I just got back from the 5/3/08 RJD2 show at The Paradise on Comm. Ave. I had been looking forward to the show for some time, pulling the on-sale date from an RSS item from tourfilter and within a week or two tickets sold out. It was with great anticipation that I approached the show. I saw RJD2 perform from a distance at Bonnaroo a few years ago, and had seen the crowd get worked. The Third Hand, Randle John Krohn’s latest from March this past year illustrated the major transition from a primarily hip-hop based library of music built on very deliberate sampling.
In his 2006 interview with Pitchfork Media, Krohn gave some important details about the album that would become The Third Hand. Specifically, the album was a huge transitionary work for him, moving from sampling to performance both in instrumentation and his own singing. In addition he moved labels from Definitive Jux to XL Recordings in an outwardly symbolic movement from hip-hop to a destination between electronic and pop music.
The show tonight was in good form, thanks in part to the early sell-out the crowd was tuned in and attentive. Krohn came out on stage and performed some of his classic tracks from his Definitive Jux period live using turntables and a synthesizer. After a few songs the drummer from his support band came out and began adding fills for a track spinning on vinyl. Not long after the band was off and running as a live PA, a literal demonstration of Krohn’s move towards a more traditional performance. Another peculiar aspect of the show was repeated returns to music from Nintendo Classic video games, including musical interludes from the Mario series and Zelda.
After the show, I had a chance to speak with Krohn. I asked about his recent work, as The Third Hand hit the street a full year ago and I wasn’t aware of any forthcoming work from him. He said that he has been recording regularly, but that it was largely unfocused work. I asked about how it felt to be on XL Recordings and his response was fairly general, suggesting that to some extent record labels offer the same services. In response I asked if he felt he had creative freedom on XL and he replied in kind that he felt he did.
I’m impressed by Krohn because of his ability to sell out the Paradise so early on publicity that is really a year old at this point and his cool responses to my questions about his work and the current tour. I highly recommend anyone interested in the electronic/pop/rock genres to make time to listen to The Third Hand and attempt to catch the show.