These days, music is often seen more than it’s heard. Wednesday night’s second round of the Red Bull Thre3Style was an exciting example of that idea. Whether it was the unrivaled stage presence of India’s DJ Dippy, or Skratch Bastid teaming up with (OMG!) Sergio the “sexy sax man”, Vancouver was treated to an assault of more than just the aural sense. The second round was an evening that an audience member could reap the benefits of showing up early and leaving late.
Beginning with the seamless skills of locals The Freshest Crew’s groundwork of sub-bass rap music and club hits, immediately the cleaning crew (if they were in attendance) knew that they would be spending the following morning sweeping up earring backs off the floor due to the crowd’s incessant head snapping. Taking the daring first spot in the night’s competition, Spain’s BITCODE shook the knees of all in attendance by entering his set with a John Carpenter-esque instrumental intro, followed quickly by a display of scribbles, scratches, and top notch tunes like Daft Punk’s “Aerodynamic” and a surprising (but mind blowing) “Atomic” by Blondie.
Gasping for air, the packed house was immediately pleased by a Miami club-style set by Argentina’s finest, Robert Moreno. From Moreno’s first song, Vancouver knew what it was in for, and when he dropped En Vogue’s “Free Your Mind” all the metaphorical white flags came out, and those in attendance bowed in appreciation.
Of course, every international competition has a hometown favourite, and when Hedspin played third, out came the national and municipal pride. Knowing not only his home country, but also his hometown, Hedspin provided an amuse bouche with a sample of Russell Peters’ “Somebody gonna get a hurt real bad” stand up routine, immediately into Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”, punctuating the style segment immediately by going through the rock and roll front door.
India’s DJ Dippy painted flavour all over the competition by being the first competitor so far to rock CDJs, and proved to the audience that he could play them like an instrument. Peppering his set with Bhangra tracks, he also dropped what is probably the oldest track in this week’s competition with a vintage recording of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”, and ending with the Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up”. It should also be mentioned that he blended in the Super Mario theme, which earned him thunderous applause.
While waiting for the final decision, Wednesday’s late night community, mouths agape, eyes widened, was caught absorbing a modern, visual set by the legendary Peanut Butter Wolf. Looping a video/audio clip of “Once In A Lifetime” straight into a Rye Rye tune, might have been his highlight, but Das EFX’ “They Want EFX” didn’t disappoint either.
To the relief of the crowd, local hero, and all around crowd darling, Hedspin moved onto the finals, whilst tiny Canadian flags waved in support. As the evening spun to an end, the widest smiles prevailed over the entire venue as Scratch Bastid dropped a both poignant and hilarious set of videos, the watermark being Sir Mix A Lot’s “Jump On It” but instead of the OG video, he presented Carleton and Will’s arms akimbo stripper routine from an early season of The Fresh Prince Of Belair. Internet memes in person, hometown heroes, and visual references from your childhood; what more could you possibly ask from an event?