Event Review: The Bizarrely Endearing Dreams of Giraffage
Play this while you read this:
I remember wanting to get there early to see the openers, but as I’m sure many of you know, trying to get even a small group of people organized and out the door is like trying to corral a herd of puppies. We ended up walking in just as his set was wrapping up. So, perfect timing for Porter in one sense, but man, I can tell you now that we missed out.
I can’t remember where I read this, and Google hasn’t been much help, but I feel like it’s really applicable.
A DJ plays what he wants to hear.
A good DJ plays what the audience wants to hear.
A great DJ gets the audience to hear what he wants to hear.
In this sense, Charlie Yin is a great DJ.
Here’s the truth. As a whole, his show at Neumo’s on February 19th was weird. There were these bizarre visuals of cats and dolphins and gorillas playing on the screen behind him, he kept including iPhone sound effects and that “uh huh honey” sample that we’ve so lovingly come to associate with Yeezy, and his track selection was interesting to say the least. I got the feeling the Charlie was just kind of doing whatever he wanted the whole time.
And it worked. In a totally charming, totally cool and digestible way, it all worked.
It worked because the ambiance was simple, yet amazingly effective – just rows of lights on either side of his decks that would light up and flicker bright colors deluded by this low fog that cast a dreamy atmosphere across the far over capacity Neumo’s. I can’t imagine what this would have looked like on a larger scale.
It worked because of how often I found myself wondering where he dug up some off the wall remix, only to discover upon looking them up at home that every single track was one of his own. From his slowed down distortion of “Party in the USA” to his remix of R. Kelly’s ‘Ignition” remix to a somehow even more magical version of the Cranberries “Dream” that is still stuck in my head a week later…his music was off beat, quirky, and at it’s very core, fun.
But most of all, it worked because Charlie didn’t try to be anything he wasn’t.
You really can’t swing a dead cat without finding some article about how all electronic music released today sounds exactly the same. We’re not going to get into that now, but I will say that I think it’s really easy for DJs and producers to play it safe. There’s no way around how popular this scene is and people are really receptive to a formula that has been proven to work. The best thing about Giraffage is that he takes risks. A remix of “Who Let the Dogs Out?” is not something that would be well received in a lot of sets. That’s something that Deadmau5 would do as a giant middle finger at the end of a festival set. But Charlie did it completely earnestly and we all recognized that. In the end, it’s not so much that he’s developed a style and show persona that he likes, but this style and show persona is Charlie Yin.
I have this tendency when I go to midweek shows where I promise myself I’m not going to stay the whole time and try to get to bed at reasonable hour. Almost inevitably, I end up staying until closing, and just let future Erik deal with those consequences. Giraffage made that decision really easy. I was on the hook from the moment he opened with some indie video game soundtrack that I had to Shazam until he closed it all up with “Sandstorm.”
If anything, at one point he had the following clip on loop for a solid five minutes. And if you know much about me, that made the night worth it on it’s own.
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