Battle of the Beats
by Cory Perla
Buffalo’s best young DJs compete at Lux this Saturday
To DJ Jake “Brother Bear” Broffman, spinning records is like running. Like a runner, his morning routine starts with a warmup. A session might begin with some music with a lower beat-per-minute ratio, like hip hop, then he’ll work his way up to mid-tempo genres like house or techno and gradually to dubstep or trap, which are typically higher BPM tracks.
“It’s kind of like getting loose,” says the 24-year-old who has worked as a resident DJ at various Buffalo nightclubs. “Some runners, they stretch and jump up and down before a race. I take the same approach, I like to get musically loose.”
Broffman is warming up for the Red Bull Thre3style U DJ competition coming up this Saturday, March 30 at Lux Nightclub on Chippewa, an event that gives amateur DJs a platform to showcase their skills, battle other DJs, get their name out there, and for one of them, win some money. The prize is $1,000. Broffman is on a list of DJs that includes Big Rob, C Perfect, Iceberg, Wallnuttz, RichieB, Deadbeat, and his friend, Ryan “Arehouse” Howze.
“This is a pretty unique DJ battle,” says Howze, 23. The contest is unique because unlike battles that are based solely on technical aspects, the Thre3style format asks each DJ to spin tracks from a minimum of three different musical genres with a time limit of 15 minutes. This means each performer will choose from a variety of genres like hip hop, deep house, dubstep, moombahton, techno, or whatever they think will keep the crowd moving. Howze considers the concept of moving between genres the biggest challenge of the competition. “A DJ’s worst nightmare can be transitioning between tracks with different BPMs,” Howze says, who in his spare time likes to produce moombahton music, a relatively new brand of bass music with some latin and electro flavor mixed in. “I feel honored that the guys at Red Bull Buffalo think highly enough of me to make me a part of this,” he says.
Each DJ will try their hands at either two turntables or two CDJs, two dicers—devices that allow the DJ to set cue points, loop, and effect a track—a mixer, and a midi controller of their choice. They’ll be judged on crowd reaction, track selection, creativity, mixing skills, and stage presence. DJ Heat and DJ DStar, both well-known Buffalo DJs, will co-host the contest and also judge as part of a panel of industry experts.
For DStar, real name Don Skotnicki, whacky haircuts and giant masks won’t score any bonus points for these DJs.
“I’m going to be looking for someone who is unique and technically skilled. I’m hoping someone really surprises me,” says Skotnicki, who won the Artvoice Best of Buffalo award for “Best DJ” in 2012. His advice to the DJs: Prepare.
For Broffman, preparation for this event will be different than preparation for a typical DJ set at the club. Normally he’ll go into a DJ set, which can last hours, with a small handful of tracks and go with the flow from there. “I don’t really like to plan things,” he says. “But in this case I have a time constraint and rules on what genres I have to play, if I went up there and just winged it, it wouldn’t be as technically sound.”
Howze agrees. “I usually have an hour or two to play with, now I have to tell the story in 15 minutes,” he says. Red Bull has held different versions of Thre3style events all over the world from LA to Chicago and Chile to Malaysia. This version of the event focuses more on college and amateur DJs than professionals, but to Skotnicki, it is a step in the right direction for Buffalo, which has had its ups and downs as far as the DJ scene goes. “For me, being a part of this event means furthering DJ culture in Buffalo.”
Doors open at 10pm. No cover for people over the age of 21. 18+, $15 for ladies, $20 for gentlemen.
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