A confession: Rather unfairly, I had forgotten about Cut Chemist. Not on purpose and certainly not with malice, the turntable wizard born with the ordinary moniker Lucas MacFadden had fallen off my radar, despite his live mix CD released this summer, “Sound of the Police,” a titular nod to the KRS-One song. At Saturday night’s Masquerade, a multi-tentacled celebration from KCRW in the resplendent Park Plaza, I was most pleased to make his acquaintance again when I wandered into his set about 20 minutes after he'd kicked it off.
Holding court in the Bronze Room, Cut Chemist, playing with his VJ Tom Fitzgerald in matching orange prison jumpers, kept a crowd of sexy nurses, ghoulish Kim Jong-Ils and raver cat people (you had to see it) steadily dancing with his rousing blend of beat-laden African and South American samples. The show worked on another level as well -- a few screens flashed with Fitzgerald’s colorful visuals, many of them of African children decked out in tribal wear.
The oft-lobbed criticism of the average DJ performance, or really anyone who makes most of their music on a laptop, is that it’s boring to watch. And in many cases, it’s a well-deserved criticism. Too many electronic artists disappear into the music, their faces masks of impenetrable concentration, seemingly unaware of the crowd. Perhaps fearful that they won’t be able to control all the elements in a live setting, they keep the performance as foolproof as possible. Press a button and -- presto! The song comes alive with little or no live manipulation from the artist.