Live Review: Red Bull Thre3style Canadian National Finals

November 20th, 2011


Saturday Nov. 13, Sound Academy, Toronto

Posted by Caelin Meredith

Last Saturday night the Red Bull Thre3style regional finalists took over the Sound Academy in Toronto. Having already battled it out in regional competitions, the finalists were flown into town to hash it out in front of thousands of fans (and dare I say “groupies”). With only 15 minutes each on the clock, they had to perform a live mix to highlight technical skills, tune selection, genre variation — and most important, to hype the crowd.

Names were drawn from a hat to set the order, with Drastik (Toronto) appearing last as the reigning champ. When he was asked whether there was an advantage to playing first because of song selection or to playing last because the bar had been set, he shook his head and said, “It don’t matter what you play … it’s how you play it.” And when asked who might be a worthy adversary, he said, “I’m looking out for Hedspin. He’s the one to watch — plus, he’s my partner.”

Judged by Grahmzilla, Jonathan Ramos, Grand Theft, DJ Dopey and Jesse Walton, the two-and-a-half-hour showcase was intense. Each selector definitely brought a unique flavour and vibe. I’d have to say the hometown boys had it best, with their legions of disciples out in full force, but that didn’t stop the others from truly representing.

The winner of the night will go on to represent Canada in the international finalsagainst heavyweights from Brazil, the U.S. and the UK. So who came out on top? Well, you gotta read on to find out!

Here’s a breakdown on each DJ and the four songs with the biggest crowd reactions.

Creeasian - Edmonton

First up, and setting the tone for the whole night. He had a hard-hitting intro and his set was definitely the most soulful of the evening.

* “Rock Steady” – Aretha Franklin

* “Fantastic Voyage” – Lakeside

* “Push the Feeling On” – Nightcrawlers

* Finale – Hockey Night in Canada Mashup

Adam Doubleyou – Quebec City

A hot, sweaty island-style set with soca and bossanova influences. Tune selection was his strength, and obscure genre blending. Plus, you have to have cojones to end your set with Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer.”

* “Let’s Start the Dance” – Bohannon

* “Don’t Stop (Wiggle Wiggle)” – Outhere Brothers

* “Smack My Bitch Up” – Prodigy

* “Super Sharp Shooter” – DJ Zinc

Kid SL – Ottawa

Made a great statement opening with a custom intro track: “F*ck the Red Bull Style.” And displaying some tricks.

* “Rock the Funky Beats” – Aphrodite

* “Killing Me Softly” – Fugees

* “These Sounds Fall Into My Mind” – Kenny Dope

* “I Feel Good” – James Brown

Hedspin – Van City

Technically, an incredible DJ. But some of his more obscure tracks, I think, went over the crowd’s head — they seemed fickle, waiting for the bigger jams to drop.

* “Rock Around the Clock” – Bill Haley

* “A-punk” – MGMT vs. “On the Next One” – Jay-Z

* “Hold Yuh” – Gyptian (Shy FX remix)

* “Take Me Higher” Kanye West

Kato – Calgary

Due to sound issues, this set started and stopped a few times. Never an ideal situation, since you have to work twice as hard to get the momentum back up. But he slayed it with a confident, diverse set matched with crazy scratching.

* “They Reminisce Over You” – Pete Rock and CL Smooth

* “Rollin in the Deep” – Adele

* “Fade Away” – IDFK

* “Look at Me Now” – Chris Brown

Mensa – Toronto

I don’t know if it was hometown bias, but the sound definitely got louder for his set. It was a jump-up, high-octane set with anthems. He was well represented in the crowd.

* “Rum and Red Bull” – Beenie Man

* Mash up: White Stripes vs. Party Like a Rock Star

* “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” – Michael Jackson

* “All of the Lights”- Rhianna

Hipnotic – Winnipeg

Technically a great DJ — and all over the place in terms of musical style.

* “High State of Consciousness” – Josh Wink

* “Power” – Snap

* “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” – PM Dawn

* “Romie” – Beenie Man

Kid MK- London

A cocky set — and I mean that in a good way. Opening with the 20th Century Fox movie theme, he delivered a aoca-flavoured set complete with flag-waving. This may have been what caused the groupies to throw bras and underwear on stage.

* “Goodbye (Na Na Na)” – Steam

* “Smells Like Teen Spirit” – Nirvana

* “Do What They Told Ya” – RATM vs. “Girls” – Jay-Z

* “Lose Yourself” – Eminem

Hatchmatik – Montreal

No other DJ attacked the decks with the same fury as Hatchmatik. He set out to prove that selection and enthusiasm will win over the hard partiers, and had everyone in the joint bouncing.

* “I Like to Move It” Reel 2 Real

* “Still” – Dre and Snoop

* “Hello” – Martin Solveig/Dragonette

* “Show me love” – Robin S

Plaeboi – Halifax

He was a showman — complete with slow rise from behind the decks and lots of singing back to the crowd and calling out his competitors. His set was hard and bass-driven.

* “Rock you” – Helix (Plaeboi remix)

* “Mama Said Knock You Out” – LL Cool J

* “Satisfaction” – Rolling Stones vs. “Satisfaction” Benny Benassi

* “Public Sound Off” – KRS One

Drastik- Toronto (Defending Champion)

There was a lot of pressure, but Drastik left no doubt why he won last year. A good mix of quick cuts, fast, heavy samples and the right drops revealed why skill alone isn’t what wins you this competition.

* “Over” – Drake

* “Heads High (Kill’em With the No)” – Mr. Vegas

* “Enter Sandman” Metallica vs. Dubstep Mashup

* “Where’s Your Head At” – Basement Jaxx

But only one king can wear the crown — and in the end, it was … wait for it … Van city’s own Hedspin. A tight call for sure, but a worthy champion.

Click here to listen to the mixes.


[All photos by Caelin Meredith]