DJ Vadim / First Rate Sonar, Vancouver BC - March 21, 2003

The difference between DJing and producing too often becomes painfully clear when you discover your favourite beat-maker can't read a crowd to save their life, or when the genius who can keep you dancing all night puts out an embarrassment of an album. Then there are the few that excel at both. DJ Vadim could have fallen into the latter category if he hadn't made such strong statements about the need for hip-hop to progress in an interview published the day before his set with First Rate. "Looping up old James Brown records? That's been done," he said in the Georgia Straight. Now, he was talking about producing hip-hop, but his assertion that "in some sense, it's still music for babies" went a long way to setting up expectations for his DJ set. So what did he play? Well, a lot of Motown, actually, including "Get Up," plus the Beastie Boys and reggae towards the end. It wasn't a bad set. In fact, there was a section where increasing thirst had to be ignored, as leaving the floor was inconceivable. Moreover, First Rate showed off some of his nifty scratching, using his forearms, tummy, chin and also resting the turntable on the nape of his neck and scratching. It's just that it was more of the same old same old. Perhaps this does attest to Vadim effectively reading the crowd, which was its usual mix of appreciaters, jocks and people who just thought it would be cool to go to Sonar on Friday night. And perhaps enlightenment can be gleaned from Vadim's The Art of Listening, but it certainly wasn't provoked by this show.