1 a.m. at Hailey's Club
Billed as the first hip-hop event of the 35 Conferette, Thursday night's show at Hailey's was the most illustrious lineup Denton has seen in the genre for a very long time.
And, given the festival's proclivity toward indie rock and folk music, it was possible that a show headlined by Cut Chemist at a venue that was charging $25 for non-wristband-toting individuals could have been poorly attended.
And, for the first few hours of the night, it seemed like that could be the case.
When Dem Southernfolkz took the stage, though, their performance, replete as it was with references to life growing up as black men, got through to the overwhelmingly caucasian crowd. And their band, which offered up bluesy guitar solos and jazz virtuosity on the keys, was as on-point as a hip-hop backing band needs to be. Their inclusion provided an energy that was much more appropriate for the live environment than the carefully produced cleanliness of their songs' album versions. DSFZ ended their with a series of mini encores that, again, seemed to stir the crowd.
And, by the time Cut Chemist (aka Lucas MacFadden) took the stage with his arsenal of gear splayed out along two tables, said crowd had swelled into a room-packing mass.
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MacFadden displayed an astounding, world-class proficiency on not just the turntables, but on the various CD-Js, samplers and other equipment at his disposal during the set. Going back and forth between some seriously masterful beat-juggling, scratching and blending, he would, arms fully extended, cue another track from his CD-J, and literally run to the reach the other mixer's crossfader in time to keep the beat going.
There were even times when he displayed his drumming abilities by tapping out live beats with his sampler, manipulating the samples' pitches. And he even once managed to tweak out a riff from Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" using only an arpeggiated snare.
And, as MacFadden was busy with the sound, his visual artist provided a nonstop collage of visual stimulation, with live VJing projected on a screen just behind the two.
Apart from a few awkward pauses -- chalked up to "condensation" -- MacFadden's set was worlds apart from the offerings of most DJs, even touring ones. By throwing in some classic Jurassic 5 for good measure, he lived up to and surpassed his hype as the festival's opening-night headlining hip-hop act.