North London lad DJ Yoda has seen his obsession with turntablism – that’s the art of cutting and scratching records together, for any DJ laypersons out there – take him to perform in nightclubs and arenas right across the world.
As CDs and then audio files usurped the beloved slates of vinyl, he’s incorporated more and more video into his sets, developing a signature audio visual ‘spectacular’ to keep his shows one step ahead of the pack.
And it’s great. The technology seems to have become much less clunky than it was even a year or two ago, allowing his performance to feel truly impromptu rather than a little painstakingly pre-prepared.
To test this theory, I’d seen him lay waste a crowd of over 2000 apres ski nutters at Austria’s Snowbombing festival a few weeks ago. Would all that complicated visual cut ‘n paste jiggery pokery look the same? Not a bit. The raw tribute to the music of Whitney Houston is still there, but in a totally different form, and merged into a wider ‘rest in peace’ section with Beastie Boy Adam ‘MCA’ Yauch and Donner Summer sadly added to the artists since departed for the big disco in the sky.
Plus there’s the addition of the Trans-Siberian March Band, who join Yoda on stage to parp out live brass versions of everything from ‘The 900 Number’ to Salt N Pepa’s ‘Push It’ and even an oompah take on the Tetris arcade game tune. They dance, wiggle and jump around, adding another spectacle to the show and the music sounds like festival dynamite too.
Compared to his usual globetrotting AV antics, a Saturday night headlining The Forum is a fairly warm and cuddly local gig, where the crowd and the artist are clearly very familiar in each other’s company. Yoda’s penchant for including cartoon themes, video game music and TV comedy snippets in his sets mean he’s really accessible, gets ‘the ladies’ dancing, yet his hip hop roots also bring out the real headz too.
This is a venue that was for a long time one of the only bastions of live hip hop in the capital, when most places feared it just meant trouble. Now that thinking seems faintly quaint too, as the age and demographic of the crowd is decidedly laid back and comfortable.
They can still kick up some dust when a classic track is dropped though. And Yoda plays on our collective local pride by projecting ‘Kentish Town!’ and ‘Make Some Noise’ up on the giant cinema sized screens. Cue the roar as North London indulges in the kind of party starting music and knowing smiles that we’ve made our own.
Words: Tom Kihl