Real Live Action

DJ Shadow + Cut Chemist


Commodore Ballroom; February 11, 2008

Review By Jordie Yow

These two men will be, if they are not already, legendary. They are the Jimi Hendrix and James Brown of turntablism. They push the manipulation of vinyl to extremes mere mortals could never think of and their to-capacity Vancouver show was proof of that.

DJ Shadow, best known for his epic debut Endtroducing…, and Cut Chemist, half of the production team behind Jurassic 5, played from their vinyl 45 collections on their third tour together, dubbed the Hard Sell. This tour was fairly similar in content to their previous ones together, delivering a mish-mash of sounds that displayed the mind-boggling scratching, blending, beat juggling, you-name-it techniques of the two DJs.

Where this performance differed from what fans had heard before was in stylistic content, which was a whirlwind tour de force of musical styles. From a mash-up of the Gilligan’s Island theme song with “Stairway to Heaven” to the Bubble Bobble theme, they jumped from genre to genre, with visual accompaniment that was just as impressive as the musical show. Heavy on fetishist vinyl imagery, sexualized and coolified images of records bordered on the religious. Adding to the visuals were cameras that let the audience get up close and personal as the incredibly talented performers worked their trade.
Acting as high priests before the audience, the two DJs pushed their turntables in ways only long-practised masters of vinyl could. To end things, they delved heavily into the realm of noise, placing their 45s off centre on the turntable and spinning them like Spirographs to produce heavily distorted psychedelic droning hip-hop—a stunning end to a stunning performance.