For my birthday treat last night I went and saw my favorite mix-master DJ Shadow (first time for me) at the Roseland theater. He was accompanied by a DJ I didn't know by the name of Cut Chemist playing one of the last three shows of a yearlong project they called the Hard Sell.
After enduring the many indignities of the Roseland (every time I go there I'm reminded of why I rarely go there), such as the security search that all but left me needing a cigarette afterward, the 45 minute wait just to be able to get up to the balcony and get a drink, and the hordes of ganja-reeking hipsters, I was able to kick back and enjoy the show.
Let me just say this: we may live in an era when ever other person you meet claims to be a DJ, but real ones, like Shadow and Cut Chemist, are so far above the cut it isn't even funny. They had an entertaining, retro-style projected video intro that explained some of the tricks of the DJ trade, such as using precisely-placed strips of tape to create loops. They did it all without computers, using only turntables, pedals and an echo machine (not being an amateur DJ, I don't really know all the lingo so bear with me here.) They used only 45s, and each of them had a couple of hundred close at hand.
I was especially impressed with the variety of styles they brought into play: heavy metal, country, old-school funk, hip-hop, strange, obscure covers (such as a woman singing the Gilligan's Island theme song to Zeppelin's 'Stairway to Heaven' music). They displayed a great sense of humor, consummate artistry in skills I don't even pretend to understand, and had a great rapport; they were just a couple of guys up there doing what they do best, and it showed. If anyone has a chance to see either of these guys, I'd highly recommend it. Makes me want to go see more hip-hop oriented shows; Mos Def, the Hieroglyphics crew, and others are coming in the next couple of months and I might just put up with the Roseland bullshit to see such quality acts.