Shlohmo is one fearless dude. If there is anyone else left in the room doubting that at this point, I really think they need to come forward if for nothing else than to just have a talk. Last year, Henry Laufer dropped an EP with R&B god Jeremih on his own record label, WEDIDIT, and shared a stage with the likes of Cashmere Cat and Baauer at festivals like Pemberton. This year, Shlohmo canned all the hype and party-centric vibes to drop one of the most emotionally rendering electronic records of the year with Dark Red, and along with it, he announced a live A/V tour with a full band including likeminded electronic guru D33J. With accompanying sets from WEDIDIT signees Purple and Nick Melons, Shlohmo showcased his brand in impeccable form. There's a reason why WEDIDIT is blowing people's minds right now, and that reason is a guy named Henry Laufer. Last Friday night at Neumos, as part of Decibel's Micro dB Fest, we got the man in the flesh putting down a set like nobody would believe for another sold out crowd. It's all in a days work for Shlohmo.
Is anyone else even qualified to open up a WEDIDIT collective set compared to Nick Melons? This dude been spinning killer DJ sets alongside Shlohmo and D33J and RL Grime for years and years. Thus, joining Shlohmo and Purple on this tour seems like a given. Sure enough, Nick Melons opened up the night with pure gold, chopping and screwing tracks and slowing them down to the point of almost complete ambiguity. Never once submitting to just playing a track the crowd would recognize, he kept the energy entirely in his own court for the entirety of a 70 minute set. As the party people continued to pack in the door, Nick Melons kept everything live and kicked off the night in excellent fashion.
While both Nick Melons and Shlohmo have shown their faces around the Internet quite a bit in the last couple years, it's much harder to track down anything about mysterious signee Purple that isn't available on the WEDIDIT Soundcloud page. The dude is incredibly mysterious, but we do know a couple facts. One, he put out a great EP called Salvation last November. Two, he's putting out an LP called Silence & Remorse this June. Purple threw plenty at the Friday night crowd from his new record, including the two singles "Never Come Back" and "Extinction". Though soft-spoken, Purple's production and execution are both quite intriguing, mixing R&B textures with a super spacey overlay. His dark presence on stage caught fire in the crowd, leading to plenty of dancing and quite a bit of making out interspersed in the middle. Silence & Remorse will definitely be one to look for in several months for the summer bummer jam of the year.
Last time Shlohmo hit Neumos, he was on a tower of bricks, with neon icons and pillars serving as the night's only lights, playing banger after banger of pure dance magic. After blasting through Dark Red's two opening tracks "Ten Days of Falling" and "Meet Ur Maker", it was almost disconcerting to see Henry Laufer pick up a guitar. I've seen that dude throw massive dance parties as a DJ and introspective production overload off the deep end. But something about seeing him rip with the same exact intensity and pure adoration for the tunes he's created on a traditional instrument - something about that just put Shlohmo even higher on my list than he already was. Hearing and seeing Dark Red as a full band effort gives the record context it otherwise wouldn't ever have. Seeing Laufer aside D33J on the guitars and keys while drummer Bill holds things down on both the actual drums and the drum pad, we got to see Shlohmo operate in the world that he's created, unadulterated, taken to full capacity. The crowd slowed down from the furious dance party they thought they were getting and just fell into a trance, watching the band onstage showcase the captivating tunes of Dark Red in pitch perfect fashion. And as the guitars for "Buried" squeal, there's goosebumps on the back of every neck in the building.
Laufer deviated from Dark Red only twice on tonight's setlist, once for Laid Out climax "Later" and for one cut from 2011's Bad Vibes. But the setlist choice wasn't one for showcase - rather, this time around, Laufer is making a statement. Dark Red is a record that doesn't play well with others. It fits Laufer's style and not many others. You won't be finding much of it in DJ sets headlining huge festivals like the ones that Laufer himself has played in past years. No, Dark Red and this tour to accompany it are both a personal statement from Shlohmo about the state of the company. Laufer has brought WEDIDIT to where it is through toil and trouble and now, he's showing off its full potential beyond the parties and the weed and the pop music. Tonight's show was rapturous in execution. Not a soul walked out of Neumos untouched by the music at hand. And it's all thanks to Shlohmo, D33J, Purple, and Nick Melons. Shlohmo and his crew are a movement, and you'd best pay attention sooner than later.
Shlohmo's incredible Dark Red is out now through True Panther. Check for Purple's debut LP Silence & Remorse, out later this spring.
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