Nightmares on Wax had the crowd feelin’ good at the Regency Ballroom on Saturday night. George Evelyn, who is known as both Nightmares on Wax and DJ EASE, is a legendary producer who has worked with the likes of De La Soul.
The tour is in conjunction with the recent release of a retrospective collection of highlights from his discography called “N.O.W. Is the Time,” which coincides with the 25th anniversary of DJ EASE’s music career. The set list traced the trajectory of his career, drawing on his early recordings mixed with newer material. He led the audience on a journey from his foundation of house music to a progressive expansion with genres that include funk, soul and reggae.
The show showcased an intricate blend between sound-system-produced electronica and a live band. DJ EASE periodically shuffled back and forth between his laptop and frontman duties. The drumming of Grant Kershaw accompanied computerized beats, while Ricky Ranking and Mozez delivered soul in the place of vocal samples.
This blend follows Nightmares on Wax’s change of direction toward a more organic sound with the 2013 release of “Feelin’ Good.” But the relative sparsity of the live band sounded less rich yet more tangible than the orchestral flourishes of the instrumentation on the album.
“Eye (Can’t See)” brought back an old-school club flavor with its heavily manipulated glitching set over a Latin groove. “Flip Ya Lid” featured literal bells and whistles, and Ranking’s warbles could rival those on Bernard Herrmann’s “Twisted Nerve.”
The three vocalists hit their own strides across the stage as they bounced lyrics back and forth. The tripling of these vocal duties layered the sound into a euphonic complexity. Their collective energy created a soundscape of good vibes with warm tones and positive lyrics.
This collectivity was reflected in the lyrics of “Be, I Do” — “Be the most magnificent, just be/ Living life that’s benevolent.” DJ EASE didn’t merely encourage the audience to be magnificent — he also made an effort to save lives by spreading awareness about a foundation called Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, which raises money toward building wells in Africa. He has a reason to be “Feelin’ Good” — he’s do-gooding not only in music, but also in life.
Contact Caitlin Kelley at [email protected].