If you’re even the slightest bit into electronic artists, then you’ve probably heard of RJD2. I have some good memories of my friend Seth and I blasting RJD2 on our way to ride trails in Pisgah National Forest when I lived back in NC. Music has a funny way of doing that; sometimes you don’t remember the tracks, but they add to the day’s experiences. Chances are if you made a conscious decision to attend Treefort, it’s safe to say you wanted to experience music of all kinds. DJs have been around for decades, but not really in the modern capacity. Most have been traditionally limited to clubs, parties, and otherwise non-festival events. But now you have these mega-festivals, such as Ultra this past weekend in Miami among many others. So why shouldn’t Treefort offer up a taste along with their unique group of up-and-coming artists?
Looking across the crowd during his set revealed a slew of mostly younger faces. The ground-level stacks rolled off a spectrum of sound and from a photo pit perspective, it was loud; no question about that. I cheated and put in earplugs. But when you’re that close to the drivers producing sound for the entire venue it actually makes it easier to hear the higher frequency nuances throughout his set. Something I liked to see him doing was using actual analog records to layer some traditional DJ tricks on top of his base tracks he was playing. A lot of DJs are going the way of electric turntables, but there’s an audible subtlety and even a nostalgic cool-factor about dragging a needle across an LP. The set itself was well balanced and kept the crowd going the entire ~1.5 hours. At what I believe was roughly halfway through, the Treefort monsters (costume designs after life-size finger puppets from years back) joined him on stage for a few tracks. At this point you could tell even RJD2 himself was having fun – as evidenced by a few of my photos. Towards the end of his set, he had burned through so many LPs that he had to start scratching up what looked like 45s (but may have been 78s, I don’t think I’m old enough to know for sure from a distance). After taking a moment of silence for the the records that laid down their lives for our Treefort enjoyment, the set came to a close.
Ultimately, RJD2’s set was very enjoyable. He created a great mix of simple 4/4, punchy beats with some more complexity in highly layered tracks. The cool thing about Treefort is that almost all of the artists I saw perform were willing to mingle with fans after their show. This was no exception; RJ came down from the elevated stage and shook hands, took pictures, and chatted with his fans who hung around the front row railing. Since I am writing a review-type article, I have a bit of freedom to express my own opinion. There are a number of DJs who make their living playing these big festivals and selling out venues who, more or less, just press play on stage and look busy for 2 hours. Those whom I refer to present a very canned experience to people who pay quite a bit of good money to see a performance. RJD2 is one of the few who I believe really takes the time to think through his sets and embellish what is necessary atop his tracks not just to do something, but to enhance the melody and rhythm. The apparent simplicity in much of his style really follows what I think more artists should perform by and that is: just because you can play a note, doesn’t mean you should. Rambling aside, I really had a good time at the show and think it was a well spent Saturday evening. If you were there, I hope you agree.