Paul OakenfoldBuffalo Billiards, March 14
Without Paul Oakenfold, few would take instrument-free electronics seriously. He's the great survivor, the last man standing in the ruins of Madchester, the remixer in Goa when his peers couldn't find it on a map. Before the iconic producer's headlining set, DJ Bl3nd epitomized the post-Girl Talk norm: press a button, spray the crowd with Champagne, and leave the machines to their labors. There's no stage-diving for the 49-year-old Oakenfold. Headphones around his neck, he constructed all the trademarks of his stadium-pleasing sound. He's an architect amongst day laborers, designing the grand vision of trance beats with flashes and snatches of truly banging house. Oakenfold's no showman, either. He's a craftsman, an artisan, a sonic tinkerer. The odd nod to crowd participation seemed forced, with some half-raised hands and "grandpa dancing at a wedding" shuffles. Expecting him to dance to his own beats would be like asking a carpenter to jig while turning a table leg. When he concentrated on the samplers, his genius shone. We may not have landed on Planet Perfecto, but it was close enough to see with the naked eye.
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