James Zabiela at Atlantis (Vancouver, Canada) - May 6, 2004
Tuesday, June 22, 2004Only when there were 30 minutes to go did I realize why I was not having the best time EVER: my stupid strapless bra, the one I bought when I was two cup sizes smaller and 15 pounds lighter, had been subversively torturing me the
entire time. I guess I figured it out when all of a sudden I had the impulse to just take it off. The tightness and restriction had become much too much and I will blame the fact that I didn't wholeheartedly tune my ear to Zabiela's sounds on it.
In less than twenty beats I had taken off my bra and stuffed it into my boyfriend's back pocket and started partying like it was the last half hour of my life.
Those thirty minutes were fabulous. Perhaps it was due to my braless state but I think it's got more to do with the desert breaks he was playing (he played some during the beginning of his set, too). O my god, do I ever love
desert breaks. I love them because the bass clotheslines you and it's pure energy and happiness. There is no electronic music more amicable than desert breaks. The bouncy feeling it swelled inside of me was totally accentuated by the fact that I never would have guessed my fine luck of hearing it at a club in the year 2004.
His set was studded with some older tracks. Not only did he play desert breaks but a jungle track I recall having on a mix tape in grade eleven and another song from around that same era.
Recognizing those tracks didn't make me feel old but something else certainly did. James Zabiela is a fairly young DJ and I would consider him part of the new school. I can't wrap my head around the stuff he cranks out. That makes me sad because I know that it's all truly great. I can
hear all the complicated sounds he is making and the prodigious mixing but I cannot feel it. Zabiela is just too innovative for me. He is not a disc jockey that fuels dancing and romancing like those of yesteryear but a turntablist that cements the fact that DJ's are artists and they are capable of exploding synapses with their creativity.
I don't get his style but hope to in the future. I'm not sure how likely that is. Before seeing him I downloaded a four CD promo. I loved it and hoped that he would play a similar set. During the interview I asked him about it. He said that he hated it. I can imagine why as it is much more linear and conservative, things that I adore but things that this new generation is not satisfied with.
It was apparent that many clubbers found him stimulating enough that they didn't even want to dance. Throughout the night there was always a crowd - mostly guys - observing his mastery, lots taking photos.
Zabiela's appearance in Vancouver was the first installment of Exposure Series, a, hopefully never ending, series of progressive Djs playing at Atlantis. The place was full and stayed full 'til the very end, always a great sign.
I arrived at the tail end of Kevin Shiu's set but it was pretty rocking, especially for an opening set.