Wesley Peak, the Kansas City man who performs as West Peaks, didn’t attempt to conceal his excitement as he opened a concert for DJ Shadow at the Madrid Theatre on Monday.
He interrupted his set of hard-hitting original beats to tell an audience of several hundred that “DJ Shadow changed my life. The second I heard ‘Endtroducing,’ my life was changed.”
“Endtroducing,” the groundbreaking 1996 debut album by DJ Shadow, had the impact of the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album on members of the global beat-making community by dramatically expanding the possibilities of electronic music and hip-hop.
Josh Davis, the innovative producer from the Bay Area who operates under the alias DJ Shadow, performed several tracks from “Endtroducing” during a one-man show that lasted almost two hours.
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Wearing a T-shirt from the Kansas City restaurant LC’s Bar-B-Q, Davis explained that “everything I play tonight is my own music.”
The disclaimer meant that rather than concentrating on manipulating vinyl on turntables as he has at previous area concerts, he would showcase his skills as a sonic architect and gifted composer who is unafraid to blend the funky rhythms associated with James Brown with psychedelic rock and exploratory jazz.
Largely because Davis has a wealth of rewarding new material, it was a satisfying trade-off. A rendition of “Horror Show,” a thrilling collaboration with the loopy rapper Danny Brown that was released three days earlier, was accentuated by a montage of vintage horror films displayed on a triptych of screens behind Davis.
Distinct images projected on a scrim in front of the stage added a three-dimensional visual effect to mind-bending selections including “Endtroducing’s” “Building Steam With a Grain of Salt.”
Even though he’s far more than a run-of-the-mill knob-twiddler, it was difficult to ascertain what elements Davis added to the recordings aside from the percussion he played on “Nobody Speak.”
Davis characterized the profane protest song featuring the rap duo Run the Jewels as an “anthem” for an “unbelievably (messed)-up world.” “Systematic,” a collaboration with the rap icon Nas, was similarly pointed. A compilation of footage from American protest movements was overlaid with the word “resist.”
The sober messages didn’t impede the fun. Amid the uninhibited dancers near the stage were a few immobile onlookers who stared at Davis with expressions of awestruck joy.
Twenty-one years after the release of “Endtroducing,” Davis’ music remains capable of inducing transformative experiences.