The Scratch DJ Tour hit Sydney with the arrival of hip hop legends Q-Bert, Jazzy Jay and J-Rocc. All these guys have been major influences in the hip hop community and are revered by up & coming and established turntablists/hip hop producers alike.
Sydney fans turned up en masse to show their support at the City Live venue. According to the door person, around 1500 people were at the event - quite a few more than the 80 or so who turned up for Q-Bert's last Sydney performance in the mid-nineties just prior to him taking the world by storm! City Live boasts three levels - all the action was taking place on the lower stage where the decks were set up and the crowd looked on from the floor or the balconies enclosing the floor level. It was one of those nights that if you had a spot in the room with a good view then it was best to stay there the whole night or face losing your view. Huge video screens above and to the side of the stage projected the visuals for the night and allowed those not able to find a good spot to still see the action. The visuals faded between scenes from the newly released "Scratch" movie [http://www.scratchmovie.com/] and the live mixing and cutting on the decks by the djs. "Scratch is a feature length film about the hip-hop DJ and today's turntablist movement. From the South Bronx in the 70's to San Francisco now, the world's best scratchers, diggers, party-rockers and producers celebrate beats, breaks, battles, and the infinite possibilities of vinyl... " It's definitely a dvd/video to check out if you are into hip hop and turntablism or if you are wanting to find out more about the culture. DJ Mathematics of the Sydney/Newcastle Robotech crew commented, "The intro, where they showed all the legends and the b-boying and the graf - in two minutes, they summed up what the culture is about, without shoving it down people's throats".
During the night I had the chance to have a quick chat to DJ Kuya [http://www.djkuya.com], who's planning on returning to Melbourne in January to concentrate on DJing and production, as well as continuing his demo work with leading audio importer Jands for Stanton and Shure. "It's [the night] great so far. It's a rare treat to see someone like Jazzy Jay, I remember when he was just starting. I just saw J-Rocc walk on, so it's going to be pretty wild." Had he seen any of them play live before? "I've only seen Q-Bert live a couple of times when I've been overseas competing, and every time he's blown me away. So, that's why I'm here, more to check out J-Rocc than anything else".
Over the course of the night, almost every classic/old-school 80s hip hop/electro song was played by Jazzy Jay and J-Rocc and local support DJ Nick Toth - shouts of appreciation went up every time a favourite hit the dex. The crowd seemed a little subdued to me in the earlier part of the night, with only the first ten rows or so worth of heads nodding to the songs, but this could have been due to the number of people crowding the floor leaving little space for people to dance. Upstairs, away from the balcony rails, it was less packed, and the breakdancers claimed the floor to display their moves to the onlookers.
A roar went up when Q-Bert made it on stage, following a brief performance by "Scratchy Seal" from Scratchy Seal Breaks fame ;) His hands were a blur as he dissected the beats and created a collage of sounds - this is what most of the crowd had come to see! It was almost funny to see the look of amazement on so many guys faces, but there was more than one jaw dropping as they watched Q-Bert's precision and finesse on the decks. Even breaking the fader on his mixer couldn't stop him.. As the techs swapped out the mixers, Q-Bert bantered with the crowd then pulled off some more amazing moves on just one turntable and a record. Almost too soon his routines were over, finishing off with his trademark "Bells" set and he spent the rest of the night handing out stickers, signing autographs and chatting with the crowd who flocked around him whilst Jazzy Jay and J-Rocc played back to back.
Overall it was a great night and a rare chance to see such a prestigious hip hop line-up playing so many quality tunes - hopefully the crowd was entertained as well as educated. Here's hoping there's more nights like this to follow!
Check out http://www.scratchmovie.com/ for more info on "Scratch" the movie.