A Digweed gig always has a few surprises. You know you are going to get a huge crowd, and you know you are going to get almost faultless mixing and programming. So the surprise lies solely in the music. Recently, as electronic dance music has become more and more ambiguous, so have the record boxes of most DJs. It’s difficult to find a straight-up ‘techno’ DJ or a ‘progressive house’ DJ anymore, and in my opinion, that’s a great thing. Digweed does the genre-swinger thing well, and has done so for a while now.
While still paying homage to the progressive sound that made him who he is today, you can now hear techno, minimal, and electrohouse elements throughout his sets, which is why I personally chose to head to Saza’e, Osaka’s biggest club, to catch his Transitions Vol. 3 Release Party.
It was a Tuesday night. Not really a night conducive to clubbing, but with Diggers in town, I had a feeling it wouldn’t affect the numbers too much. My assumption proved correct as I strolled into the club at 11 p.m. to find the main floor filling nicely already. People hadn’t braved the multiple dance podiums yet, but it wouldn’t take too long. I began the night on the third floor where local promoter and all-round good guy, DJ K, was dropping an interesting mix of deep tech for the folks sitting around the indoor baby pool on comfy white leather couches. John Tejada’s 'Sweat On The Walls' was a well-chosen classic that got me in the mood for downstairs.
The main room was showing some life when I ventured back down. The dancefloor was full, and the warm up Ko Matsushima was playing some great hypnotic techno, but it wasn’t long before midnight struck, and to rousing reception, Digweed stepped behind the decks. I’d just like to say that word again, decks. I was happy to see there wasn’t a laptop in sight throughout his set (not that I’m against Serrato or Torq etc), just a CD folder the size of a suitcase, and an FX unit.
He started off deep and spacious, with twinkling melodies and bleeps, but that fell away after half an hour after he brought in some heavier tunes including the Ink & Needle Remix of James Mowbray & Leiam Sullivan’s 'Tropical Heights'. This tune really summed up the first ninety minutes: The beats had a techno and minimal feel, but still incorporated floaty progressive synths and sparkles that would be expected from the Bedrock head honcho.
The second half of his set was massive. His FX unit worked overtime to loop and build, created some giant breakdown action for the now jam-packed crowd. There were some absolute storming tracks, which I couldn’t name (but I’m sure they will be monsters when they get an official release) but I was a little disappointed that two of my favourite tracks at the moment, which happened to be included on the Transitions Vol. 3 CD, Dusty Kid’s 'Kore', and Chaim’s 'Genesis', didn’t get a spin, but that didn’t really affect my mood. I was enjoying the night thoroughly.
Late in the evening, Digweed dropped (in my opinion) tune of the night, Martin Buttrich’s 'Hunter', which absolutely brought the house down. His set finished with some surprisingly heavy stuff, including some Depeche Mode remix that I couldn’t place, but the crowd still wasn’t satisfied. The club lights came on but the crowd didn’t move. Chants of 'Encore!' began, and despite the comfort of darkness being lost, Digweed obliged with the classic 'Age of Love' and some other big-time stuff from years past. Fast forward four more encores, it was only when the Saza’e staff got on the mic and pleaded with the crowd to go home that they finally gave in. Digweed said his goodbyes including an 'arigato' and it was done.
It was hardly a surprise that this was a good night. From the salarymen in suits coming clubbing straight from work, to the Japanese podium girls dressed as Arabian princesses, everyone seemed appreciative of witnessing one of the best. I could critique on some of his track selections, but as The Dude from The Big Lebowski says “That’s just like.. your opinion, man.” And it is. This was a great mid-weeker. Good Crowd. Good Tunes. Fun Night.