Veteran Queensland turntablist DJ Butcher has beaten a crack field of DJs to take out the Red Bull Thre3style 2012 Australian final, and there was no one in the house more surprised than the man himself to see his name on the $2000 winner’s cheque.
Butcher – real name Alex Steffan – leapt into the arms of the night’s host Jonny Drama when his name was read out midway through headliner Z-Trip’s master class in multi-genre DJing. Despite the crowd in Sydney’s Metro Theatre greeting Butcher with a good-natured chorus of boos when he took the stage for his set, proving that the New South Wales versus Queensland rivalry goes far beyond the field of State Of Origin rugby league, the decision was a popular one – and his set to close down the night kept the dancefloor shaking until the lights came up.
The unenviable task of judging the title went to Ming Gan (Fuzzy Entertainment), Dan Zilber (FBi Radio) and Tim Hardaker (The Sound Alliance), with all six contestants making solid cases for taking home the giant novelty cheque, Shure headphones and trip to Chicago for the world finals in September.
Adelaide’s Ryley opened proceedings with a hyperactive set played across no less than four CDJ-2000s, highlighted by a party trick which saw him play the signature riffs of Deep Purple’s 'Smoke On The Water' and Major Lazer’s 'Pon De Floor' by hitting the Cue button while riding the pitch over the top of thundering breaks. The only contestant not backing up from the 2011 finals was Zeke from Western Australia, and he very nearly stole the show with a proper block party set complete with pre-recorded vocal taunts and dexterous juggling – a mid-set drop out perhaps the only thing stopping him from taking the title.
Sydney-sider Typhonic battled gamely on in front of his home crowd despite quite obviously struggling with foldback issues, defending champion DJ Perplex’s set was the most perfectly paced, bordering on restrained at times, while fellow Victorian DJ Flagrant made a late case for the crown with some superb scratching – particularly over a build-up into drum’n’bass tempo on the home stretch.
“I thought Zeke had won it for sure,” said Alex in the Metro’s foyer after the decision had been announced. But it was ultimately his own combination of sublime track selection – from hip hop to dubstep to film soundtracks and classic rock – animated stage presence, and turntable trickery deployed at just the right time that got him over the line.
As Butcher celebrated his win, Los Angeles DJ Z-Trip showed the apprentices why he’s still the master, dropping everything from Black Sabbath to Skrillex to Santigold to the Sub Focus remix of Rusko and even Fleetwood Mac’s 'The Chain' from his L-shaped control centre of turntables, laptop and controllers – a re-edited 'California Love' with “In the city… city of Sydney” vocal snippet perhaps the best received moment of his set.
Still, it was DJ Butcher’s night, and even as he was waiting to take the stage for his victory set, his mind had already turned towards his first trip to Chicago and the tweaks his set would require to take the global crown.
DJ Butcher will represent Australia in the Red Bull Thre3style 2012 World Finals in Chicago, which will be the scene of a week-long party from Monday September 24 to Friday September 28.