Monday, April 14, 2008

DJs Sasha and John Digweed play an emotionless show to a mesmerized crowd

There were a few disappointed fans at this show. Not because of the performance, but because of a sold-out performance they came to see and could not get into.

DJ Sasha and John Digweed have not played in Chicago together in six years, and from the head count and amount of merchandise being sold, it was apparent that they had been missed.

Ascending to the main floor inside the House of Blues, the crowd grew louder as I finally reached a spot right by the stage—right where the sound was kicking everyone’s asses. The sound was immense. While super-smooth thuds shook the entire building and possibly the hotel next door, submerging, dominating beats and crispness consistently entranced the crowd.

Well past midnight, with no announcement, Sasha appeared after their guest DJ finished a hearty set. The digital screens surrounding him began to boast amazing effects—lighted, geometric shapes and patterns mesmerized the massive crowd—as it followed a track from his recent CD release.

After a good hour, Digweed was behind him, getting tracks ready. While the set progressed and the crowd swayed and chanted in bliss, the two DJs displayed little emotion or movement. They remained barely visible in front of a deep, dark and mysterious set, adding to the overall theme. There were no build-ups accompanied by pretty vocal tracks; just eerie, quiet breaks and then blasting bass again—perfect for the mindset of minimalists or people really “gone.”

While the mysteriousness of the set was that like the DJs themselves – just up there, unannounced, emotionless, and motionless – it wasn’t so effective two and a half hours later. Where was the performance? We had been watching two guys play on a laptop for a few hours. Other DJs get into their set and allow for the crowd to dictate what will follow while was difficult to tell whether or not Sasha and Digweed were feeling the crowd vibe. For this kind of techno, buy the CD, turn on some cool lights, and listen to it at home. Otherwise wait for Carl Cox to come back. -Anthony Regan