Live Review: Shigeto at the MOCAD

Before the beginning of his set at the beautiful Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Zachary Saginaw, otherwise known as Shigeto, announced “I’m nervous. This is the only show I’ve been nervous for all year.”

Coming from the Detroit area, in attendance with us were Saginaw’s close friends, all of whom he was visibly excited to perform for. When the first song came flooding through the warehouse, all doubts anyone had regarding his nerves disappeared. He immediately dove into his set with a jazzy tune, complete with characteristic improvisation. The young crowd was already mesmerized. And he hadn’t even begun to play the drums.

Shigeto’s delivery was truly remarkable. His transitions from dubstep and hip hop to jazz and back were baffling, unpredictable, and executed with extreme precision. His synth was on point, with jerky drops and funky rhythm throughout. Then he sat down at his drum set. Throughout the show, there was a look on his face that seemed to say, "Oh, you think this is cool? Well how about this?" After each smug look, he completely mixed up the beat and added another entire level of complexity to his set. This happened the most when Saginaw was at the drums. The intensity with which he played the drums left the audience absolutely captivated. Sweating profusely, almost cringing at the effort that he was putting into each and every beat on the drum, Saginaw’s raw passion was beyond that of many a live performance. All of this was done with a meticulous, but seemingly instinctive, focus, as he switched from DJ to drummer without skipping a beat. 

By the time Shigeto's hits, such as “Ann Arbor” and his remix of Tycho’s “Adrift,” reached the eager crowd, he had set the bar for the crowd’s expectations pretty high. Yet, with each song seemed to come an added dimension, the likes of which exceeded any possible expectations. As he prepared to leave, Saginaw thanked the crowd and seemed to be done with his set. But suddenly, he seemed to decide that he hadn’t yet proven enough of his repertoire and delved into a completely different and upbeat hip-hop jam that had the whole crowd fascinated. With a huge smile on his face, fans cheered him on as one of his friends turned around and said, “he’s just so fucking amazing.”

Shigeto will be performing again with Bonobo in Pontiac in April and his new album should be released sometime soon.