Live Review, 3/1/12: The Red Bull Thre3style DJ Contest Comes to Ruby Skye
Carlo Cruz/Red Bull Content Pool Winner Four Color Zack
The Red Bull Thre3style Contest, featuring Miles Medina, John Beaver, DJ Zita, DJ Playtime, DJ Theory, King Most, DJ Just, Four Color Zack
Thursday, March 1, 2012
Better than: Being in an orgy of DJs.
One of the world's preeminent DJ competitions, Red Bull's Thre3style DJ Battle made its return to San Francisco last night at Ruby Skye, showcasing some of the West Coast's best DJs. The contest, which challenged eight DJs with vastly different styles to perform their best 15-minute genre-crossing set, promised the winner a $1,000 cash prize and a coveted spot in the national finals, to be held this summer in Orlando.
Hosted at the cavernous Ruby Skye, the crowd was markedly different from last year's event: The 18-and-over group, dressed in collared shirts and tight mini-skirts, leaped and tripped over one another on the ground floor, while upstairs, every other face seemed to be a notable San Francisco selecter, with DJs D. Lo, E-Rock, Mr. E, Claksaarb, White Mike, Audio 1, and Stef milling about in anticipation of the show. Notably, the event was sold out by 9:21 p.m.
A little after 10 o'clock, resident Golden State Warriors host Franco Finn began the night with a tribute to the late DJ Solomon (who competed last year), and the introduction of the judges. This year's competition had a diverse group of judges, with Bay Area turntablist Shortkut, last year's national Thr3style champion Big Once, Live 105 Music Director and DJ Aaron Axelsen, and Australian pop/dance duo Bag Raiders. We asked some judges prior to the show what they was looking for. Axelsen answered "No fucking clue," while Shortkut simply wanted to see "creativity."
The first competitor, Miles Medina, appeared eager to get onstage, hopping anxiously from foot to foot during the announcement of the judges. Medina, who brought an entourage adorned in "Team Miles Medina" T-shirts, set the standard for the night, with his obvious turntable skills and his uncanny ability to transition between hip-hop, dubstep, and electro.
Following Medina was San Jose's John Beaver, who showed his familiarity with the Ruby Skye sound system, jumping right into an electro-heavy set, which was good for its on-stage dance choreography, but not its variety.
DJ Zita, the night's only female competitor, took the stage next, and proudly asserted her femininity with her oversized thunderbolt earrings and a selection of tracks catered to the ladies. Zita showed off her classic sensibility with selections by Robin S. and Chaka Kahn, and had the older heads in the crowd bopping.
Next up was DJ Playtime, who earned a spot in the competition by winning the Portland battle, and whose set veered dramatically from classic Bay Area hip-hop to Elvis to LMFAO.
The fifth competitor was DJ Theory, who began his set with a demonstration of his impressive scratch skills and then moved into the sound he's become known for: moombahton. Dropping tracks from Nadastrom, Two Door Cinema Club, and his good friend J-Boogie, Theory's set was one of the most unique of the evening.
Bay Area native King Most, known for the parties Wonder-Full and 1990-Now, took the stage next, adorned in a pork pie hat and playful grin. He took the crowd on a journey from current hip-hop through '80s classics, from Radiohead to Shawty Lo, at times inspiring chanting among the audience.
By this point in the night, the 18-and-over crowd was in full party frenzy, with girls peeing on the bathroom floor and borderline sex acts taking place in full view up against the speakers. The 21-and-over section upstairs felt like a safe haven, despite it being the sole area where alcohol was served.
The penultimate act of the night was DJ Just of Designer Deejays, who put together what we considered to be one of the top sets of the night, cleanly mixing The xx with electro and Guns N' Roses, and demonstrating his skills on the turntables with beat-juggling and scratch techniques. Just's set had the audience singing along at points, and finally finished with handfuls of glow sticks being tossed into the receptive crowd.