DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON January 30

DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist Phoenix Concert Theatre, Toronto ON January 30
After knocking out essential mixes such as Brainfreeze and Product Placement, these two producers felt the need to up the weirdness for their latest DJ road show by going beyond the usual blend of funk and hip-hop and incorporating all sorts of genres as well as exploring the world of live sampling. Before the needle was dropped on the first record, a fantastic and humorous video introduction (animated by Ben Stokes) explained the process of what we were about to see: Shadow and Cut Chemist using an eight-turntable monster set-up with foot pedals to control loops and on-the-spot sampling. This technique was best demonstrated when the two began recreating Pharcyde and De La Soul anthems using all the original breaks (on seven-inch vinyl), including a powerful and flawless recreation of JVC Force’s "Strong Island” by breaking out some Freda Payne and Public Enemy wax. The first half of the routine wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary, except for an oddball Gilligan’s Island-meets-Led Zeppelin remix. In the second half, things began with an infamous and crushing Billy Squier break with some added Queen drums to create a hypnotising track that continued to twist and blend into Spanish rhythms, records misplaced and taped to the platter to create live warps — they even managed to toss in "I Only Have Eyes for You” by the Flamingos. The finale of the show included the pair coming from behind the decks with a portable turntable/mixer comb strapped to their chest with which they proceeded to scratch furiously on top of a Metallica joint — needless to say Shadow and Cut Chemist delivered on their promise to travel an entire range of music for their Hard Sell mix. Though sometimes the music took a back seat to turntable trickery and music experimentation, there’s no denying that this California combination of notorious crate-diggers definitely catapulted the live DJ experience into something a whole lot more than watching some cat mix one record into another.