LIVE REVIEW: DJ Shadow at Jack Rabbit Slim's
It’s a rare privilege to see such a seminal act in flesh, and DJ Shadow did not disappoint on his May 23rd show at Jack Rabbit Slim’s.
The night started off with a DJ set from Charlie Bucket. The Perth artist set the mood well with choice hip-hop and ambient tracks to a growing crowd. The show was moved to Jack Rabbit Slim’s from the Astor Theatre, but something about the venue seemed perfect for this sort of show, the darkness and intimacy boosting the shadowy vibes of the acts.
DJ Shadow arrived, promising “old songs, new songs, some unreleased songs and songs only THAT GUY will know.” (He said words to this effect, pointing at a particularly excited individual.) And as he promised, he delivered. Shadow’s set was a tour through his vast discography, drawing from classics and deep cuts for a riveting hour and 45 minutes.
Just like the songs he drew from, Shadow’s live setup was a mix of old and new. Watching the legend go from turntable theatrics to electronic drum sets and mixers (run through Ableton Live, I believe) was an incomparable spectacle. There’s a reason this man has so much respect; he is a master live performer, and his scratching skills are something to behold. Add to his magnetic stage presence some mesmerising visual projections, and you have an otherworldly night on your hands.
Finding highlights in such an immersive set is difficult, though it’s fair to say Endtroducing… songs like “The Number Song” and “Building Steam With a Grain of Salt” elicited some of the biggest crowd reactions, as did “Six Days” and his Run the Jewels-collaboration track “Nobody Speak”. Even classic songs were given live makeovers, sometimes mashing in elements from other songs (I’m fairly certain I heard Thom Yorke’s warbling voice sing “She laughs when she's crying, she cries when she's laughing…” at one point), which only went to show how ahead of his time he was. The encore began with an unreleased song, “Corridors”, which wouldn’t sound out of place on a horror movie directed by Baz Luhrmann. His set was paced perfectly, going from dark, ambient tracks to hip-hop grooves, club bangers and abstract experiments.
Overall, DJ Shadow demonstrated a level of commitment to his craft and graciousness to his audience that can be sorely lacking in certain other electronic acts. From shaking the hands of audience members as literal credits rolled to frequent statements regarding how grateful he was to be here, it really felt like both parties (audience and performers) were having the time of their lives. Though he warned that “this could be the last time” he plays on our shores, we can only hope he’s mistaken.