays performance this provides challenges in the sense that the records not only spin faster on the turntable than the typical 12-inch records usually used, but the DJ has less “real estate” with which to manipulate the record.
The two then followed this act a few years later with Product Placement a set based around similar concepts, this time incorporating several more promotional records from several commercial corporations into the mix.
I remember picking up a copy of the tour DVD for Product Placement and playing it in the storefront at the pro audio company I was working for at the time. Having haphazardly dismissed the concept of “DJ as composer” as a gimmick, it was revealing to watch the reactions of seasoned musicians who could finally respect watching the turntable really being utilized as an instrument on it’s own. It was equally interesting to listen to the collectors and audiophiles lament about the fact that they wished they knew how to find many of the records being used in the mix.
So naturally I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to see the next stage in the saga take place in person. As far as my personal opinion of the show, I was definitely glad to be there, and while it was a good performance, great even… I have to say it wasn’t quite as good as the previous two efforts, but there are several factors that contribute to me saying that. First of all the concept this time around was a little different, and the aim seemed to be more about creating a sound collage rather than focusing on the funk breaks of the previous two efforts. In that regard I think the choices in selection and assembly were rather well done, but it really just comes down to a matter of overall personal preference. In any regard it’s always nice to see these guys show off their versatility. I mean Shadow himself has been heard to say that he doesn’t consider himself a “scratch DJ”, but the set he did for XFM recently posted up over at Solesides (not to be confused with Soul Sides) seems to say otherwise.
Other than that there were a few noticeable hiccups throughout the night, but ultimately they were forgivable, especially in light of the fact that the whole performance was put together in only something like 7 days. The highlights for me personally were when they recreated several classic hip-hop breaks from scratch (obviously), as well as when they ended the set scratching along to epic Metallica guitar solos with portable turntables and mixers hanging at their waists a-la Cut Chemist’s previous highlight on the Coachella DVD. I also thought that the cool “up-the-sleeve” cameras were a nice touch allowing those of us in the audience to watch as the music was being manipulated close-up.
All in all another great show that I’m glad to say I witnessed. From here the show goes to Europe where hopefully the kinks will be smoothed out and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to get a recap back in the states sometime this fall. I’m also crossing my fingers for another DVD release. Here are the European dates scheduled so far:
Sat. Aug 11, 2007 (Osaka, Japan) and
Sun. Aug 12, 2007 (Tokyo, Japan)
Before they get into all that though, those of you in LA should stop by Funky Sole this Saturday for the very last time. I just found out that Star Shoes will be closing their doors and this is the final night they have the gig there. I’m pretty confident Cut Chemist will be in the house as he regularly spins along with Egon and Music Man Miles. I’m also told there will be several special guests making appearances throughout the night. Could Shadow show up as well for an encore of Sunday night? I guess you’ll just have to show up and see. I mean it’s free, so what do you have to lose?
Today for your bonus you’ll have to excuse me for going off on a tangent… but GO SEE THE NEW DIE HARD MOVIE RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!! For a guy who works in the entertainment industry I don’t get out to the theaters nearly as often as one might think, but this is easily the best movie Ive seen so far this year. And this is coming from someone who’s pretty much written off “summer blockbusters” and most of the “action” genre as a whole. I haven’t been this pumped while in the theater in a very, very long time.
Without giving too much away here’s my 21 point synopsis of the plot to this… and now that I think about it all of the other movies in the series.
- It’s a holiday weekend
- Something sinister is going down
- John McClane’s home life sucks
- Hey McClane can you do us this favor?
- A bunch of bad guys and one hot chick start wreaking havoc
- McClane tries to find out just what he’s gotten himself into
- The bad guys go after McClane
- McClane starts to put together the pieces
- The we find out the hot chick is more than just good looks
- McClane kills a bunch of the bad guys and then they go after someone he loves
- Yipee-ki-yay motha….
Oh, and somewhere in there they play “Rock n’ Roll Queen” by The Subways which is a pretty kick-ass song.
Do yourself a favor and get to the theater A.S.A.P.
P.S. – Who do you think is more bad ass, John McClane or Jack Bauer?