Band Concert Review
DJ Sasha and John Digweed: Gleaming the Wheels of Steel
Webster Hall - New York City, NY, USA - April 4, 2008
By Sam Frank
Throughout the past few decades America has become a land of refuge for superheroes longing to share their unique powers with humanity. There is the Hulk's brute strength; Ironman's, uh, iron; Superman's ability to fly in blue and red tights without embarrassment; Batman's crime fighting wizardry; and of course, DJ Sasha and John Digweed's ability to keep parties in full swing until the early morning hours; which, in early April,they demonstrated before a live audience at New York City's famed Webster Hall as part of their 2008 Spring Club Tour.
The last time S&D toured America was back in 2002 during their grandiose Delta Heavy tour, a tour that revolutionized America's perception of electronic based dance music. Over a six week run 85,000 fans witnessed the first electronic music event to include touring sound, lighting, laser and video production. "It's been six years since Delta Heavy," John Digweed explained. "Both Sasha and myself have been talking for ages about touring the states together again, but really wanted to go back to our underground roots as recently the only shows we have done together have been massive festival events." Sasha also elaborated on the importance of playing smaller venues, "while Delta Heavy was billed as an arena tour it was the theatres and clubs where John and I had the most fun and where we felt our sound worked best. So this time around we decided to focus on those venues," which is was just one of the many reasons they chose to perform at Webster Hall, a venue that in the past has housed concerts for bands like Faithless, Junkie XL, Infected Mushroom, etc.
Although S&D have presented their sonic wisdom to club-hoppers in cities such as London, Sydney, Singapore, and Hong Kong none have embraced this gift quite like New York City. In 2000, Club Twilo, revered as one of the most beloved nightclubs to grace New York City since Studio 54, gave the U.K. born beatsmiths the last Friday of every month until the "mega" club finally closed in 2001. And, coincidentally, on a Friday almost exactly seven years after Twilo's demise history repeated itself as eager fans congregated inside Webster Hall to hear their dark knights in action.
"This time around we are playing a great selection of clubs with great sound systems rather than big arena shows, which will give our fans a chance to see us in a more intimate environment," John Digweed confessed in a press release; but it was Sasha, not John, who got the show underway with a lush downtempo beat that, through layer additions, morphed into a thumping club track that got fans hyped, and set the evening's tone. Sasha did a great job manipulating the venue's acoustics to fit his more modern sound, but as soon as John Digweed hijacked the turntables left of Sasha the party hit warp speed, and not even Dr. Sulu could have slowed things down. It's amazing how John's sound went from the clubby house tracks prevalent on early Global Underground mix albums to what he spun for the sea of people that crowded Webster Hall in early April: multi-tracked synth-laden rhythms interwoven with an array of hypnotic beats and mesmerizing transitions. Besides the tidal wave of breathtaking ear candy provided by the legendary DJ duo, S&D's mixing station had five lead screen panels behind it which displayed a variety of color patterns and intricate designs; thus, enhancing the overall Sasha and John Digweed live experience. The party concluded at the break of dawn, and like most superheroes, both Sasha and John Digweed vanished into thin air.
This time around, though, both DJs voluntarily traded the glam of a highly publicized tour for the grime of a club tour. Not only do these guys headline huge festivals around the world like you or I go to the movies, but they make a ton of money doing it, so why on Earth would they give all that up for a club tour? Because, like most superheroes, they value the connection with their fans. "You know that's what it's all about," S&D described in an interview. "Giving the people a good time," and that's exactly what they did. The 2008 Spring Tour may have already finished, but don't be sad, you never know when Sasha and John Digweed will rock the party in your neck of the woods.