All photos: Kevin Hulse
I missed this concert. Thus, I’m going to review my feelings about Datsik, and even further, my thoughts about live EDM at this juncture.
I love reviewing concerts. Of all of the many variations on the theme of music journalism, the concert review is easily my favorite. There’s something about the physicality of it, in seeing an artist perform their music unadorned by the magic of post-produced manipulation that is wonderful. Some artists win at the art of live performance, and thus gain new fans, develop a mainstream following, and become superstars. There are those as well whose live performances leave much to be desired, and, without gimmickry or other accouterments will continue to fall short. EDM in the live performance realm is strange. There’s a thought that if a DJ just got up on unadorned stage and played a masterful set, that it would be enough. Well, you’re wrong. DJs are the new rock stars, and thus, no matter how talented – or not so much – the mixer, the set is accompanied by bright lights, obsequious staging, and a premium on the experience. This isn’t just Adele singing a song, this is Adele singing a song IMPROVED, and the sound and style must reflect that.
If you hate “EDM,” then Datsik (aka Canadian born producer Troy Beetles) could easily be your least favorite producer. A fan of kung-fu, the Wu-Tang Clan and underground progressive dance, his sound is so much classic hip-hop swagger blended with crunchy punishing and powerful dubstep. Melody as aggression, sturm und drang, the beauty in power. Seeing him on the same billing as Alvin Risk and Steve Aoki last year at Fillmore Silver Spring was quite the experience. His sound, namely hit tracks “King Kong” and “Firepower” literally filled every space in the venue. Underground, the sound plus one thousand pairs of moshing feet literally had the venue’s concrete floor vibrating with energy. Sans earplugs, whether upstairs or downstairs in Silver Spring that night your eardrums didn’t hear sound so much as they absorbed an experience.
He’s not the world’s greatest DJ, but in dubstep at the American pop level now literally resembling a Korn concert, that doesn’t matter. Tracks aren’t so much magnificently blended as they are dropped from the skies like Fat Man and Little Boy, venues being turned into Hiroshima and Nagasaki type massacres in their wake. Maybe that’s why some attendees at these events prepare in the manner that they do; it looks, sounds and feels like Armageddon If the end of the world is coming, then I’m going to look and feel like I’ve never looked and felt ever before.
I’m angry at myself for being sick, tired, run down and missing this event. Datsik’s popularity is at a point where he should be headlining events. He’s not better than anyone else at what he does but in being unique and at the crest of dubstep’s wave deserves the honor. Now a label head (Firepower Records), I would’ve loved to have heard how well his largely hip-hop derived sound has collided with trap and moombahton, especially given that DC/Richmond duo Gent & Jawns remixed “King Kong” into a moombahton monster. The potential of hearing the duo’s instant classics – brand spanking new trap anthem “Turn Up” and moombahton legend “Vibrate” next to his dubstep monstrosities was an exciting notion for sure.
But I didn’t see it. Hower Kevin Hulse’s camera lens did, and I trust it as much as I trust myself. Wow. What a time.