DJ SHADOW'S SHADOW

EndtroducingIntroducing is a talented, Oxford-based nine-piece band with a very specific goal. Every show they perform is essentially the same. With the exception of slight variations in their encores, the set never changes. Their mission? To perform DJ Shadow's first LP, "Endtroducing", in its entirety, from start to finish.

If their recent sold-out show at London's Jazz Café is any indication, there is clearly an audience for what could seem like a totally random idea for a band.

Released 13 years ago, "Endtroducing" was created almost entirely from samples. It is melancholy, dark, funky and jazzy, and it shifts–sometimes smoothly, sometimes not–from hip hop to electro to jungle to breakbeat. Island Records re-released the album in 2005, and in 2006 Time magazine named it one of the best 100 albums of all time. The album's raw, eerie-but-funky style even spawned some short, interpretive films.

Witnessing Introducing perform the album is like watching a film with a fan who knows every single line; you can't imagine why they would want to watch it again, but they do, and they relish in their ability to recite all the dialogue. The band's commitment to the album is impressive and fun to watch. Mike Reed's ability to duplicate the album's specific, aggressive, funky drum beats is truly impressive. Andy Leung's keyboard mimicry is immaculate, and the turntable scratching is spot-on.

But the live interpretation comes dangerously close to stripping the album of its darkness, its weirdness and its coolness. Half-way through the set, I started wondering why everyone was so excited to listen to a simulacrum of the real thing (which itself was an amalgam of found sounds). I half expected the band to go the karaoke route and invite members of the audience up to sing along to the vocals (they didn't). The band's show is dedicated to nostalgia; to savouring a moment that was very cool when it happened. But as a result the show feels trapped. Doesn't playing the same set every gig get old?

Why not try playing DJ Shadow's Hyphy album live? Better yet, pack your set with songs from all of his albums. Change the band name to "DJ Shadow's Shadow" and be the hippest tribute band on the circuit.

~ GARY MOSKOWITZ