It was an unusually chili night outside in Phoenix, AZ but inside the Monarch nightclub things got heated as fans packed the house to watch the first six contestants of the Red Bull Thr3e Stylel DJ competition go head to head for a chance to punch their ticket to the final four.
In the end it was D.C.’s DJ Trayze and the hometown hero DJ Akshen that would move on for a chance to represent the U.S. in the World Finals in Tokyo. According to judge DJ Four Color Zack, it was the fortitude and originality that set these two apart from the rest.
“What [the winners] brought that was different from everybody else was a real personable and original approach to the music they were playing. They stood behind stuff that they clearly liked and that wasn’t necessarily the easy choice, plus they had a lot of great tricks. [Akshen and Trayze] were great showmen,” noted Zack.
But the other contestants didn't make it easy. Each took turns showing off their skills in front of the standing room only crowd with their best 15 minute set and as the title suggests, they had to touch on at least three different genres of music.
Kansas City regional champ DJ B-Stee kicked things off with a high energy opening set starting off with some classic hip hop including Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message,” before delving into some 80s pop with Nena’s “99 Luftbaloons,” followed by a touch of dancehall. Then Chi-Town’s Boi Jeanius kept the momentum going with some pop-infused break beats, followed by some infectious dubstep and nice moves on the AFX but the Windy City champion’s irony was lost on the crowd when he threw on Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”
When Phoenix regional champ Ashen stepped up, he had an obvious home court advantage showing off his scratch skills and taking the room to a whole other level with unique blends of modern hits like Kanye West’s “Black Skinhead” mixed with house and Rae Sremmurd’s “No Flex Zone.” Akshen even walked out from behind the tables to toss towels with his name on them to the people solidifying his spot as the people’s champ.
Taking on the monumental task of following Akshen was Miami’s DJ Obscene and he did not disappoint, delivering an energetic, strategically prepared set that many thought would solidify his spot in Saturday night’s final. From hip hop to 80s electrofunk including a seamless transition from OT Genasis’ “Coco” line “Whip it through the glass” to 80s pop group Devo’s hit song “Whip It.”
Then there was Trayze who garnered an immediate laugh from the crowd after he used baking soda to shower the crowd LeBron James style, all to the sounds of…you guessed it, OT Genasis’ “Coco.”In one of the evening’s most hip hop heavy sets Trayze utilized his creativity and sense of humor, incorporating songs like the whistling theme to the Andy Griffith Show, which he then used as a launch pad to get the people going before transitioning into the Too Short hit “Blow The Whistle.” He wound down his set with an infusion of rock tunes “Old Time Rock n’ Roll and the Guns n’ Roses hit “Welcome to the Jungle.”
Ohio native DJ Spare Change, who won the Indianapolis regional, came out locked and loaded taking aim at the other DJs with verbal quips such as shouting out Trayze with Nate Dogg’s graphic verse from “Ain’t No Fun.” The crowd seemed to be feeling his set, especially after putting on an Arizona-centered version of “California Love” which replaced the state and various Cali city names with some of that Phoenix love. Despite his peak moments, which included him doing a srratch-based version of “Mary Had A Little Lamb” Spare Change lost the crowd a few times with some ill-perceived pauses.
Competition was stiff and in the end the judges chose DJ Trayze and DJ Akshen to advance to the finals. Capping off the night was DJ Grand Theft and Hedspin, who had the place in a full-on dance off.
If the opening night was any indication of what’s to come its’ a good thing there will be plenty of Red Bull at the venue. Stay tuned for more real time coverage fro the Red Bull Thr3e Style National Final.
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(Photo: Carlo Cruz/Red Bull Content Pool)