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Sasha and James Lavelle @ Crobar, NYC
by translucent: 02-04-2005

Sasha was surprisingly good. I had completely written him off as a has-been prior to Friday. Last time he was at Crobar, his set was mechanical and soulless. While every track was decidedly quality, it was as if he programmed his entire set into Ableton before leaving the house and then just pressed the play button when he got to Crobar. I figured maybe he just needed some time to figure out how to use Ableton, that being his first time using it. So, last Friday, I figured I'd give him another chance for old time's sake. After his set Friday, he won me back as a fan. Maybe he finally read the instruction manual to Ableton Live because he was definitely using its full potential, using the effects and looping capabilities to tweak each track live.

The only gripe I had with the set is that Lavelle took over from about 2am-5am and spun what was probably the most jarring, terrible set I've ever heard until maybe the last hour or so of it. Sasha was spinning a surprisingly, banging, funky set that I could best describe as Digweedesqe. He built the energy up to to the roof. Then, James took over and dropped what could be best described as 15minute rock drum solo with a heavy metal flavor. Everyone just stopped in their tracks and looked at one another in confusion. Many people left, not even realizing that Sasha left the decks and was going to return later.

James was so terrible that I had the urge to storm the booth and kick him in the nuts. Lucky for him, I was upstairs and figured it might be a better idea to pop a few pills instead to try and cope until 5am. The first 45mins of Lavelle's set were so juxtaposed to what Sasha was spinning before him that it was hard to believe Lavelle has ever spun live prior to Friday. Even an amateur bedroom DJ can grasp the concept that when you follow another DJ, the first track you drop should be at least similar in style or tempo to what the guy before you was spinning, that if you want to switch styles, you have to ease the audience into it. It was akin to following Luciano Pavarotti with Iron Maiden.

While Lavelle's set might have been ok as an opening set, since the last hour of it was not too bad and finally close in style to what Sasha was spinning, him starting up the way he did made me suspect that perhaps he just burned a CD before leaving the house expecting to open, rather than play in the middle of Sasha's set. Then, he just popped that CD in after Sasha and stared at the pretty lights on the computer monitor, pretending he was actually spinning. Any DJ in their right mind would have noticed that he killed the crowd dead and quickly adjusted with the next track. But no, he kept storming ahead, almost as if he hated us and was trying to ruin our night.

Fortunately, Sasha finally got back on around 5am and saved the night by spinning even better, funkier and harder than the first part of his set. It was like seeing Sasha and Digweed back in Twilo, except it was just one if Sasha was possessed by Digweed. The floor stayed full until the lights came on. Looking around, many people were just standing there with their eyes closed, listening to every note, every beat with utter amazement. I can honestly say that not only is Sasha back, but he’s better than anything he was like since the best of his sets at Twilo. I wish I could just erase the last several years of his career since Twilo shut its doors. Sasha has finally evolved and grabbed his spot as one of the world’s top five DJs that rightfully belongs to him.

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