What adjectives should we use to describe RJD2? Musical archaeologist? Electronic maestro? Ranconteur? Gentleman scholar?
All of those apply, but his live set brings up two words: master entertainer.
In 2014, the image of “electronic live act” summons the images of someone dancing behind a laptop, perhaps with some sort of mask or crazy headgear that would make members of the seduction community envious. Not this guy; sure, some weird headgear showed up during the set but we’ll get to that. RJD2’s weapons of choice were five turntables, two MPCs, the aforementioned laptop, and enough vinyl to make Rob Fleming/Gordon’s heart palpatate.
We walked in a little late from seeing New Madrid’s amazing set at the Bouqet just in time for “Bus Stop Bitties” and the crowd was in full force. We hung back and took in a macro view of the show. It allowed us to see Ramble John work up a sweat in the chilly Boise night as he put one record on, took one off, put another under his arm, and tap on his MPC. The flurry of motion was just as entertaining as his music as he traversed through The Horror to More Is Than Isn’t with a few stops in the albums between. He added his own touch to the already amazing Mad Men theme, and somehow made it even cooler.
Then this happened.
Throughout the day, people in giant monster finger puppet costumes were wandering around the festival, and showed up on other stages as well. But there was something about them bouncing around to “The Horror” that made it the iconic image of Treefort 2014 in my mind.
What I’ll take away from RJD2’s set was those dancing monsters, and the way he laughed when he grabbed the wrong record and rolled with the gaffe, never missing a beat and changing the dynamic of the song like he meant it all along. That is the beauty of the master entertainer, having that human element and rolling with the punches, and I’m glad the city of Boise got treated to such entertainers all weekend.
Clay is a regular contributor and co-founder at Nanobot. He lives in Denver, CO and is a husband, dad, bacon afficionado and fearer of the Amazon drone delivery system