DJ Shadow came to Boston for inspiration and for feedback. The massively influential turntabilist is in process of crafting a new record. “It’s been a long time, Boston… How long has it been since I played a solo show here?”
The reaction to Shadow’s hyphy-influenced 2006 LP The Outsider (we loved it btw) was divisive, even among his core fanbase. Leading the DJ to question, “Repeat Endtroducing over and over again? That was never, ever in the game plan. Fuck that. So I think it’s time for certain fans to decide if they are fans of the album, or the artist.” At the show, Shadow stated he wanted to get the “temperature of the fans”. And as such is likely the nature of the Shadowsphere tour to engage with, connect to, and re-inspire not only his fans but the artist himself with them. And the fans came out.
“Shadowsphere awaiting host.” A diverse mass of 1000 plus; from hip hop heads to dreadlocked dudes; middle aged and beyond husbands and wives to gangly college and high school kids feverishly awaited their host’s impending arrival. The kids were loud, chants of “Shadow, Shadow, Shadow, Shadow” greeted the DJ as he entered stage, greeted the crowd, and took to inside the Shadowsphere.
The Shadowsphere, a spherical canvas ball of maybe 15-20 feet in diameter stood starkly onstage against a wider film screen-like background. With the first few notes of “Building Steam with a Grain of Salt.” The sphere and screen lit up, exploding visually into a collage of imagery. Images of stars, planets & the depths of space grew into time lapse footage of plants and flowers and into more grating, disturbing images of hate and warfare. The shadowsphere itself was often used a 3-D imaged object against the screen background. The shadowsphere transformed into an eyeball within the eye socket of a human face and into a baseball hurling through Yankee Stadium. “A lot of people say DJ’ing as an art form is dead or its in decline. …..(I think its) only progressing, moving forward. ….Much through shows like this ….and visuals like this…..”, spoke Shadow a varying points throughout the set.
The bass shaked and rumbled, moved first from your core, jarring you, then spreading, pulsing through limbs and into your appendages, rattling you. Shadow’s use of his own canon of material as means to showcase his fluency with more contemporarily informed beats was really really cool. Using elements of drum and bass and other more European rhythmic forms, familiar jams like “Six Days” and “Organ Donor” were transformed. Breathing that currency of action and motivation, revelation that what is new can inspire, the emotional relationship the fan has with those songs and their familiarity, that convergence made for a truly moving listening experience.
“I’ll definitely be back. See you next year.” said Shadow at the close of his main set. Awesome. We’ll definitely be back too.
DJ Shadow – Six Days (Remix) (Feat. Mos Def)
DJ Shadow – This Time (I’m Gonna Try It My Way)