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DJ Qbert - Live at Yoshi's

Until May 14th, I’d never seen Qbert perform live.  I’d been following his career since I was 13, seen Wavetwisters more times than I like to admit, even been to the famous Octagon Lair a couple times – but I’d still never seen a “DJ Qbert show”.  I had recently moved to the Bay area so I knew it was just a matter of time before Q would play a show within driving distance. So when I heard he was playing at Yoshi’s in San Francisco, I had to be there.

As an active part of QSU, I was in a unique position.  After discussing it with the Thud Rumble team, we decided to document the night for the QSU community. This was a special show for Q, as he was debuting his new mixtape and set titled “Dymentional Tryportation”.  I was honored at the opportunity to capture such an important night, but also nervous.  Enjoying the show would be secondary to successfully filming the show.  Luckily, I had help in the form of an experienced cameraman and my girlfriend, who were both essential for keeping me calm.

Together we arrived at Yoshi’s around 7pm, armed with multiple HD cameras, tripods, backup batteries, and plenty of blank tapes.  There was another show going on inside (A Tribute to the Great Ladies of Jazz) and we were told we could not have access to the room until after 9pm.  So we dropped the equipment back at the car, and took a walk to get some Korean food nearby.  After a leisurely meal we met up with Ted from Thud Rumble back at Yoshi’s, who was setting up the merchandise table in the lobby.  Soon more of the Thud Rumble crew arrived.  Ritche (aka Yogafrog) took us backstage to where Q was warming up.  He was in a backroom of the dressing room, deep in concentration, skratching in headphones on his custom portable table, the sweet smell of sage lingering in the air.  In the dressing room enjoying some of Yoshi’s fine catering were close friends of Q’s, including the Infamous Toadman.

We didn’t want to distract Q, so after a quick photo op and shoutout to QSU we left him alone.  It was now past 9 and time to set up the cameras.  Veteran cameraman Jesse set up on a tripod by the soundboard, plugging directly in so we could have good quality audio of the show to use in our video project.  I set up another camera on a tripod upstairs on the balcony (which was off limits to the public, giving me ample room to record), and with a third handheld camera, we were ready. 

The show soon got underway with Cellskiii of La Femme Deadly Venoms starting things off with a funky turntable set (all vinyl!).  Then the lights dimmed and ominous music began booming out the speakers.  Dymentional Tryportation had begun.  Qbert appeared in front of the cheering crowd, alongside two foreboding masked men fully dressed as ninjas (these we would soon find out, were the Shamans of Skratch), and together with Qbert they took their stance in front of turntables.   

Q proceeded to take the crowd on a journey of sound, parts of which combined eastern mysticism with heavy bass beats, next level skratching, and trippy visuals displayed on a towering screen.  At various points, the Shamans took turns skratching with Q, but for the majority of the set they stood still as statures.  The ambiance this created is hard to describe, but it was pretty awesome.   

Q’s skratching blended perfectly with the music – providing the lead voice to the thumping beats.  The audience loved it, dancing and cheering Q on as he threw records and other Thud Rumble products into the crowd.  Towards the end of the show, Q starting juggling records with such precision it made me wonder why he doesn’t do it more often.  Q broke out some classic breaks for the b-boys and kept the rest of us transfixed on his hands as he juggled break after break.

The show ended with a Q & A session with the Skratch Shamans before Celskiii jumped back on the wheels to play out the night.  Q met with fans in the lobby, diligently signing everything presented to him and taking pictures.  Forever humble, Qbert patiently stayed in the lobby until everyone had a chance to meet with him.  After the fans cleared out, it was just the Thud Rumble crew and us again.  After we wrapped up our camera chords and packed up the equipment, it was time for the long drive back to Vallejo. 

I left that night very happy.  The night was a success – the show was great and we have the footage to prove it.  Now just need to edit it all together… but that’s another story.  A big thank you goes out to Thud Rumble for organizing the event- Ted, Charles, Yogafrog, Eldawg, and of course DJ Qbert!  Peace to QSU – you’ll see the footage soon!

Check out El Dawg's pics here: http://yfrog.com/nqfnrz 

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