Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: RJD2

DJ returns to the Blue stage with strange ‘plastic discs’

Fun Fun Fun Fest Live Shot: RJD2
photo by John Leach

A couple years ago, DJ Shadow played Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival. The beats were fine, but what left a bigger impression were the murmurs snaking through the crowd that the man responsible for turning cut-and-paste hip-hop into an art form – a man who reportedly owns 60,000 records – had gone digital. A bright, shiny laptop guided his path.

Thus it was heartwarming to watch RJD2 set up the way he’s always set up: four turntables, a sampler, and a duffel bag full of records.

His bizarre, mid-2000s singer-songwriter phase aside, there’s something decidedly dependable about watching the Ohioan’s live show. His Friday Blue stage set was not unlike his headlining set on the Blue stage back at Fun Fun Fun Fest 2010: a handful of dusty grooves, some clever mashups, and a ton of enthusiasm.

RJ has had a restless career. From hip alt-rap and laser-beam soul to a willingness to occasionally pick up the microphone and perform in front of the beats instead of behind them, he’s avoided standing still. Friday proved that. He scurried between his stations, occasionally turning his back to us to pull more records from the collection.

“They make these plastic discs... and I do stuff with them,” he said sheepishly while admiring a slab of vinyl dangling from his fingers.

Nobody ever looked happier being a DJ.

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