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review and photos by Delaney Bishop 
Cut Chemist and DJ Shadow - Brainfreeze BRAINFREEZE
 El Rey Theater, Los Angeles, CA

Marvski and Cut ChemistPicture a junior high/high school in mid-city LA on the night of the dance in the gym. Walking up, you can hear the screams of delight and roars of the crowd as the DJ mixes the music. Inside, as the dancing goes crazy, one attempts to catch a glance at the DJ doing the magic. Hunched over on stage, a skinny white kid is rockin’ the house: Cut Chemist in 9th grade.

As rewarding as those shows must have been, and as fulfilling as work with Jurassic 5, Ozomatli, and Unity Committee definitely were, the Brainfreeze show on January 12 was hands down the peak of Cut Chemist’s career so far. video gamesInside the sold out El Rey, the first thing you may have noticed were the rows 80’s video games, or it could have been the Slurpee machines, or possibly may have been the video projections containing clips of vintage record pressings and clever 7-11 inspired graphics. Playing DJ Shadow and Cut Chemistthe part of emcee during the opening acts, Cut Chemist wore one of the much-desired ‘Final Brainfreeze Performance’ T-shirts; (the word ‘inch’ replacing the ‘11’ in 7-11) and would later, along with DJ Shadow, change into a green mock 7-11 uniform complete with name tag.

Consistently humorous, Cut admitted he had invited his mother to the show, along with childhood friends. After a full page article in the L.A. Weekly (with full color photo) as well as a guest DJ spot on LA’s Chocolate City the night before, who could be ashamed? Not to mention the live Brainfreeze CD selling out in minutes and inspiring bidding wars on the internet.

DJ Nu-MarkAs his partner in Jurassic, DJ Nu-Mark, and old friend Marvski warmed up the audience, Cut continually reminded us the night would be spun entirely on 45’s. When Z-Trip got on stage, he Z-Tripworked the crowd into a frenzy probably unparalleled yet this year (or millennium). His Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, Dukes of Hazard, Star Wars (I could go on) mixes brought folks to the floor.

At 12:30 no one was tired. Shadow and Cut executed Brainfreeze until after 2 a.m., and the crowd gave love the whole time. Indicated by the screams of admiration at the sometimes-subtle turntable trickery, many-a DJ was in the sweaty trenches. And, unless those DJ’s have conquered they’re primal jealousy-instinct, they went home crying. It’s true, back in 9th grade, even 8th, Cut would get up at 4 a.m. to search the record bins at the swap meets. I joined him once or twice and still own the vinyl he picked for me, released from his grasp only because he already owned it. All the DJ’s on stage that night have been collecting as long if not longer and the fruits of their labor came back though the speakers Jan 12th, ringing in hundreds of ears well into the next day.

DJ Shadow  Cut Chemist

You can’t buy the Brainfreeze CD in stores anymore, and the El Rey marquee will never light up with the words ‘DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist: Dance the Slurp’ ever again. Sorry if you missed it. But look forward to artistry from all these folks in the future, including a different incarnation of 80’s inspired melody mixing from Cut and Shadow.

Review and Photos: Delaney Bishop



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