HiFi Club, Calgary

It seems like from the word go, the Los Angeles based producer was keen to whip up a messy party on what would be an idle Wednesday night for most. The Avant-garde hip-hop mastermind swaggered on stage and positioned himself comfortably behind the decks accompanied by a big bottle of Hennessy Cognac just to spice things up. With a backdrop of bleached visuals swirling behind him, the mood was set to broadcast tracks off of his upcoming ‘Laid Out’ EP, which is available now on Friends of Friends x WEDIDIT.

However, the set that Shlohmo treated us to was perhaps a little less egotistical than expected. He steered away from the more zonal yet complex beats that he is renowned for and instead delivered an amped up mix that had a great portion of the crowd bumping and grinding with enthusiasm. Notable tracks that caught my ears included his smooth yet percussive remix of Lianne La Havas’ ‘Forget’, a track that is littered with lo-fi pops and clattering hi-hat hits. Additionally, he dropped his screwed take on a familiar pop classic: ‘Genie in a Bottle’. Whilst this is a track that is more commonly associated with tween girls singing in to hairbrushes, Shlohmo injects the track with style by transposing the vocals down a couple of octaves and drenching it in textured synths and dominant beats (Mariah Carey’s ‘Touch My Body’ has received a similar treatment from both Cyril Hahn and Sweater Beats).

Amongst these two tracks, the night was mostly defined by heavy rhythms that were reminiscent of tracks from the Memphis rap scene comparable to the music of Triple 6 Mafia, Tommy Wright III and Koopsta Knicca. It also seemed for the most part of the night that Shlohmo made DJing look like a breeze. His hands were rarely attached to the decks but instead put to use by either mimicking the percussion over the music or simply grabbing his trusty bottle of Hennessy to sip the night away in true crunk fashion. Whilst this heavy hip-hop vibe left the whole place buzzing I personally felt a slow jam void left unfulfilled. I was left craving some more leisurely paced R&B rhythms and in particular, I was waiting in anticipation for him to unleash ‘Don’t Say No’ featuring fellow pioneer of the nu-R&B movement ‘How to Dress Well’. In fact, the only track that was played off of his auspicious ‘Laid Out’ EP was ‘Out of Hand’, a track packed with intricate instrumentation and swirling synths which acted as a finale to the night. Nevertheless, this was a promising opening night in what was the first show of many North American tour dates for Shlohmo. Additionally, the fact that he offered his precious bottle of Hennessy out to the crowd in an act of generosity goes to show that he too was pretty happy with how things went down.

Words: George Hemmati

AuthorDuncan Harrison