World-renowned artist Shepard Fairey was already into his DJ set when we got up to the third floor of Block 37 Shops. I thought it would be an awkward place to have an art exhibit/concert, but the people in charge did a great job, and the place felt like a real art gallery instead of a retail center. We walked around taking in some of the art as Fairey weaved his way through decades of music, mixing up new jack swing with early 80’s synth, 70’s punk and 60’s pop (The Monkees “Mary Mary” being the highlight for me). The crowd was dancing and grooving along, while I thought maybe the experience went on a tad too long. 75 minutes of a DJ when it was all said and done, but he left Chicago with a smile, playing Gary Glitter’s “Rock n Roll part 2.” I didn’t know what to expect when I heard that the Obey Giant and HOPE creator would be DJ-ing, but it turns out he’s pretty good and super into it himself, singing along with most of the songs with one of his Beats headphones over his right ear and the other one on top of his head.
There was a short break while Kid Koala took over the area Fairey was using. Koala set up his wax, made sure it worked, and a few minutes later we were off. The core trio of Deltron 3030 was joined by Takahiro Tazawa on guitar, Alex on drums, and the most animated bass player I’ve seen in a while (but whose name I do not know). I’m so glad hip-hop has caught on to what The Roots knew 20 years ago-music sounds better played live rather than having a guy hit a button on a laptop. Computers can be worked into a set with ease, but for me, I like to have a more organic element.