Photos and Words by Joey Dunst
As always, a cold (but not really quite as cold – January in Minnesota, what are you up to?) evening greeted the crowd who turned out for DJ Shadow’s new release tour. Shadow, real name Joshua Davis, has been in the industry for some 30 odd years, gaining infamy for producing the first album made entirely of samples (Entroducing…, and if you haven’t heard it, check it here because it is a masterpiece), then later landing a feature of Run the Jewels on “Nobody Speak”. Shadow is a household name in the underground, so it’s really not a shock that despite his relative anonymity amongst the broader mainstream, First Avenue was as packed as it could possibly be to see Shadow’s first tour (as he mentioned – in possible 7+ years) in support of his brand new album – Action Adventure.
Portuguese DJ Holly opened for the intimate show. Holly brought an impressively multifaceted background of sounds with him, including a feature I appreciated very much – a live cut/beatmatch of a track off of Burial’s album Untrue (which, once again – another masterpiece, check it here). Holly’s blend of breakbeat and easier-going, smoother styles of electronic music created an engaging juxtaposition that left the listener unable to guess where he might drive his music next.
DJ Shadow came onto the stage shortly after the end of Holly’s set. A short introductory track announcing that the setlist would be online, and that audiences please refrain from using electronic devices, and then a smorgasbord of sounds washed over the audience. Starting with a cut from 2019’s Our Pathetic Age, Shadow worked his way across music from all across his discography (though, notably, not from anything prior to The Mountain Will Fall for a good chunk of the set). It wasn’t until after an interlude that we really turned back time (with a choice cut of Entroducing… in “What Does Your Soul Look Like”). It really was a pleasure to hear from his entire discography because Shadow has covered a lot of ground in 3 decades – the jazzier, stripped back productions on his earlier releases sat comfortably next to the excess and bombast of some of his later work, maintaining a cohesion throughout that demonstrated his ability to be a jack of all trades when it comes to creating vivid soundscapes.
Shadow closed out the night with a few popular hits (including a rendition of Nobody Speak right before the encore) and a final track to close the night of Organ Donor. Hopefully DJ Shadow is back again soon!