Mark Farina gets funky at the Fox Theatre with DJ Rootz and Pillowfight
There's a covenant involved when listening to live music: You give your attention and energy to the musician, and in exchange, they provide you with some kind of experience that (IMO) should be crafted to capture that attention and suspend time. Mark Farina never disappoints in this arena, and his supporting acts last night are well on their way to learning this particular brand of magic.
I missed AA but made it to the Fox in time to hear the end of Boulder's DJ Rootz set; he was playing with Sublime's "Summertime," mixing in the lyrics with heavy, distorted bass fluctuating up and down. Although he described himself as an electro/trip-hop DJ, he's has clearly been experimenting with dubstep lately, blending in a relatively slow, intelligent beat with deep, dirty, vibrating basslines and unusual vocal combos (DJ Assault's "Sex on the Beach" remix came into the equation).
It made for an interesting blend, offering up these nearly-R&B ballads with quick, tight synthetic drumlines straight from the opening credits of an '80s movie. On this night, Rootz would build up the energy, frantic and speedy -- reminiscent of happy hardcore, one genre of electronic music I'm glad we don't hear much of these days -- before dropping into slick, dark and dirty tracks to keep the crowd dancing.
Rootz was using a computer and a sampler to create his live PA, which I always find interesting to watch, but I thought he took his build-ups too far to the lighter end of distortion, using noises that reached cartoon-like proportions before returning to his slower, syncopated basslines and beat. He dropped in the opening riffs of the Beastie Boys's "Sabotage," and then mixed it with their later hit, "Intergalactic."
The choice of track was interesting, but Rootz's transitions are not always smooth -- and the problem with using long samples from a well-known song like "Sabotage" is that people begin to want to hear the rest of the song instead of wondering where you'll go next with your sampling. Overall, it was a solid set, but with a little tweaking and improvements here and there, DJ Rootz could turn the solid set into a stellar one.