With the quick, unforeseen resurgence of vinyl records, two distinguished DJs recently embarked on a personal journey to celebrate and re-establish the history and influence of our old plastic friend. California-based DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist, two capable and wickedly talented turntablists on their own, launched what sounded like one of the most innovative DJ-centric shows in recent times. In the midst of the long-awaited battle, however, something went wrong. Armed with eight turntables and 45rpm, seven-inch singles as their only ammunition, the soi-disant Hard Sell Tour fell short of what the standard issue press release claimed. While the description of the show packed loads of punchâ€”assuring “tricks and complexity rarely attempted by a DJ duo”â€”the actual performance failed to deliver anything out of the ordinary. The stage’s setup impressed the eyes much more than the duo’s sound pleased the ears, with the two vinyl mavens hiding behind several large panels of thick plastic and sharing eight turntables, four mixers, two guitar loop pedals, and a shitload of records.
Disappointingly though, Shadow’s and Chemist’s onstage showcase could have easily been upstaged by one mixmaster, say Diplo, using only two turntables. To make things fair, using only vinyl records Shadow and Chemist couldn’t perform anything close to what a laptop-based DJ like Diplo could create. Even so, the DJ duo never unleashed the promised mash-ups, the expected genre-blending mixes, or the out-of-the-box scratching Shadow and Chemist are known to bring.
Instead, the two replaced what would have been an electrifying performance with a mediocre show of so-called mixing and limited scratching, an obvious mistake since a majority of the fans anxiously awaited either or both of the DJs to unload havoc on the turntables. Not so.
Shadow and Chemist did, however, rock an assorted mix of eclectic tracks and genres, blasting everything from a stadium-rock version of the “Gilligan’s Island” theme to The Pharcyde, Queen, Blondie, Foo Fighters, Jefferson Airplane, and Metallica. In the end, a simple iTunes shuffle coupled with a turntable scratch here and there could have replaced Shadow’s and Chemist’s show while fans danced unknowingly.