“Hey bro, where is everybody?” Asked a concert go-er waiting on doors to open. “We drove here from Chicago and there’s no one here!” “Don’t worry man,” I responded while setting up par cans outside to wash the front of the old church converted into a concert venue, “I promise you this place will fill up real quick.” Sure enough 45 minutes later people lined up anxiously waiting to see RJD2 in Columbus, Ohio.
In this world filled with people who call themselves “Djs” there’s a lot of hate thrown around to the people who just sit back and press play. RJD2 is one of the few that do not fall into this category. I think he should probably change his name to “The Flash” based off the amount he moves between his 4 turntables, 2 mixers, 2 MPC’s, and his box of records. Not only is he jumping from various pieces of hardware, but it’s also all on vinyl, something that is becoming more and more rare in the age of software such as Serato and Traktor. The 4 tables were linked in pairs with Rane TTM 56S performance mixers while on the outskirts of the two 6 foot long tables he utilized were 2 Korg padKontrols for sample triggers and percussion.
As his set time approached, RJ dawned a hazmat suit and welding helmet back stage. While the crew and I watched in a slight state of confusion, it slowly came together to make sense. Inside the helmet was a small wireless mic that was being routed through an Electro Harmonix Voice Box, giving his voice a layered, gritty, vocoded sound. On the front of the hazmat suit was a, MPC belt buckle complete with wireless system. As he ran out on stage shouting from within his welding mask he starts going crazy on the MPC out on center stage. As the crowd cheered in amazement at how intricately he was developing beats just from 16 pads, he rips off his helmet and suit and settles in behind his tables to get the concert rolling.
For this show, RJ wasn’t alone on stage. He brought his friend and drummer Chuck Palmer with him. I began to notice a trend through out the night where RJ would start a track on one of his turntables, then jump over to one of the Korg padKontrols to lay down a rhythm closely followed by Palmer filling in with drums. “It adds a physical element to what he’s already doing and helps hype the crowd,” says Palmer, and sure enough the crowd went crazy.
As the night came to an end the crowd settled and slowly left the old church with their ears ringing from the onslaught of sounds. As I helped the crew start packing up, I ran into the homeboy from Chicago who showed up first for the show and asked him of it was worth the six hour drive. Dripping with sweat he just smiled, nodded his head, and left venue to start his journey back home.
Check out this fan submitted video of RJD2 performing The Final Frontier featuring Blueprint: