Red Bull Thre3style National Finals lets the tracks do the talking

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At the Commodore on Saturday, July 26

It’s probably no coincidence that this new policy where you get dinged $75 if you puke in a taxi came through on the eve of the Celebration of Light. Oh, yes, fireworks nights: when tribal-tattoo-sporting reprobates from the suburbs descend upon downtown to oooooh and ahhhh, engage in knife fights, and expel the contents of their stomachs in the streets. Under normal circumstances, it would be utter madness to brave the Granville strip on one of these evenings, as doing so is more likely to induce PTSD than a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

However, the Commodore proved to be a safe sanctuary from all the vomiting stabbers, as a good-looking crowd came out for a competition much more engaging than the one taking place in the skies over English Bay. The Red Bull Thre3style National Finals pitted seven DJs from across Canada against one another to see who is the baddest mofo, low-down around this town. On the line was a chance to represent our country at the Thre3style World Championship in Azerbaijan (where?), and, presumably, a lifetime supply of the lightly carbonated, heavily caffeinated energy drink. (Not recommended for children, pregnant or nursing women, and persons sensitive to the effects of caffeine.)

Competitors were judged on their scratchy-scratch chops and party-rocking proclivity during 15-minute routines. Adjudicating the proceedings was an all-star panel that included DJ Jazzy Jeff, Skratch Bastid, Four Color Zack, and Vancouver’s own Hedspin. The last two are former Thre3style world champs, and they quickly demonstrated why. In a span of minutes the duo deftly mixed party favourites by Daft Punk, Prince, Michael Jackson, the Sugarhill Gang, Queen and David Bowie, Outkast, Bob Marley, and a-ha.

Basically, if you have a severe case of ADHD and correctly thought Z-Trip’s Uneasy Listening Volume 1 mix was the greatest thing ever, you were in for an enjoyable evening of “OMG, I totally forgot how much I love this song” moments.

The first two combatants, Calgary’s Heebz and Toronto’s DJ D-Smooth, were cannon fodder—D-Smooth lost when he decided to wear a Marley shirt. But Saskatoon’s Charly Hustle upped the level of play when he delivered the sing-along-iest set of the evening, dropping the Boss’s “Dancing in the Dark”, Beck’s “Loser”, and Biz Markie’s “Just a Friend” in quick succession. Despite being an obvious crowd pleaser, he didn’t even place in the top three. Perhaps the judge from West Philadelphia landed on his head one too many times after Uncle Phil tossed him out of that Bel Air mansion?

The unexpectedly well-received jam of the evening came courtesy of Halifax’s DJ Tom Fleming. Shortly after playing “Gas Pedal” by Sage the Gemini, an oh-so-familiar siren started to wail—it was “Money City Maniacs” by Sloan. Curiously, a DJ playing it received a more rousing response than when Sloan performed it last week at the Pemberton Music Festival.

An honourable mention goes to the theme from Duck Tales that fellow Haligonian PLAEBOI ended his set with, almost making you forgive him for sneaking a Red Hot Chili Peppers song in there

Last year’s Canadian champ Adam Doubleyou from Quebec City was up next. Beginning his title defense with “Miserlou” by Dick Dale, he demonstrated that the audience would rather watch Duck Tales than Pulp Fiction, and that he was the most frenetic DJ of the battle. Competitors were obligated to play thre3styles of music, but during a set where he played roughly a jillion different tracks, he may have played upwards of five5tyles. Or a least it felt like that; many Jägerbombs had been imbibed at this point.

Calgarian DJ C-SIK endeared himself to the crowd by opening with a sample from his mother, who wished him luck and told him to “rip that shit”. He then quickly won over at least one of the judges by playing Will Smith’s “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It”. Did it even matter what he did with his remaining 13 minutes? No, even though watching him scratch the shit out of “More Bounce to the Ounce” by Zapp was rather jaw-dropping.

C-SIK was declared the winner and will make his mother proud at the Thre3style World Championship, provided he passed the rigorous post-DJ battle drug test—you’re disqualified if your urine isn’t at least 50 percent Red Bull.

The performers at the Thre3style National Finals let their skills and track selection do the talking, bucking the prevailing trend at DJ-driven events of getting audiences turnt up by screaming “Make some motherfucking noise if you’re fucking high right now” then setting off confetti cannons and hurling pastries. But if that’s what you came for and you left a little disappointed, you have other things to worry about. Like that mysterious knife wound and the $75 charge on your credit card you woke up with on Sunday.

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