On Friday, December 14th, DJ Shadow was asked to spin at Miami’s Mansion Nightclub, but only after 35 minutes into his set Shadow was asked to step down from the decks because, according to reports, his set was “too futuristic”.
The Miami show was one of the last tour dates during his sold out “All Basses Covered” Tour which saw DJ Shadow play with no issues in Madison, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, New York, New Orleans, and more in support of his current releases, Reconstructed: The Best Of DJ Shadow and Reconstructed: The Definitive DJ Shadow on Universal Music Enterprises.
To the musically inclined, the sounds provided by Shadow that night came together quite harmoniously; they made sense. As I stood in the crowd, I clearly remember looking around for a moment and witnessing hundreds of people rhythmically bobbing their heads up and down in unison.
With Bass as the main ingredient of the night, Shadow was a master chef in the way he put together this tasty ear candy. He put every last watt of Mansions state of the art sound system to the test and was pushing its multi-million dollar sound system to its limits with his heavy hitting riffs and raffs. Somewhere that night in Miami Shadow left a bad taste in the crowds mouth. But is that really the case?
Perhaps “futuristic” was the best description the management could come up with on this night, and in a way they were right. Though many listeners were fully enveloped in the musical experience, it was almost as if many others were not prepared for what was occurring and were not sure what to make it.
The complaints came from Mansion’s high paying bottle service clientele who were apparently “uncomfortable” with the blend of heavy bass and wobbling reverbs synonymous with a Shadow performance. The question is, who buys bottles for a night out with Shadow and then is surprised by his output? Shadow has remained true to his style for decades, what would have indicated that this night would have been any different?
Who would go to Mansion, with thousands to blow without at least checking in on what type of music was in store? All these questions hang high above the blind sheep that hit the clubs every weekend looking for status above a musical experience. It is just particularly alarming when a nightclub like Mansion, who for years has been at the forefront of Miami’s ultramodern, innovative music scene, folds to the requests of its bottle monkeys. They requested some different music, and anyone who knows DJ Shadow, must know that was not an option.
On this night the management unfortunately decided to go the safer route by simply asking Shadow to step away. Shadow said, “I’ve waited a long time to play here. But they said this shit’s too future for all of y’all. They’re saying y’all want that house music back right?” He then stormed off stage leaving the crowd perplexed and unsure of what to come.
Now this is not the first time that Mansion, has ripped someone of the decks. Last February, they asked Dennis Ferrer to step down because he “was not playing commercial enough” but it is the first time that they experienced such a backlash. Shadow fans poured on the criticism for days following the event to the point where Mansion released this public apology:
“We offer our most sincere apologies to DJ Shadow and his fans for his set being cut short at Mansion this past weekend. This error should not have happened and will not happen again, especially as we pride ourselves on creating an environment that cultivates and respects innovators such as DJ Shadow. We have learned a lot from this error and made changes within our organization to ensure that Mansion’s vision, and the vision of our guests, will never be compromised again.” – Mansion Nightclub, Miami.
Suitable apology? Or just damage control? One of the biggest legends in the world of performance based dj-ing was asked to stop spinning in the middle of his set! I was mind blown; it was as if the management of Mansion360 had no idea who they had booked. Sure, the sounds provided that night by DJ Shadow were far from what typically gets blasted out of the speakers at Mansion on Friday night, but that goes without saying.
We’re talking about a guy who is known for his unique loyalty to tradition as well as his general discontent with the music industry. This is a man who spends his days “digging” through endless amounts of old vinyls, many of which had been untouched for decades, in search of the perfect sound to sample in his next masterpiece.
DJ Shadow is known and revered for sticking to his roots and this is precisely what he did on Friday night. Perhaps the management that night had expected Shadow to adjust his musical style to be more suitable for the typical fist pumping club rat, and shame on them if this was the case.
The disrespect that occurred that night was hard to swallow, especially for those who understand the kind of impact DJ Shadow has had on the music industry. For those who were able to actually appreciate the gut-piercing sounds created in that short half hour, words cannot capture the disappointment felt as Shadow walked away from the turntables.
After all, it isn’t everyday that you get to witness a living legend perform his craft live before your very eyes. In that sense, those who were a part of the experience last Friday night should consider themselves fortunate. Nevertheless, it was slightly off putting, to say the least, when resident DJ Joe Maz followed up Shadows set with ‘Clique’ by Jay Z and Kanye West only for the crowd to go exponentially wilder than they had been in the last half hour. No disrespect to Joe Maz; he played a great intro (and outro) set, but lets be completely real here, he shouldn’t even be wiping the dust off Shadows old vinyls.
One can not help but admire Shadow’s integrity, though. Rather than adjusting his musical style to suit the desires of the venue, he stayed true to his roots. As it becomes more and more obvious that the old school DJ is an endangered species, Shadow is doing his best to prevent it from becoming extinct. The final question remains as to what will become of a genre of music that is being phased out by the popular crowd? Especially when an innovator like Shadow isn’t even given a formidable chance.
Jake Annear | Elite.