Acumen Feat DJ Grotesque, Seth Sentry, Jack Viney
21 January 2010
Princes Wharf 1 Hobart
By Keith Churchill
An amateur sociological analysis from yours truly (MC Write Response) would hazard a guess that around 70% of those attending Grand Master Flash et al. would not have been conceived before the commercial release of “The Adventures of Grand Master Flash on The Wheels of Steel” in 1981. Given this “fact”, the healthy-sized crowd is testament to the legend and reputation that proceeds the man who (and he reminds us more than once) turned the turntable and vinyl record into an “instrument”.
The support act DJ Grotesque, with crew Acumen, illustrated just how far this musical genre has evolved from purpose built analogue mixing desks and diamond needles on vinyl records to mp3 music files on decks and laptops, scratching, mashing and mixing tunes set to a stunning video track on the big screen with some fine v-jay work. Eclectic would be an understatement when describing their source material ranging from prog-rock to pop to metal to soul including a nod to the festival curator in a Violent Femmes tune. Matching “Son of a preacher man” to a reggae beat was simply wrong but it worked!
Prior to Grand Master Flash’s arrival on stage a mini-documentary testified to his pioneering mixing skills providing a detailed description of his revolutionary handling of a vinyl record.
Initially Flash’s side-kick did some DJ work whilst Flash forcefully explained the three rules of the hip hop party that the audience were to abide by in order to have a good time. These included: 1. Make a noise when told to (generally roar), 2. Put your mother f@#*ing hands in the air when told to, and 3. Sing the song when told.
After Flash’s commandments had been handed down he and his side kick reversed roles and GM Flash launched us into that old chestnut “We Will Rock You”, with the bass-heavy mix literally vibrating my internal organs (thanks for the free earplugs MoFo).
Being a long term disciple of the punk rock genre, I was seriously concerned about my ability to deliver on commandments one to three, particularly as I have an aversion to anyone commanding me to do anything. However the seething mass around me up front were more than compliant for the next one and a half hours, moving like a single organism as Flash, with his signature old school scratching techniques, served up tunes that anyone having lived in an English speaking part of the planet with access to a radio over the last thirty years would know, including his signature tune “the Message”.
When reflecting on the night there is no doubt that Grand Master Flash’s reputation for being able to fire up and work a crowd is well deserved, but I can't help but see him as a museum piece trotting out the same old call and response routine (insert city name here…) over the same old tracks as though stuck in some sort of musical cul-de sac while the other DJs continue to evolve the art.