Show Review: SBTRKT At The Danforth Music Hall

By Claire Cowan, Feature Photo via Pitchfork

A conflict that received substantial coverage across Toronto music magazines and blogs was the technical issues consuming nearly the entirety of the SBTRKT Halloween set at Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall. The London native Aaron Jerome (more commonly referred to as SBTRKT) proceeded through a few opening tracks before his system seemed to give out entirely. After taking a brief pause to allow for sound technicians to flood the centre stage, SBTRKT resumed with yet another attempt at the track. After about four separate goes at the same track, he finally decided to shut it down and move to the next song on the set list. I kept in mind that, no matter how fed up I may get with a bad performance, I did pay to see the show, and I paid for a reason — I love the guy and all of his work. However, as the gaps in between each song seemingly grew larger, I had to cringe at a few booing fans as the crowd slowly began to thin out.

After approximately thirty minutes of running in circles between all of his equipment, the show started up again, but, at this time, the visuals on the projector screens were gone, as well as the captivating laser display he had synced to each track. This loss truly took away from the show as a whole, and while I was assuming the artist would make up for lost time with a few other tracks, he did not. Unlike the majority of the crowd, I was aware that he had to jet off to a DJ set he was scheduled to play at The Hoxton right after his appearance at the Danforth Music Hall. If I was not already planning to watch his DJ set/after-party show, I would’ve felt pretty ripped off for missing out on a SBTRKT-level performance.

However, it is important to note that there were no technical difficulties at his after show, and, based on word of mouth, he came out strong during his second night at Danforth. Despite this, the first night was enough to throw anyone off. Will I reconsider seeing a live SBTRKT show again? Most definitely. But will I still go despite my prior disappointments? Most definitely.

SBTRKT’s apology, which explained that “this has never happened to us before,” made me feel for him. I still love his music — I just may love it less in live shows. Similar to Bonobo’s live shows, he likes to recreate a lot of his computer-generated sounds through the use of live instruments, which I am not entirely sure is a good idea. Nonetheless, he is a seemingly great guy with a great mask and great music, but that show put a huge dent in my Halloween night. Whether it was the overwhelming technical difficulties that essentially ran the show, or the vibe that was ultimately killed, I’d say it is fair to agree on the statement that the SBTRKT performance on Halloween night was a large disappointment.


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