Music with Words!

I had to go all the way to LA to see Tomas Barfod.

Last Thursday was my birthday, and as luck would have it Danish DJ Tomas Barfod was booked for Rickshaw Stop’s Popscene. He’s put out one of my favorite albums of the year so far, and I thought it’d be fun to open a new decade surrounded by strobe lights and themed cocktails.

But we really didn’t have our act together, and on Thursday morning neither TicketFly nor WillCall had available tickets.

This was just a DJ set, right? On a Thursday? Max capacity could’ve also had a lot to do with the fact that local band Cathedrals were EP-release-partying, or that Rickshaw Stop is just awesome. Either way, I dropped the ball.

The next night I was in a Giants bar in Santa Monica watching Los Gigantes beat up on Los Doyers (luckily, this was the only game in the series we bothered watching in public), and right around 9-0, I thumbed through an LA Weekly and found out that my man Barfod was playing at The Echo. Let’s go!

Lyft-Uber-cabs-chaos-bullshit. LA sucks.

Right around the time we were rolling into Echo Park a thought occurred to me: what if this joint is sold out too?

Instead, there were maybe two dozen people on the dancefloor, and about the same number outside on the patio. Fewer still after the opening DJ finished his set (more on that in a minute). By the time Barfod closed it out, those of us still enjoying the lights & music numbered in single digits. I told Barfod that we had tried to see him in the City on Thursday night (JH: “He means San Francisco.”), and he apologized for the small crowd, then added, in an adorable Scandinavian accent, “But tonight I played better.” That must have accounted for the little smirk on his face all night: not smugness, but a wonderful little grin of self-satisfaction. Oh, I’m doing a very nice job tonight.

The most entertaining part of the evening, however, was provided by DP not long after arriving at The Echo. The opener, who shall remain nameless because both IP and BC assured me, after hearing this story, that he’s a nice guy and must have just been having a bad day (possibly caused, in retrospect, by DP), was busy stitching and layering and mashing and twiddling when we walked in. We were near the back and, after maybe twenty minutes, we were surprised to see DP appear onstage, downstage left. Judging by the shocked recoil, she surprised the girl doing the visuals as well. They seemed to exchange a few words, and then DP made her way back towards where we were standing.

“What were you doing up there? What’d you say?”

“I asked if they take requests.”

“It’s not that kind of DJ.”

“I just wanted to hear some Rihanna.”

“We’re not at a wedding.”

Five minutes later, there was DP, hands on the stage, leaning in to the DJ and imploring him to “Play music with words!” The DJ was not amused. He first doused DP with a water bottle and then cut the music entirely in order to get on the microphone and brutally berate her for all to hear, while calling for security. A dude in the back near us kept yelling, “Let her party!”

DP, despite her level of intoxication, convinced security to let her stick around. Maybe that pissed off the DJ even further; before Barfod had even finished his set to close out the night, that other fella was packing up his shit onstage right in front of the Danish headliner.

JH, who came a bit late and missed the little exchange, said it best. As someone in the entertainment business, and probably used to dealing with a heckler or two, he was vehement: “You do NOT do that to someone in the audience. There are a million other ways to deal with hecklers. You do NOT dump water on them. And he stopped playing?!”

RF later added, “[DP] is my new personal hero. Do you know how many times I’ve wished I could yell something like that at a DJ?”

And for the record, Barfod’s set, although great, featured very little music with words.

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