Shlohmo: “Laid Out” in Chicago

Fresh off his performance at Coachella, Los Angeles-based DJ/producer, Shlohmo (née Henry Laufer) made his way to Chicago for a sold-out show at Bottom Lounge. The all-ages show featured opening sets from Jim-E Stack and fellow WEDIDIT Collective member, D33J.

It was only recently that I was introduced to Shlohmo, and although I am not a big fan of what has been dubbed “laptop music”, I was impressed with some of his work. Naturally, in the weeks leading up to his show, I kept his music in rotation, in an attempt to hype myself up for the show. I’ve always been skeptical of attending shows in which a DJ is “performing”, as I prefer live bands, and essentially the DJ is simply, well, DJ-ing a party in a way.

Shlohmo’s fan base in attendance was no different than what one would encounter at a festival such as Spring Awakening; suburbanites and wannabe hipsters between the ages of 17 and 25, most of who are tripped out on drugs or alcohol or both. Shlohmo, hiding behind the darkness and his black hoodie, greeted us with an unenthusiastic “What the f*ck is up Chicago?” and began his hour-long set with an unrecognizable track that sounded like a mash-up of all the tracks from his Laid Out EP.

As the set progressed, I couldn’t tell one track from the next, and neither could his audience, as they all sounded alike and each of his original songs bled into the next. The crowd seemed to gain some momentum when Shlohmo segued into “The Club”, but the entire venue came to life when “Colombia” (a remix to Young Scooter’s “Cocaine”) blazed through the sound system. Shlohmo’s bass-heavy, mid-tempo style, metaphorically takes listeners as high as possible, with the climax being roughly a minute-long bass drop, followed by a down-tempo to plateau them out.

Shlohmo appeared to be experimenting with the audience’s musical emotions as he played “No More”, promising attendees that, “The Jeremih is coming.” – referring to the now infamous chopped and screwed remix of Jeremih’s “F*ck You All The Time”. Unfortunately, it never came.

Considering that DJs set the atmosphere, it would have been more entertaining if Shlohmo had engaged with the crowd more. Even when the crowd appeared to be enjoying a particular track, Shlohmo didn’t seem to be – he just occasionally pop-locked and played an imaginary keyboard under a remarkable light show that, in a sense, described the mood of each track.

Shlohmo closed the show with an interesting, yet refreshing, remix of Soul for Real’s “Candy Rain”, which summed up the tone of the 60-minute set: chopped & screwed, R&B, hip hop, trip hop, and EDM all rolled into one.

Although, I am more impressed with his in-studio work than I was with his “live performance”, I don’t doubt that this talented young lad will continue to mature in his work and branch out as he has the potential to be a lot more versatile.