San Francisco's love of DJs continues. Fifteen years ago (yes, it’s been that long), the city was home to internationally-renowned pioneers of turntablism like the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and Triple Threat. Today, the turntablism style of rhythmically scratching vinyl songs on a record player is no longer widely popular, but the party-rocking style of DJing — or DJs who rhythmically mix together dance songs on a software program like Serato or Ableton — is in full swing.
Hence the arrival of Red Bull’s Thre3Style competition, where the motto is, “They Battle. You Dance.” The international contest hosts the West Sub-Qualifier here in San Francisco at the Independent on Jan. 24.
Contestants include well-known local DJs D-Sharp (tour DJ for Lyrics Born), J. Espinosa (on-air DJ at Wild 94.9 FM), Mei-Lwun, Richie Panic, and Dstrukt. The rules stipulate that each DJ gets a 15-minute set to demonstrate their "track selection, creativity, mixing, stage presence, and crowd reaction." And they can’t just stick to, say, hip-hop or EDM — they have to use a minimum of three styles of music in their sets. Local band Hot Pocket, which has a dense repertoire of soul, funk and hip-hop cover songs, opens the party.
The winner of the West Sub-Qualifier advances to the West Regional final next month in Seattle. The Red Bull Thre3Style World Finals will be held in December.