DJ Z Trip performs at the Red Bull Thre3style Celebration at the South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Tex., in March. | Garth Milan ~ Red Bull Content Pool
RED BULL THRE3STYLE WORLD FINAL EVENT
♦ 10 p.m. Sept. 29
♦ Metro, 3730 N. Clark
♦ Tickets, $10
They take their place behind the turntables and countless pieces of technology. Countless people stand just feet away, gazing at them to see what they are going to do. The music starts and the volume builds and the floor starts shaking. At the final moment, the final song drops . . . and the crowd essentially loses their mind.
It’s a moment eighteen DJs from around the world have been envisioning for months. After battling it out in regional and national qualifiers, they have gathered in Chicago for the world finals of Red Bull Thre3style, an innovative concept that gives highly skilled DJs a platform to battle, perform, gain notoriety and express themselves in a party atmosphere.
The rules are simple.
Each DJ has 15 minutes to rock the crowd with a set that incorporates at least three genres of music. Throughout the week, a panel of music-industry judges has been determining the world champion based on track selection, creativity, mixing skills, stage presence and crowd reaction. On Sept. 29, the winner of those four nights advances to the Red Bull Thre3style World Final at Metro.
“It’s about putting on a performance and getting the crowd pumped and on the dance floor,” remarks 24-year-old DJ Alex Butcher, a Red Bull Thre3style finalist. “There is a lot of talk about this technology shift we are seeing in the industry. But the bottom line is if the crowd isn’t feeling what you are doing up there, it’s pointless. You still have to know how to read a crowd and watch their faces.”
“It’s an art form, “adds Zach Sciacca, otherwise known as DJ Z-Trip. “It’s an art to read the crowd and know when the time is right to push the boundaries. We have no room in this industry for someone to just go up there and push buttons. The fact is that there is technology and I am stoked that we have the ability to use it. But it’s like a band like Green Day or the Rolling Stones getting up on stage and putting their instruments down. No one wants to listen to a DJ that is so programmed that there is simply no margin of error. The margin of error is what makes us real and appreciated. If you are just going to get up there and have a flawless set, the element of humanity is taken out of it.”
Currently working on a new album and planning further collaborations with LL Cool J, Z-Trip says that this sort of competition is something that promotes the industry as a whole.
“It’s going to take a certain amount of just the right ingredients to win,” says Z-Trip, who is serving a Red Bull Thre3style ambassador and special performance guest. “More importantly, it’s inspiring to gather these talented DJs together and share with one another different music and different approaches when they come over here. It’s a time to spend in Chicago record shopping and swapping tools and networking with one another, ultimately forming long-lasting friendships with others in the industry.”
Or perhaps, it’s also about spending some time looking for a good deep dish pizza.
“We have heard so much about this deep dish pizza, so we are in search of a good pizzeria right now,” laughs Butcher, who was born and raised in Australia. “I’m fairly sure that I would have never ended up in Chicago if it wasn’t for my job description as a DJ.”
Tricia Despres is a local free-lance writer.