DJ Shadow - Freeze Festival 2012 review
'An educator as well as an entertainer'
Virtual Festivals - 27 October 2012
“I like to play some fucked up experimental shit,” announces DJ Shadow, stepping up to play the headline set at Friday’s Freeze Festival. “I don’t
play too many hits.” It’s an out of kilter statement at a festival that has been entertained almost exclusively
by 'hits' all day. Earlier this evening, garage legend DJ EZ
warmed up a chilly main stage with a CD wallet packed full of classics; and while the calibre of the day’s other big
acts – Ms Dynamite, The Nextmen – can’t be questioned, experimental they
Still, it’s the first time in 15 years that Shadow has played a show like this in the UK. That, and his next promise that “everything’s gonna have bass”, is enough to keep by far the largest crowd of the day interested as he launches into a spacey intro composed almost entirely of earth shattering, rolling bassline. It’s the kind of music that used to be called dubstep, before that was a byword for screechy moshpit soundtracks.
“Another thing you might know about me,” interjects Shadow. “No laptop!” Huge projector screens flanking the stage show his hands scuttling back and forth across the mixer, creating a shifting landscape of beats, hats and chopped up vocal samples. It’s the antidote to the prod-the-Mac-and-stand-back-waving-your-arms style of DJing that seems to dominate big rooms and festival stages of late. True to his word, the bass bins rattle throughout. It would be easy to say that the headline slot of a festival main stage is no place to experiment, but in fact it’s the huge racks and bins that really make this set what it is.
Highlights include a blast of tech-step drum and bass, accompanied by Shadow on drum pads loaded with hits and vocal snippets; and a west coast hip hop tinged segment that celebrates his California origins. If there’s a criticism, it’s that there aren’t enough of these moments of pure fun.
In a world of overblown wobble, predictable drops and hysterical MC’s, DJ Shadow is a educator as well as an entertainer. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait 15 years for the next lesson.
By Lisa Key