dj shows are a mixed bag, at best, but when i saw that one of my favorite ninja tune acts, neotropic, was playing at club six, i decided to brave uncertainty and go hear the mix…

the good news? i got to meet riz maslen, enigmatic front woman of the "band". the bad news?

the electronic flyers for the show indicated that the club opened its doors at 10pm. there was to be one opening act, a band whose name escapes me (most opening acts seem to suffer from this problem, whether or not they deserve it). as fate would have it, elaine had to work early the next day, so i braved the show alone – club six is usually a great time, what’s the worst that could happen?

when a club doesn’t specify the starting time for a dj show, one is guaranteed two things:

  • if you go early, the show will start late
  • if you go late, the show will be over by the time you get there

not wanting to miss the show, i went early. better safe than sorry, right? i figured i could have a drink or two, dance a bit to whatever electronic beats were filling the club, and then see a great show after wearing myself out…
(bzzzt…wrong answer!)

there were no beats. club six closed off the bottom floor of the club to let the dj’s prepare. the top floor, meanwhile, was occupied by a private birthday party, sans dance floor and the music that goes with it.

i sat in the corner, people-watching as best i could, until about 12:30am, when they opened the bottom floor. once they did, again, the beats were absent, and the anxious "crowd" had to wait until the opening act, who came on at about 12:45am and played a slightly unremarkable set that lasted about an hour…

after the show, people milled about, waiting for the headliner. the club was about a third full, if that…not a good turnout to say the least. when neotropic finally came on at about 1:45am, the people who were there were clearly ready for a show.

the first song came up to scattered cheers, and then dissipated into a mix of ‘massive attack’ after about one minute…technical problems. riz had come without her band, and was hence using an apple powerbook as a stand-in…
after about 10 minutes, she started playing again, but the technology gods were aligned against her. the entire set was a wash…nothing sounded as it should have, she kept fighting her equipment, and the crowd dwindled and dwindled, finally losing interest and leaving before she was done. by the last song, there were four or five staunch fans swaying unconvincingly on the dance floor, trying to provide encouragement…the show ended with a whimper, as she fought and lost to her powerbook. when she was done, all she could do was hang her head and bang it against the keyboard.

it’s not the worst show i’ve ever seen, but given that neotropic is one of my favorite acts, it might as well have been.
the bright spot? while waiting for the show upstairs, a woman with spiky dyed hair came up next to me at the bar. sure enough…riz maslen.

(sheepishly) excuse me…are you playing tonight? are you riz maslen?
why yes, i am…
oh…i LOVE your music! i’ve been a fan ever since you were born! i followed you through the english public school system, seeing your potential all the time, waiting for that day when you would break free of the oppressive tyranny of blah blah blah blah blah…you’re a genius!
(genuine smile) thank you!

yes, i played the sickeningly adoring fan, just for a moment. it was ugly, but at least it made up for everything else…she was very nice, and clearly appreciated the support.

so, my advice to those of you who go to see dj shows – leave your expectations in the cellar, go early, stay late, and remember – it’s all about being a fan.

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