If there’s one thing that hip-hop/electronica extraordinaire RJD2 will teach you, it’s that nothing gets in the way of a good beat. And no one knows this better than the throngs of students who filed into Beckham Hall last Thursday night to see the internationally-acclaimed DJ spin.
Sponsored by Psi U, the event was already in its nascent stages this summer. “We wanted to pool the house’s resources to come up with an event that would really benefit social life on campus,” said event organizer and Psi U President Chris Goy ’09. “Although there were plenty of other acts we could have gone with, we were really happy that RJ said he was willing to come.”
Spacious Beckham Hall debuted as a concert venue with the Oct. 25 performance. As debuts go, it was not without its awkward stumbles. As a rule of thumb, indoor concerts need to be played with dimmed lights. However, three songs into RJD2’s set, students stopped nodding to the rhythms and started wondering why the lights were still on. It doesn’t matter if the Beatles are playing—you can’t enjoy a concert with full fluorescent lights and PSafe officers lingering in the corners. When the sound controller was asked about the situation, he shrugged, saying the lights simply “don’t turn off.” A film of semi-apocalyptic imagery synced with the music was projected behind the DJ, and, in the clumsy fashion of the night, filled only a warped, television-sized square in a lower corner of the enormous projection screen.
“RJD2 was phenomenal, but the venue made it feel totally middle school,” said Xue Sun ’08. “I half expected to see people slow-dancing like zombies.”
Luckily, RJD2 was a far cry from awkward. Born Ramble John Krohn, RJD2 played an hour-long set during which he spun his signature head-bobbing melodies. With its mellow blend of electronica, hip-hop and soul vocal samples, RJD2’s music is easy to box in as ambient—something you’d put on to supplement good conversation and beer rather than fill a dance hall. However, the DJ’s live set delivered classic tracks like “Ghostwriter” and “The Horror” with a brand of freshness and energy that can’t be captured on any recording.
As if commanded by the floor-shaking beats of the bass amps, students danced, pogoed and swayed as if this were the only kind of music they knew how to move to. Though Beckham Hall had more than enough space to accommodate concertgoers, the front half of the crowd endured sardine-can conditions as students pressed together in an attempt to catch a glimpse of RJD2’s dynamic performance.
Luckily, the DJ had the foresight to save real crowd-movers, like the dirty brass of “Good Times Roll Pt. 2,” for the end. When, through either the mercy or will of a higher power, the lights went down halfway into his set, attendees relaxed their raised eyebrows and let themselves get swept up into the performance it was meant to be. Even RJD2, who glistened with sweat as he rushed about the stage to change records, seemed to enjoy himself and even chatted with the audience.
“RJD2 said Wesleyan was one of the better audiences he had performed for in awhile,” Goy said. “In addition to him being about the most chill individual I have ever met, he really liked playing for us.”
With the successes of Rage Mountain and now RJD2 under Psi U’s belt, the frat is quickly gaining popularity this year for hosting big-name concerts. It’s no wonder Goy seems optimistic about future dance extravaganzas. “I think we’d do it again. Who knows? Maybe someone even bigger. Why not, right?”