Shlohmo Celebrities, Vancouver BC, December 17
Published Dec 18, 2014Shlohmo started his set 42 minutes late, and wasn't worth the wait. Born Henry Laufer, the Los Angeles producer had a minimal set-up to match his minimal performance. He basically had a laptop with a MIDI controller on which he performed filter sweeps, delays, stutters, and not much else. Contrasting the trap and thug bass that Ekali used to get the dance floor respectably swollen and writhing before his set, Laufer had a deeper sound, though far less atmospheric than the eccentric downtempo sound on which he built his career, then largely abandoned by 2012. Eschewing instrumental hip-hop for more gangsta rap and R&B influences, his new works are certainly more polished and uptempo, crisp and massive, but less contemplative and distinctive, depending more on pre-set percussion and streamlined synthesis than the distorted beats, crate-dug vocals, and processed field recordings that made his albums Shlomoshun Deluxe and Bad Vibes so compelling.
As such, before long, Laufer's set started to glaze over into one big blob, and his performance did nothing to save it. On some tracks, he would spend more time mouthing the words, taking swigs of beer, readjusting his baseball cap, and staggering around than touching the controller. When he was manipulating his controllers, utilizing the few effects previously mentioned, it did not appear that he was taking many real risks with the sound. It looked like he had this set locked down so tightly that he could play it in any condition. It was fine club fodder for grinding, brooding but sexy beats with a hint of glitch, but as a show, it was seriously lacking.
The sound in the venue was stellar, with speaker banks positioned in the four corners of the massive room keeping the sound rich and evenly dispersed throughout, and the lighting rig was fairly impressive, with intricate spotlight sequences and hollow screens sending shapes from behind the stage across the ceiling. The atmosphere on this unfortunate Wednesday evening left much to be desired, though. While the crowd was generally onboard with Shlohmo, dancing constantly and singing the hooks for his remixes of "Colombia" by Young Scooter and "Forget" by Lianne La Havas, the air was musky with farts and perfumes. Worse, someone pulled a Begbie from Trainspotting and tossed an empty beer bottle over his shoulder (thankfully, not off the balcony) that clanked some guy on the head, and someone else got punched in the face with a glass, which probably had something to do with the man being arrested outside just after 2 a.m., with a half-dozen cops hanging around taking statements. It was not a good night for the club, or for Shlohmo.