April 11, 2013

Shaguzapalooza at Port City Music Hall

The three-day electronic music extravaganza features local and national acts, including DJ Shadow.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

Seems like every kind of music has its “old school” practitioners, even if that kind of music is not really that old.

click image to enlarge

DJ Shadow, nee Josh Davis, is a big-time headliner for the Portland show. Rolling Stone recently named Shadow’s 1996 album “Endtroducing…” one of the 100 greatest debut albums of all time.

Courtesy photo

Take electronic music, which, by definition, does not sound like it can be very old. But it goes back some 20 years, and has evolved from club DJs spinning vinyl on turntables to megastars like Deadmau5 and Skrillex using complicated computer programs to produce a mind-boggling array of sounds.

Of course, “old” is a relative term. So for someone like Portland music promoter and manager John Hicks, 26, electronic music has a long and glorious past.

And Hicks wants fans of all kinds of electronic music to appreciate the genre’s history, past and present. So he’s organized an ambitious three-night festival of live electronic music called “Shaguzapalooza” at Port City Music Hall in Portland.

Almost two dozen local and national electronic acts, including “old school” legend DJ Shadow, will perform nonstop on two stages at Port City Music Hall Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

“The whole idea behind this is to try to bridge the gap between the old school – the guys who did underground raves – and the kids doing what they’re doing today,” said Hicks, who runs Carbon Vapor Productions, a Portland-based event and artist management company. “This will include the guys who spin vinyl and the kids who do it all with computer programs.”

The event’s name comes from “shaguzi,” a word Hicks made up and that he says basically means “anything is possible.” He’s also using it as the name for a clothing line he’s launching.

Hicks is a student of electronic music history, which plays into his planning of this event. Two decades ago, he notes, electronic music scenes were flourishing in Maine, with raves and local DJs. Then it those scenes died down while electronic music flourished in Europe.

But in recent years, a new electronic dance music scene known as EDM has popped up in the U.S., as evidenced by the growing number of annual electronic music festivals such as Electric Forest in Michigan and CounterPoint, which was held in Atlanta last year.

Landing someone as well-known in the genre as DJ Shadow, nee Josh Davis, gives Shaguzapalooza a pretty heavy hitter for a headliner. Rolling Stone recently named Shadow’s 1996 album “Endtroducing…” one of the 100 greatest debut albums of all time.

“Endtroducing…” “nearly did for the turntable what Hendrix did for the guitar – bringing vibrant technical brilliance, wild beauty and multifaceted musical texture to an instrument some rock Luddites still didn’t even consider to be an instrument at all,” the magazine said.

Shadow, 40, grew up in California and began experimenting with four-track recorders in high school. He worked as a college radio host while beginning to perform and experiment with sounds. Music journalists coined the term “trip hop” around 1994 at least partly to describe one of Shadow’s early singles, “In/Flux.”

“Endtroducing…” made the Guinness World Records book as the first “completely sampled album.” Besides making the Rolling Stone debut list, the album was named as one of the 100 best albums of all time in 2006 by Time magazine.

Shadow is currently on his national “All Basses Covered 2013” tour. He wasn’t available for an interview for this story, but the press releases for the tour say he’ll be showcasing some new methods and styles. For example, he’ll be using unreleased productions and live remixes, and instead of playing on drum pads, he’ll be using digital software.

“As a 28-year veteran of the electronic music scene, (Shadow) credits his staying power to knowing when and how to adapt,” the press release reads. “However, DJ Shadow stays true to his old-school hip-hop and disc jockey roots.”

Other performers scheduled for Shaguzapalooza include DJ Figure, Digital Bonesaw Society, Elevate, QuestionMRK, Dubstank Digital and The Brothers Grime on Thursday; Reid Speed, Helicopter Showdown, Blue Boy Productions, Psydways, Skylyne and Tranceform on Friday; and Of the Trees, Suspence, H8RZ, Elusid, Mike Clouds and DJ Kaotik joining DJ Shadow on Saturday.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:


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