Nosaj Thing, jj: Swing and A Miss

Nosaj Thing, jj
Lincoln Hall – Chicago, IL

Lincoln Hall broke the super sold out show into two smaller, but equal shows: one early show featuring Nosaj Thing and one late show featuring jj. Both openers could have used something more in their sets, yet seemed slightly “doomed” from the get-go.

Opening the early set, Nosaj Thing couldn’t quite create the “night music” at 6:00 PM. I sat at the center of the balcony (favorite spot) next to a young couple from Milwaukee, and in talking with them tried to explain my excitement to see Nosaj Thing again. My credibility was definitely slashed after Chung played the miniature version of his typical set. It’s not that his skills suddenly got worse. In fact, he added more smaller nuances than I remember to his shorter set. He played some of his better tracks just as well, yet somehow his hypnotic beats did not hit home here in Chicago. It was more like it was still light outside and the all-ages-too-hip-for-hipsters weren’t really feeling the late night glitch-hop. But, you can’t really like an artists set if you talk the entire time, you know?

I got to speak with a few people who knew Chung’s synced art show, or at least saw the Vimeo video. It’s wicked, right? I think a fully mobile live synced art show is the next step for Nosaj Thing. Yes, his sets are beyond sick with the right crowd, but to just sit on such a great concept and design and collaborators should be labeled as a crime. I have a funny feeling in my gut the next time we see Nosaj Thing, he’ll come back with some semblance of a better show for us.

Opening the late set, was jj, a Swedish-duo was… interesting, to say the very least. Of course I am going to elaborate, because their live set was so amateur and awkward, it was actually worth talking over. Singer Elin Kastlander started an acoustic set which the crowd was more than content with. Kastlander’s voice sounded crystal clear. The late crowd was in a chill mindset and accepted that the opening act would be fairly low key. Until Joakim Benon came out to play (automated) electronics on the laptop… He was in and out, whispering to Kastlander mid-song which was fairly awkward for the audience. To distract from the strange stage antics, they projected a collage of trippy visuals, futbol highlight reels and home videos which I gladly preferred watching. “Let Go” was the last song shown (I had stopped watching jj by this point). The music video got a good final response before they quickly left the stage (presumably to smoke more weed).

I forced myself to listen to one of their albums after the show which wasn’t as tortuous as I thought it would be. The (non-live) music is more of a world beat meets electronica, which is a pretty strange combination if you think about it. I’m sure jj would be a lot cooler to hang out with than to watch perform. You would presumably be smoking a lot of weed and trying to understand Swedish. Clearly they did not have their set (read: shit) together. In the past, they have received less than stellar live reviews, yet people praise their music. It’s worth listening to, but outside of a hemp festival, don’t expect a great live show from these two.

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