My friend, Sach, and I attended a DJ Krush performance on Tuesday night at the Quest's Ascot Room, an intriguing, "Garden of Eden"-themed hall that, in addition to being Prince's personal club back in the day, was a surprisingly good concert venue. To give you a sense of its hip ambiance, the Ascot Room's murals were, according to Quest's website, painted by "Holly Evans, a Twin Cities based artist who apprenticed under Andy Warhol and Calvin Klein."
The show opened up with two local turntablists of satisfactory skills, though lacking perhaps in the creativity department — the first played a wide-ranging set of various electronic styles, while the second played more of a low-key ambient set that, as Sach pointed out, would have been better suited for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
At about 11 p.m., DJ Krush busted up the scene with a feverish illustration of his mad skills, craftily manipulating and molding his sound like the DJ virtuoso that he is. I recognized only random snippets of various tracks from Krush's more recent albums, especially his latest, 2003's The Message at the Depth on Red Ink Records. With respect to his live performance, nothing can really be characterized as a "song" per se. As with many DJs, his set seems like an audio rendition of a Jackson Pollack painting in that, at any one time, it might appear as though morsels of sound are strewn about to produce a single unit. The Pollock analogy falls short, though, in that Krush intricately shapes his sonic splatters of various turntablist subgenres into a set that flows smoothly, boasting flawless and inventive breakbeat transitions and trip hop sensibilties. The 90-minute set was a compelling display of Krush's talent and style. Ironically, however, the attention given to the exhibition of his skills rendered Krush's set rather inaccessible and was the most notable downside of the event. As Sach analogized in more or fewer words: "I respect Yngwie Malmsteen for his guitar virtuosity, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I'd find agreeable the sounds that come out of his speakers." Maybe the acoustics failed to do justice to DJ Krush's music, or maybe my ignorance prevented me from fully appreciating its live form. Either way, I came away from the show slightly disappointed, though content to have seen one of the most appreciated and respected turntablists on the scene. Nevertheless, my minor letdown with his live performance won't dissuade me from picking up DJ Krush's albums as he releases them.