CONCERT REVIEW Sasha and Digweed Melt Faces, Shake Booties
Tour Opener at The Estate a Transcendental Dance Experience
Sasha and John Digweed
April 2, 2008
April in Boston can be a rough time for electronic music fans. For those who couldn’t make the pilgrimage last month to Miami for the Winter Music Conference, the perpetual mist and bluster of the northeast might leave the heart yearning for the warm beaches and thumping bass of more hospitable party scenes.
However, a brilliant spec of neon hope shone through for clubbers at last week’s debut of Sasha and John Digweed’s Spring Club Tour 2008 at The Estate. With a rediscovered affinity for smaller venues, the two Brits are back on the road together for the first time since the 2002 Delta Heavy tour, excluding isolated performances like last year’s Bonnaroo. That last tour featured large arena performances that at times smacked more of a rock concert than a rave scene. This time around, superior sound systems and more intimate settings define the month-long tour.
Perhaps inspired by the Addams Family-esque appearance of the dimly lit candelabras and antediluvian chandeliers adorning The Estate, tour opener and Los Angeles resident Kazell (Kevin Bazell) abandoned his usual soulful style and kicked off the night with an hour of deep house and dark techno, leaving some in the audience to wonder if the crowd might be too comatose for the high energy performance to come. But as Digweed took the decks amid the backdrop of a large, pulsating LCD display, it became apparent that the energy in the room would not be contained.
The ride to follow was a throwback to late 90’s club scenes, with silky transitions and melodic riffs punctuated by ripping bass beats. If Kazell matched the haunted atmosphere of The Estate mansion, Digweed transformed it into a high-energy dance palace. By the time Sasha (Alexander Coe) approached the tables, ubiquitous glowstick twirlers had materialized out of the woodwork — blending well with the tour’s hypnotic light display and completing the metamorphosis.
Through an unwavering four hour set, the two engaged in an aural battle for the ecstatic crowd. Between Sasha’s mellifluous, arpeggiated chords and Digweed’s darker drum and bass style, the audience was the only clear winner. The impressive sound system was a boon, accentuating the practiced, subtle technical transitions between tracks. By the time the bouncers were ready to clear the floor, the electronic duo refused to leave the stage. Finishing an encore set with an uplifting electronic cacophony, the two DJ’s clasped hands, triumphant. Panting, faces melted, the satisfied crowd slunk back into the slightly-less-chilly Boston air.
With tour dates spanning the rest of this month, the Spring Club Tour 2008 culminates with a performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival on April 26. For more information visit http://www.djsasha.com/ or http://www.johndigweed.com/.