Let me start this review with a quick shout out to the U Street Music Hall. How the hell had i never been to this excellent venue? Seriously, i’ve been to damn near every juke joint in this berg, and none has a sound system that compares to theirs. Admittedly, i’ve never seen white people dancing so god awfully in my life, but that’s really a small price to pay for some of the most bumping beats inside the Beltway, no?
Unfortunately, i missed the first few minutes of Shigeto’s set, having forgotten how shitty the parking (or lack thereof) is in that neighborhood. Shame on me, as the 45 minutes or so i did see were an exercise in sludge hop funk of the nth degree. During his set, i smelled whiffs of jungle, drum ‘n bass and cosmic slop. The consummate musician, the young maestro also played along to his own beats on the drums, acquitting himself rather sharply. Those chops were as fine or finer than a lot of cats i’ve seen play before last night. The highlight, however, had to be a track that Shigeto announced (and Star Slinger later confirmed) had been written while driving literally the day prior. “I can’t wait to hear what this sounds like” pretty much summed things up.
Shlohmo’s set relied a lot more on his LA hip hop roots. Loaded with grimy, future funk synths, Shlohmo specializes in ominous quicksand beats–there’s no point struggling against them because by the time you realize what’s going on, you’re already up to your neck. Shlo’s set came across like a mixtape he had put together for a room full of friends. He rapped along to every track, played air drums and synths like a pro and clearly knew his material intimately. That level of connectedness clearly roped in the head nodding crowd. Plus, who else is going to spin Waka Flocka, R.L. Grime, Roger Troutman and a Charles Manson rant all during the course of an hour? i was a bit bummed he didn’t play “Places” or anything else from that CD, but i suppose one can only play so many songs in an hour.
Closing things out, Star Slinger clearly was the beathead most interested in moving the crowd. Whereas Shigeto showed off his technical skills and Shlohmo gave a hip hop showcase, the burly and bearded Brit focused his set on chopping and distorting various dance tracks. The highlight for my ears was a chopped “Pass the Dutchie,” though hearing “Do It Myself,” one of my fave SS tracks, was a close second. As the headliner, SS came back for a two-track encore, including one brand new, unnamed joint.
Of the three, Shigeto gets my vote for this particular night. Where Shlohmo and Star Slinger played much more DJ-oriented sets, Shigeto simply showed off his beat chops, creating twisted soundscapes seemingly all of his own design. All three were consummate showmen, indulging and including the crowd throughout the night, so it’s not like anyone put on anything resembling a bad or even mediocre set. Bottom line, when this tour hits your town, get tickets and go. Not only will you be floored by the beats, you might just see someone bust out into the Pee Wee Herman, and that alone is worth the price of admission.
If you do go, make sure to ask all three of them if they’re interested in putting together an exclusive mix for Odd Bloggings. i KNEW there was something i forgot to do last night.