DJ Shadow @ SWG3, Glasgow, 27 Feb

On his first live dates for two and a half years, DJ Shadow turns SWG3 on its head with a trippy, hip-hop masterclass

Live Review by Max Sefton | 05 Mar 2020
  • DJ Shadow

“Got any other gigs coming up?” one punter asks a pal tonight, met with the response: “Only Peppa Pig with the kids… I fucking hate Peppa Pig.”

For many, DJ Shadow will always be defined by his seminal 1996 album Endtroducing..... and a good chunk of the crowd seem to have grown up alongside him. DJ Shadow's latest record, Our Pathetic Age, might exude a certain “kids get off my lawn” vibe, committed as it is to retro crate digging, but the audience in the dark warehouse are diverse and good natured. Hip-hop heads and girls in military gear are joined by acid house veterans and thin and speccy student hipsters.

A support slot from Clams Casino sets the scene for the evening. A breakout star for his work with A$AP Rocky spawned a host of cloud rap derivatives; his boom bap hip-hop beats are a good match for DJ Shadow’s bedroom-meets-block party vibe and while he’s not granted use of the mainstage he still manages to leave an upbeat impression.

For our headliner, the stage means a translucent circular screen that wraps all the way around his decks, acting as a three-dimensional stage upon which to project images. It’s an innovative bit of staging that, coupled with the knee-shaking SWG3 soundsystem, is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.

After a brief reminder to leave your phone in your pocket, opener Slingblade is low key and atmospheric but soon we’re into heavier hip-hop territory. Projections of flowers and fire flicker and dart across the ceiling as Shadow slowly winds up the tempos. Nobody Speak (featuring Run the Jewels) is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, while recent collaborations with the likes of Little Dragon and a fizzing Danny Brown cut also get an airing. The best though is Rocket Fuel, an old-school hip-hop banger with guest vocals from De La Soul performed over video footage of astronauts and asteroids.

Later in the set the screen is transformed into a fairground wall of death and – in a moment that draws gasps from members of the audience – a gigantic and terrifying set of jaws. As Shadow pulls off his white hoody and baseball cap and thanks the crowd, it’s clear that he’s still got plenty more for audiences to get their teeth into.