Dj Shadow & Cut Chemist ‘Renegades Of Rhythm’ @ Motion – A Reflection

Art & Culture

This was no ordinary gig!

Officially the 'Renegades of Rhythm Tour' celebrating the legacy of hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa sees DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist at the helm of six turntables, some very old drum machines, with a whole bunch of live sampling thrown in for good measure.

The inspiration for the tour came from Bambaataa himself. Having donated his entire record collection to Cornell University, a hefty 40,000+ pieces of vinyl gold, DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist were invited to sift through the collection taking 1000s of records back with them to studiously piece together this tour. These records weren’t just the records Bambaataa broke back in the day, they’re the same records he would have been playing way back in the Bronx. Shadow and Cut Chemist describe the real gems from the collection as “Sureshots", real beat up vinyl with torn sleeves with the record labels scratched off. The ones that were clearly loved, the records that had been played, sampled and dropped at countless parties, these tunes, Bambaataa’s original sureshots, were about to get a re-run.

In short it sounded fucking wicked and me, Matthias and the sell out crowd at Motion were waiting in delirious anticipation as DJ Moneyshot warmed up those still feeling the cold in Motion's main room. They came on to stage to a suitably noisy Bristol crowd, we’re not known for being quiet in the West! They introduced themselves, they introduced Bambaataa and his records, and talked about the significance of his music. It felt like a lecture at points. This was an education, a passing on of something culturally significant. You could tell this was an honour for them to be playing these records.

The first half of the gig was a mish-mash of riotous drumming, tribal rhythms chopped in over funk, afrobeat, soul, calypso and early electro breaks, leading into disco and arriving at a fevered end with Cut Chemist playing an original drum machine from Grand Master Flash whilst Shadow furiously went at his Roland SPD drums. This had the crowd and myself in total awe of the spectacle unfolding in front of us. This gig had really hit a peak and once again they took to the mic to set up the next part of the show.

If a phrase could sum up the next 45 minutes, Ronnie Gee’s “The Sounds You Are About To Hear May Be Devastating To Your Ear" was an omen of the things to come. They took us further and further into Bambaataa’s own era as a musician and the softer edged funk bass of the first half was replaced by arching synths and chest shaking 808 kicks. The visuals twisted and turned with some very cool artwork and old photos rehacked into a moving backdrop. The crowd here were lost in the moment, transfixed by the effortless yet deadly precision with which these two were ripping through our sonic defenses. Unlike most turntable heavy shows, the crowd here were moving, everyone was worked up into a frenzy by the time they called time on the night.

Motion was the perfect venue. The crowd bobbed and buoyed to the beats like shadow puppets; like the ebb and flow of the river that runs alongside the club. The professor and puppet master, of course, were DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist.

A must if you get the chance, see this tour!