Published Jun 29, 2012Playing his third consecutive sold-out "Space Cadet Headphone Experience" show in two days, Kid Koala (aka Eric San) appeared calm and satisfied in front of three turntables, pedals, organs and a $150,000 Steinway piano. San informed us that this sit-down space-pod gallery event was six years in the making, a finally realized idea he had after being sick of always standing around at shows, though the reason for the headphones could be traced to him practising at home, not wanting to wake his newborn baby.
With Vid Cousins supporting, one could see San's comfort in front of his childhood hometown crowd. After performing his first track, there came an ethereal untitled collaboration with Damon Albarn slated to appear on a new Dan the Automator-related album, leading San to let out a hardy laugh, a carefree expression of honest passion for his unique, dying form of turntablism. It worked both ways, too, as he let out a guttural yet humorous "ah" after a rare needle skip in the outro to "Skanky Panky" from Some of My Best Friends Are DJs, a track he otherwise killed.
Unlike most of his shows, San had the space and time to vocalize freely this evening. He constantly poked fun at himself, involved lots of audience participation with prize rewards, presented a brief director's commentary for the Space Cadet book/soundtrack, and told the cutest story about a six-year-old San at his piano recital because his classical piano teacher, whom he hadn't seen in 28 years, was in attendance.
When he donned his koala bodysuit, one he's obliged to wear for 100 consecutive shows due to lost bet, he sat at the Steinway and noted how most people try to channel Oscar Peterson at the piano, but he tries to channel Rowlf the Dog. In so many ways, he is like a Muppet. To see him is to want to hug him, and to hear him is to laugh and cry.
Granted, San's skills as a pianist are rudimentary, and in the performance of heartwarming, downtempo odes and lullabies from Space Cadet, the seams were laid bare. Yet, when placed in context with more excitable, beat-heavy tracks from his back catalogue and future releases like "Mosquito Blues" (from his next book/soundtrack project) and the organ-soloing, drum-sampling "1 Bit Blues" (from his first proper solo album in six years 12-Bit Blues), there was no denying his staggering genius. All of his routines are so different from one another, with a wide range styles of scratching and instrumental arrangements. Simply put, San is the Jack White of DJs.