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REVIEW: Kid 606: live in Montreal, 17/08/03
9.4.2003 by Kevin


On August 17th, the Tigerbeat 6 "Paws Across America" caravan took a detour into sunny Montreal, playing to the chandelier-lit hall called La Salla Rossa. DJ Rupture, jungle-swinger Dwayne Sodahberk and electronic star Kid 606 put together a night of turntablism and laptop danceparties. Our man Kevin J was there, trying desperately to connect.

Electronic/DJ shows have been host to both some of the best and some of the worst live experiences of my life. The worst was more than four years ago in Ottawa. The headliner was New York's Bowery Electric, who later threw a tantrum and refused to play when they learned they weren't going to be getting their full guarantee – even after setting up all their gear and sound checking. The opener, however, was little batter; Main sat completely still in front of a computer and mixer, twisting knobs every now and then for an excruciating forty-five minutes. On the other hand, a recent Kid Koala show had him winning over the audience with a combination of self-deprecating humor, wit and child-like energy.

I entered La Sala Rossa on Sunday night with only a general idea of what Kid 606 sounded like, and with a lot of hype surrounding DJ Rupture, who would be playing before him. I arrived at about 9:20 and by 10:00 the venue was adequately full but not close to being sold out. The stage was arrayed with enough Apple laptops to make a Mac geek drool, and a curious setup of three turntables to the left.

Starting things off was Dwayne Sodahberk, a shaggy-haired, pale, stone-faced young man who would not look out of place as a member of Radiohead. With a PowerBook and a mixer, Sodahberk unenthusiastically unleashed his brand of hard jungle/noise that left the audience bored. Sodahberk seemed to think that he was still in his bedroom with overpriced headphones for he didn't once look up at the audience he was performing for. It didn't much matter as almost everyone took a seat, whether at tables lining the side of the room or on the floor, and patiently awaited the end of his set.

DJ Rupture came out next and got the party started. Everyone got up off their feet as the three turntables were quickly put to use. Mixing everything from ambient to Indian pop to a timely sample of someone repeating the definition of the word "blackout," DJ Rupture's flow was impeccable and he had everyone in the crowd moving. A well-used sample of the mad percussion on Missy Elliot's "Get Ur Freak On" evoked cheers from the audience. Every now and then DJ Rupture would try to incorporate some noise or complicate the beat, but he wisely realized that a moving and dancing audience was a happy audience, and he continued to deliver his set worthy of a New Year's Eve party.

As DJ Rupture's final sample was fading out, Kid 606 got right to work firing up his two laptops and immediately letting loose an almost steady stream of jungle, noise, rave and hip hop. Ignorant of DJ Rupture's set, Kid 606 also sampled "Get Ur Freak On," albiet with less success, and turned a Casio keyboard version of the Sex Pistols' "God Save The Queen" into a wall of noise that would make Phil Spector proud, perhaps making the song more "punk" than Johnny Rotten and company ever could.

About forty minutes into Kid 606's set a realization came over me – I hadn't heard any of these musicians say one word. The absence of an on-stage microphone irked me and my mind wandered to The Best Show Of My Entire Life, namely The Flaming Lips in Montreal last week. There, Wayne Coyne couldn't thank his audience enough for coming, and he let them know that he too was glad to be there. The Tigerbeat 6 crew can't even bother to say "hi," let alone put a microphone a stage - and that left a sour taste in my mouth. While Kid 606 moved and headbanged and seemed to be having a great time, even he couldn't care less if there was one or one-hundred people in the crowd. He looked up every now and then as if surprised people were dancing, but I would wager that if everyone left, Kid 606 would be more concerned with the glow of light from his Apple computers.

Perhaps it's unfair to compare this show to The Greatest Event You Of Your Life, but it does point something out. People pay money to see shows, and yes hear the music, but also to connect with the artists that inspire them. And I'm sure if you ask any performer, the majority of them will talk about the experience of "connecting with an audience." Most musicians will do something to try an engage an audience even if it's lame stage banter, but the effort is often appreciated. It's too bad the Paws Across America tour was only concerned with connecting the laptop AC adaptors into the nearest wall outlet.




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