Day Three: The Man with the Mask, SBTRKT

Photo taken by Lizette Garza

My trip to Iceland is now complete! After so many days of covering hip-hop and seeing some awesome DJs, never, would I ever think that I would hear some Drake! But SBTRKT certainly did it and killed it on stage tonight. I had seen him as a lone ranger at North Coast Music Festival this past summer but it definitely wasn’t as lively as it was tonight.

Photo taken by Lizette Garza

I’ve been listening to the remix version of “Wild Fire” featuring Little Dragon and Drake for weeks now but who would have thought that exact remix version would be played here, tonight, in Reykjavík. Especially after talking to so many hip-hop lovers and artists no one ever mentioned Drizzy so it came to me as a lovely surprise.

The original song has been played in-between sets at NASA every time I was there, so I knew this show was a must-see and I made sure that I was front row to catch every second. But boy, oh boy was that a battle. Hands down, the most packed show I’ve seen and I walked away with bruised knees, and practically a broken rib because of the rowdy crowd. From the first song SBTRKT played, people were knocking each other over to get a peak at the man who hides behind a mask and his DJ set.

Photo taken by Lizette Garza

His performance and visual style has become a part of his trademark. He performed in his usual tribal mask with his basic setup (acoustic drum kit with extra electronic triggers) and was joined by his striking guest vocalist Sampha, who sang and played keyboard. They worked hand-in-hand to make music made off a computer come to life on stage. SBTRKT bounced back and forth between drumming and his electrical equipment while Sampha handled the singing and energy of the crowd.

Only complaint I had was to the guy in charge of lighting for the show who had one job and one job only: to keep the light down just as Sampha asked. Every other song, Mr. Light Man would raise them, probably to unveil SBTRKT’s alias but by the end all was well and the show carried on with the crazy crowd.

SBTRKT puts the average DJ to shame, taking live performances with a computer to another pinnacle. He combines dub step, R&B, and Chicago house music with deep feeling lyrics, killer rhythms, and impeccable liveliness and instrumentation on stage. If there was one DJ show to see at Iceland Airwaves this year, without a doubt SBTRKT was it.

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