RJD2 very well may be the last man standing. In an industry that's been revolutionized by computers and the use of advanced music software, DJ R.J. Krohn may be the last big name analog DJ out there. His show on Friday the 27th here in Denver proved that although he may be the last of a dying breed, he certainly can still hold his own against the digital revolution.
Friday's show at The Bluebird was a showcase of all different types of electronic music. Local group Human Agency opened up the show with their own unique brand of DJ work, focusing more on samples of instruments like flutes and violins, instead of the typical serving of electronic MIDI instruments, which gave their mixes a unique sound. The use of a live drummer was another facet of their set that really stuck out to me. Although it’s not completely unheard of, I feel like the use of a live drummer adds a lot to the sound and feeling of the set. It gives the audience a gentle reminder that what they're hearing is still a unique creation, built by musicians like any other song. To top it off? All of their music is available free through their Bandcamp site so go check them out and show the local talent some love.
Next to take stage was a one-man act called Wick It The Instigator. Starting his set with a slew of mash-ups, ranging from Beyoncé’s “Crazy in Love” vs. Lil Jon's “Get Low” to Adele, and even Modest Mouse, the crowd quickly warmed up to the likes of this DJ. As his set continued, his beats progressed into thicker, more bass-driven beats, which eventually evolved into hard-hitting dubstep. The crowd obviously loved the set, front to end, I know I did! For Friday’s show being his first time performing in Denver, Wicked left a huge impression on the crowd, and I’m sure he’ll be welcomed back to the Mile High city any time he comes through.
The stage finally dimmed around 10:30pm, and RJD2 took the stage in an outrageous costume, complete with a “crotch pad” to make “crotch pad music”. The energy in the room was undeniable, as the audience watched the DJ go to work on four turntables at once. Krohn’s talent and skill is one in a million. His ability to run four turntables is one thing, but doing so without any kind of tracking from a computer? Or any help at all? Sure, the man might have a set list like any other band, but rather than each member remembering his/her parts, Krohn deals with four separate instruments all at once without seeming to miss a beat. To top it off, he’s found a way to seamlessly integrate live video feeds into his performance, so his audience can actually watch what he’s doing. “Hopefully, when you see stuff and hear stuff at the same time some synergy [happens] in your brain” he said as the first feed of the night started, and my oh my was he correct. I found watching the feed mesmerizing, watching his fingers create countless sounds, beats, and rhythms. He even got some help from a miniaturized, stuffed Mario halfway through the set, which I loved!
Beginning to end, RJD2’s set was unmatched in my eye. I watched without looking away once throughout the entire performance, and was ecstatic when he willingly reappeared to the stage for an encore after he finished. In the middle of the set, he said “I guess I’m the dinosaur in this shit cause I got my records still. I have my Apple TV at home, but still!” he had exclaimed towards the middle of his set, while fidgeting with the immense stack of vinyl behind him. Dinosaur or not, the sold out crowd at the Bluebird on Friday had chosen him over likely competitors like Blackalicious, Atmosphere, and more all playing the Mile High City the same night and I think they made the right decision. I hope anyone who’s interested in electronic music takes the opportunity to see him the next time he’s in town, I think his style gives new light to a dying art form, one that all electronic music fans should understand and appreciate.