ArtistWorks Blog

Qbert and D-Styles @ Low End Theory

It was Thursday and it'd been a busy week around the office. I was in the middle of editing the footage from Q's last show when I looked at my phone. I had a text message.  It was Ted from Thud Rumble.

"Are you pumped for tomorrow night??"

Was I pumped? I couldn't sleep. When I did sleep, I had strange dreams of skratching.

I'd been prepping my girlfriend all week by showing her old footage of Q and D, breaking down the history, and listening to D-Styles' album Phantazmagorea.

It had only been a few days after the Yoshi's show that I first heard the news: Qbert will be performing a special set at the upcoming Low End Theory in SF… with D-Styles.

D-STYLES!!! Having been over 10 years since the last time they performed together, this was A BIG DEAL. Q and D have always been considered the top echelon of skratching. Back in the 90s, they went together like PB and J. But for reasons beyond me, they had decided to go separate ways around the year 2000.

I knew 3 things: I had to be there, I had to film it, and I had to get the audio from the soundboard. The first 2 were easy enough, I was already on the all access list and I knew I'd be able to get good footage like I did at Yoshi's. But I'd never been to the Low End Theory before, and I had no idea what to expect. Also, I was the only one from ArtistWorks going and this was my first solo mission for QSU. Needless to say, the anticipation was high.

I left the office early on Friday so I could have plenty of time to get there for sound check, which was scheduled for 7:30. My girlfriend and I left Vallejo around 5:45 to allow for traffic and wrong turns (of which there were both).

After finally arriving at the venue, which has 2 addresses (103 Harriet, or 1015 Folsom depending on who you ask), we parked on a side street and made our way inside. The place was huge! With muliple rooms and levels, there were speakers EVERYWHERE! The only people there were the Low End guys getting set up, so I nervously made my way over to Daddy Kev and introduced myself. I'd never met Daddy Kev before but I recognized him from pictures and was excited to meet the man who engineered Phantazmagorea. I told him I was filming the show for QSU and that I'd like to plug into the soundboard to get the audio. He said it wouldn't be an issue, but there was no need to plug into the soundboard because he was already planning to record it and would send me a copy of the raw audio. This was great news to me, because it meant I didn't need to have one of the cameras stationed by the soundboard, and I could set it up on a tripod on the balcony for a better stationary angle.



Soon Q arrived with the Thud Rumble crew and began to set up their equipment. I still hadn't spotted D yet but knew it was only a matter of time. Sure enough, there he was on stage messing with some chords. He seemed to just appear out of nowhere, which seemed to fit his character. He's always been known as being low key, something I've always related to, but to anyone involved with skratching - this guy is a MONSTER. I didn't want to disturb him during sound check, but I was very excited to meet the enigmatic man who goes by the alias of Wax Fondler. I'd brought the record sleeves from Phantazmagorea and Wavetwisters for him to sign, but didn't want to geek out on him either.




As they started checking the sound, the full impact of what was happening hit me. I was witnessing something that no one had seen in over 10 years. There I was, together with just a handful of people catching a glimpse of what was to come later that night. As I stood in the front of the stage watching Q and D casually cutting up in their signature Q and A style, Ted motioned me to come up to the side of the stage to get a better view. "Get up here man, you're in the family!" What a rare treat that was.

After sound check Ted introduced me to D-Styles, who was very nice and graciously signed my records, which were both two groundbreaking albums for the turntablist movement.  It was now around 8, and they were scheduled to perform at 1:30. So while Q slipped away to rest up, a bunch of us walked over to Ted's place a few blocks away.



Back at Ted's place we all gravitated toward the turntables. Charles was showing off his battle routines, and Sly-T instigated friendly riverly amongst the crew, as we each took our turns at the turntables. In the other room, Ted put on a DVD of an old Qbert show from what seemed to be from the first QFO Tour. Sly-T came over and after watching for a minute declared, "Hey that's me!". Indeed, there he was on stage acting as emcee for the show. When I asked him when this was, he said he'd been on stage for so many shows that he didn't even remember what city or year it was. Must be nice!

Around midnight we headed back to the venue. By now it was packed. There was a line of people down the block waiting to get in, and inside it was elbow to elbow. We made our way to the stage and with our special orange wristbands, we were granted access to the inner sanctum. There was a balcony area that was (at that point) off limits to the public, so I set up the tripod front and center and stuck a camera on it. I got out the second camera for my hand held close ups, and was ready for the show.

The show began with a similar intro as the Dymentional Tryportation show. The stage went dark and the ominous music began. Qbert came out first, followed by the enigmatic Shamans of Skratch, and the crowd went nuts. Q took his place stage right and began skratching some tabla drums over the music, setting the tone for the set.

Soon he was joined by D-Styles and they began an incredible 30 minute set that left the crowd wanting more. Although it'd been over 10 years, seeing them together it felt like no time had past at all. They ended the show with a memorable rendition of the D-Styles' contribution to Wavetwisters, "Razor Blade Alcohol Slide".   Cut like a guillotine!



When it was over, the crowd went wild as the two skratch veterans hugged like brothers.  It was a powerful moment. The vibe of the room was so positive and appreciative to what had just occurred, it was just beautiful.

qbert d styles low end theoryThis is a taste of things to come.  Although there are many clips from the show already posted on YouTube, this is the ONLY one with the actual sound from the board - and it was posted by Daddy Kev himself. Good to his word, Kev sent me the entire sound file which I will edit together with the footage I took from the balcony. QSU Students: find the show in Turntable TV under Performances ;) 

Big thanks to everyone who made this night such a success: Daddy Kev, the Thud Rumble crew, and of course Q and D!

Until next time...

- ADA

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