So yes, the plucky women of Nakturnal, an all-female entertainment agency hell-bent on merging cutting edge night life with the corporate community, managed to wrangle one of the most important, prolific, party-charging DJ’s in the entire world to rock arguably the city’s cheesiest night club, Diesel, this past Thursday night with unparalleled results.
The man known as Diplo (a.k.a. Thomas Welsey Pentz, Philadelphia-based DJ, producer, and songwriter) put on a master class of mashup beat making for a city spoiled with talented, upstart laptop artists (Girl Talk and Discuss among others). He casually manipulated a thunderously vibrant sonic narrative for a motley crew of sweat drenched indie kids, frat boy gawkers, greased up clubbers, and rap video cliches that, by the end of the night, were throwing up their “hand” guns in complete unison for the violent, felony laden chorus of this distinguished DJ’s most famous opus, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes.”
2-parts ass shaking, hedonistic excess, 1-part jazz infused improvisation, Diplo’s mix was characterized by a series of build ups and cathartic release, occasionally slowing the party down long enough to showcase one spectacular, sparse synth sample at a time. By breaking down the components of his mixing wizardry, Diplo challenged his audience to witness the evolution of a fully realized composition from the very first point of its genesis.
While some could call this the indulgent act of a jaded DJ, I found it fascinating to connect the electrical dots flying out of the monitors. Diplo, with his oft-repeated “Pittsburgh, COME ON”‘s, was personally showing the crowd what it means to be one of the word’s most intensely cerebral and eclectic DJ’s. He coolly spotlighted his choice, taste-making samples, the unforgiving mutilation of classic rock songs (Smells Like Teen Spirit and Thunderstruck to name a few), and a couple complete overhauls of artists he had more than a hand in scuplting (Santogold and M.I.A.), all of this while looking back to us with a small smirk of clever recognition.
As scholarly as that all just sounded, the show was also an unmitigated shit storm of strobe lights, blow up dolls, and Maker’s Mark, concluding with my realization that by the end of the night, DJ Nugget and Laser Crunk (two of the shows opening acts) were throwing down right in front of me, spastically dancing right along with the rest of us. Diplo didn’t step on to the stage until well after midnight, and walked off somewhere around 2:15 AM, resulting in quite a Thursday night for the lot of us. After the set ended, I seriously wondered if Diesel can ever possess that much cred again.