A robotic RJD2. Photo: facebook.com/rjd2
I waded through the sea of Discrete beanies and plaid button-ups lined up outside of The Depot for RJD2 on Saturday night and ran right into Skyler Thomas, one of Discrete's designers and all-around cool guys. Apparently Discrete was sponsoring the show! Well, that makes sense, I thought, 'cause RJD2's smooth beats are featured on a bunch of action sports clips, which is what Discrete's all about. I made plans to use my tall date to snag one of the beanies Skyler mentioned he'd be throwing out to the crowd before RJD2's set and moved on in.
Once inside, I couldn't help but notice how The Depot's totally set up like the Hard Rock in Vegas. Anybody else get that vibe from the infinite staircases you have to weave your way through to get to the stage? Last time I saw RJD2 it was at the Urban Lounge, which I kinda dug 'cause it's a little more intimate, but he's obviously outgrown the place (I'm pretty sure he played to a sold-out show there last year) 'cause The Depot was packed tight.
Local hip hop artist Burnell Washburn started the show, spitting on stage to a somewhat disinterested crowd, not yet inebriated enough to show any enthusiasm towards his call-and-response efforts, but courteous enough to raise a glass when he asked who liked to snowboard.
Next up was a band that kind of took me off guard, but all of the white, middle-aged burn-outs hanging out at The Depot and trying to be "with it" by making awkward waves with their arms to Washburn's beats all of a sudden made sense once New Body Electric started playing. I didn't realize they were local until just now, which moved them up a few points, 'cause it's not like they were bad at playing their instruments or anything, but the music was a little too … funky for me—something your "cool" uncle might listen to, the one who doesn't tuck in his button-up dress shirt and wears his hair kinda long.
After my show buddy and I amusedly watched that one guy who's always dancing alone in the corner (you know the guy) for a bit, we were ready for RJD2 to take over, and everyone else was getting kind of antsy, too.
Enter the robot.
I had stepped out of the main room to find the bathroom, and once I Google mapped my way back, I was greeted by some guy in a fancy robot costume making dick jokes in a warped robotic voice. OK, I thought to myself, I know it said on the marquee "RJD2 and Friends," but this is overkill. Are a bunch of guys in bear suits gonna show up and start kickboxing the robot next? Just as I was about to voice my complaints, the robot says, "You didn't come here to see me, you're here for RJD2," at which point he took his robot head off, climbed behind the turntables and unzipped his suit. Hell yeah.
RJD2 started doing his thing: grabbing records from his collection and throwing them onto the tables while he scratched and pressed and flicked at his setup like a porn star at an orgy. I had a little less energy that night, so I wasn't the dancing fool I'd been at Urban the year before, but it was cool to see the show from the sidelines, especially since The Depot has these big screens everywhere that were giving us close-ups of RJ's table. The rest of the crowd and RJ were definitely on a higher level than I was, though, quite literally (puffs of smoke will inevitably rise from this kind of crowd without fail). As RJ played soul-driven jams from his extensive discography, all remixed just enough that they were familiar but fresh, his energy was mirrored onto the audience of 1200 or so foot-tapping fiends. When I saw RJD2 at Urban, he seemed a little bit somber on stage, focused in on his music and not so much his fans. This time, he was totally feeling their vibe, putting on this shit-eating grin to tell us how stoked he was to be up there. At one point he even said, "This is the most fun I've had on stage for a long time." Fuck yeah Salt Lake! Sitting still in my chair was becoming much more difficult as the show went on, but I was hypnotized by his restless hands flying over the screens, interrupted by weird video clips of people working in factories using their own restless limbs. "I hope your eyeballs and earholes are syncing up," said RJ at one point, referencing the images.
Whether you're in the mood to dance, or just want to witness what a REAL DJ looks and sounds like, don't miss out on RJD2 next time he comes through town. I've got a map of The Depot now, if he ends up there again.