The Magic 8 Ball Tour featuring A-Trak, Kid Sister and The Gaslamp Killer didn't convert me into a dance-music fiend, but one of the acts on stage definitely made me a fan for life.---
That would be The Gaslamp Killer, the DJ originally from San Diego (his name is taken from the city's famed Gaslamp District) and now ensconced in L.A. His frenetic performance style and blend of hard-hitting psychedelia and pop samples hit the spot Tuesday night at a packed Vertigo Room inside The Complex.
The problem, though, is that The Gaslamp Killer was on so early in the show, taking the stage right after local DJ Flash & Flare, meaning after the afro'd DJ was done, the night had increasingly diminishing returns.
Kid Sister's rhymes just didn't connect with me, despite the Chicago MCs energetic stage presence. A-Trak, though, provided a killer set, showing off both the DJ skills that made him a DMC turntable champ when he was a mere teen, and the more dance-oriented production skills that have made him a global superstar, both as half of Duck Sauce and as a touring DJ for Kanye West and Jay-Z. His giant A-shaped stage set-up provided some creative lighting for the black-clad A-Trak during his set, and the crowd was obviously there for his show, given the rise in energy on the dance floor when A-Trak took the stage near midnight.
Back to The Gaslamp Killer, though. He seemed frustrated with playing early in the night—"I'm here to warm you up. That is my job on this tour," he intoned at one point. And I'd be frustrated, too, if I was spinning a ridiculously creative set and had to look at a somewhat empty dancefloor in front of the stage, and people lounging on couches just a few feet away.
As he proceeded, though, the floor filled and the DJ seemed to get in a better mood, creating his own party on stage by dancing to his mix, singing along out loud with his sampled lyrics and shaking that distinct mop around. At one point, he left his turntables and roamed the stage with an iPad, delivering beats with emphatic taps on the touchscreen while he rocked out. It made for a good visual, and it stirred the until-then lethargic audience into action.
My favorite moment was probably when The Gaslamp Killer segued a roughed-up version of the old oft-covered classic "Mr. Sandman" into Jimi Hendrix's version of "All Along The Watchtower" into a recorded Charlie Sheen rant. That blend of old-school classic, rock & roll and pop culture is The Gaslamp Killer's forte, and it was a blast to hear.