There have been a handful of good shows booked there in the past year or two, but for some reason I just never made it over there. However, soon after arriving there Friday night, it quickly became apparent that I was not missing much.
The most glaring criticism of the venue so far has been its lousy sound. And sure enough, the sound did indeed suck. Not in a muddy, distorted, or shredded speaker kind of way, but in a harsh, metallic...waaay too much treble kind of way that makes you run to the bar to grab some earplugs. (thank you Bottle staff for providing earplugs!!) Now that MP Shows will be utilizing the space as a full-time venue, plans are in the works to correct the poor sound with a new, permanent PA system. Hopefully the new installation will also include extensive acoustic paneling as well, because the sound problem seems to be caused more by the poor acoustics of a big square room with numerous windows and high ceilings, rather than the poor sound of a particular PA system.
Also, while I'm bitching...the drinks sucked big time as well. The beer selection was awful, (I actually drank a Corona)and the mixed drinks were small and full of ice. Certainly not up to par with the fine selection and quality service found at the Empty Bottle. Again, like the sound, this might completely change once MP Shows takes over the space on a full-time level.
OK, so I was a bit annoyed with the harsh acoustics, and I couldn't get a decent buzz from the bar...but most importantly, how were the actual performances?? I walked in just as the DJ set from Diplo began. He started off strong, mashing up some classic alternative tracks with some hot beats underneath. However, his set ran thin rather quickly and soon the crowd, like myself, was losing interest. His transitions started to become a bit disjunct and random, and his set was never able to gain any real momentum. I'm not sure if he just had too much time to fill, was having a bad night, or is still a bit inexperienced playing live on the road. Whatever the case, the Diplo set was a bit disappointing.
Fortunately, unlike everything else that night, the set from RJD2, did not let me down. Once his set heated up, all thoughts of poor sound and watered-down drinks were completely forgotten.
RJ provided yet another brilliant and seamless set that was impressive in both terms of its technical skill and in its pure musical enjoyment. What I think I like best about RJD2 is that not only is he able to recreate the magic laid down on his records, he's actually able to improve upon the experience in a live setting. (sort of like how the Flaming Lips are somehow able to make their genius Soft Bulletin album an even more amazing experience live)
For an encore, RJD2 pulled out yet another trick, but this time it didn't come from his DJ bag. He actually stepped out from behind the decks and sang a ballad from his new record, accompanied by just an acoustic guitar. A seriously gutsy and potentially catastrophic endeavor, RJ nailed the song, and put a completely brilliant but unexpected end to an already great night of music.
RJD2 is easily my favorite DJ/Producer of the moment, and is arguably one of the finest talents out there right now. If you haven't seen him live yet, definitely mark your calendar the next time RJD2 comes to town. In meantime, run out to the record store and check out his amazing full length records on Def Jux, 2002's Dead Ringer and this year's Since We Last Spoke.