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All photos: Joy Asico
All Words: JEB Gavin
Hi. My name is JEB, and I have a problem with criticism. Specifically, I over-analyze even when it is unnecessary. Take for example, Tuesday’s DJ Shadow show at the Fillmore in Silver Spring. Make no mistake about it: this was a great show. He is an amazing DJ and the show itself was impressive: he had his DJ rig set up within a ball wrapped in a light screen, so graphics would interact between the ball and the back screen, giving the images the appearance of three dimensions. Yet I still find myself questioning, picking apart, and reconsidering.
Again, the show was impressive. The man is very nearly unmatched behind turntables, able to reconstruct and tweak his tracks at will, despite the myriad or sources and samples used. But the show feels slightly lacking because this music is based on such careful and delicate manipulation of existing pieces of music: the art is in the composition, and composition is better suited to a recital than a show. The elegance and magic of seeing a single person weave such a complicated and beautiful piece of art is in stark contrast to the idea of a show, where you are entertained by the spectacle as well as the creation of music.


It is possible I was the only person in the crowd who felt this way. Even at a show for hyper-intelligent dance music, I have a tendency to go overboard in thinking about it. The crowd was a hodgepodge of crate-digging nerds, serious students of electronic composition, wannabe hip-hop producers, Euro-trash scenesters, Day-Glo-clad raver chicks, that one dude from the frat who no one suspects is way into orchestral electronica, and a whole slew of bored girlfriends. And everyone seemed to get whatever it is they came for; no one walked out of the show unsatisfied. It still felt as though there could have been more of whatever it was you sought- more time to dance, as tracks switched tempo or style on a whim; deeper cuts or obscure samples; more popular, less cerebral tracks played back to back; some turntable pyrotechnics. It seems the only people truly contented were the ones who showed up to stare at the light show.


The lights, while maddening for a photographer, were nevertheless spectacular. Multiple projectors worked in concert to make it appear as though the spherical screen was the Death Star, destroying planets behind it, or balls being tossed, thrown, hit, or kicked from the surface of the background screen. Hands reached out to crush the ball, chainsaws to cut it in half, lasers to etch upon its surface. At times the ball appeared to be the sun as seen through an x-ray telescope, waves of radiation coming off the surface. This was a wonderful show. I want more people to listen to DJ Shadow and go to see him spin. He is an excellent artist. I’m the one yucking the yum; finding fault. I’m the one with the problem.

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