James Murphy / Tim Sweeney / Shit Robot SAT, Montreal QC - October 1

Let’s not confuse remixing skills with DJ skills. Four years ago, James Murphy may have broken new ground as a remix and production juggernaut, revitalising the cowbell and ushering in an era of disco punk and dancing hipsters, but even then DJing was never his strong suit. Rather, Murphy always appeared to aspire more towards the realm of sophisticated selector, a studio wiz who used the decks to showcase his influences. So, it was with a hefty dose of curiosity that I approached the DFA DJ Tour. The Montreal line-up featured Murphy alongside recent DFA signing Shit Robot and veteran NYC DJ Tim Sweeney. The folks at I Love Neon, who’d billed the evening as "the official Ladytron after party,” hosted the evening. As a result, the Sunday evening started off mildly, as the three DJs tag teamed a patchwork set of primetime leftovers to a mostly empty room. Murphy used much of this quiet stretch to catch up on phone calls. But then the Ladytron show ended and kids began streaming into the SAT in giddy droves. Shit Robot, who looks quite young himself, appeared intimidated by the whole prospect of working up the crowd and so kept his head down, labouring over every transition with the utmost care. In contrast, James Murphy was content to just let anything drop, to hell with mixing, as long as the songs went over well. Sweeney, the man responsible for several of the DFA-issued mix albums, provided a good balance between his two tour mates, but the set never picked up momentum. The DFA crew played it safe, relying on revivalist disco-era club hits to carry the weight of the set, while more melodic house records and a bevy of dance rock remixes filled in the crevices. It was a flat night out overall.