Before I describe Drew Lustman’s a.k.a. FaltyDL’s performance, or lack thereof, it’s worth mentioning what to expect from DJ/producers when seeing them live. Unless they’re actually using vinyl to scratch and mix, you don’t really know how much they’re actually doing on stage. Most of the time, they stand behind their laptop and some electronics wearing headphones and making subtle dance moves, if any at all. I walked into The Depot’s stage room hearing the same synth key pulsing. It was great to build anticipation, but what I saw was being talked about in the audience more than the music. Lustman was wearing a Ramones T-shirt, had tattooed arms and sat down for his entire set. Honestly, he looked liked he was studying. He had his laptop and a sample pad in front of him. He would tune the bass in and out and cue vocal stabs. Occasionally he would bob his head to his own beats but for the majority, he just sat back while using his hands to play his music. It did sound occasionally like he played a few songs live, building them while adding each piece right onstage with his pad and laptop. The music was loud, danceable, and never stopped. He had a London thrash dub flair to his technique. The bass was fast but he would throw in soulful female vocal stabs that gave the music a dubstep flavor. It was never melodic until towards the end of the set when he began adding some darker synths and bells. Though he was boring to watch, a crowd of 30 people stood around the stage the entire set, some dancing more than others. Then the music stopped. Lustman stood up, shook one hand and walked off stage with his equipment.
Maybe Lustman felt comfortable sitting down the entire set because he knew the headliners would do the same thing. James Blake and his live band comprised three members total, and they did an incredible job. Blake’s voice and synth instruments—like the Roland drum pad and ebow on guitar—all sounded better live than on his albums. Band members sat spaced apart with their instruments and when Blake would speak, he was extremely polite. His voice seduced the women, whether singing or speaking. He was grateful when he said, “Thanks for bringing us here.” The 24 year old is humble enough to recognize his growing fame is due to his fans’ appreciation. They say you can’t hear an accent when someone sings, but his British accent gives his voice such signature flair. It does resemble Sampha or Bon Iver, but it’s so natural and soulful. He played many songs from his most recent release, Overgrown, and his self-titled release. My favorites were “Voyeur” and “To The Last.” “Voyeur” has an extremely fast-paced synth section that had neon lights flashing and everybody dancing. It was memorable to hear a song like that and see each member sitting still behind their instruments while everything else moved so rapidly. On stage there were three spotlights spaced an equal distance from each other sitting behind the players. Inside were candles and the lights were cued to the beat. “To The Last” has a calm drum section to it, and the ambiance created lasted through the entire show. That ambiance and Blake’s voice made for the most respectful and quiet audience I’ve been a part of for a concert. When Blake performs live, he will record and loop his vocals on stage. It would always be the first take and you could hear the audience cheer, as they would recognize the song. Those cheers were recorded in the loops and would last throughout the song. It was amazing to see those kinds of touches hush the audience even more in awe and add to the uniqueness of our very own James Blake performance. The band was quick to return to stage for an encore. First, they graced us with “Wilhelm Scream” and then only Blake remained on stage to perform his cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Case of You.” It was a classy way to end a spectacular evening.