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[whitespace] Mastering the Mix

Mix Master Mike showed off his scratching skills at the Catalyst

By David Espinoza

HOW MANY DJs does it take to screw in a light bulb? Trick question! DJs never finish screwing in a light bulb--they only screw it in halfway, test to see if it works, get tired of the whole project, switch to some other light bulb ... and the cycle starts again. The perfect example of this phenomenon would be Mix Master Mike of the famed Invisibl Skratch Piklz and most recently the turntable talent behind the Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty.

Headlining a show in front of a sparse crowd that seemed to be missing most of Santa Cruz's hip-hop aficionados (presumably, they were over at P-ville for KRS-One) and college students (out on vacation), Mix Master Mike hit the Catalyst stage late Friday (June 15) for an hour-long set that lacked direction. To be fair, MMM is a superb DJ with an excellent ear for dissecting tunes and mixing them together. The problem is, such skill is usually easier to appreciate during a hip-hop showcase or DJ competition where there is space to compare and the audience knows what it's in for. Friday night's crowd was more nightclub-oriented and ready to dance, but solid rhythms suitable for such purpose were nowhere to be found.

Sure, Mix Master Mike could have turned the party out if he had wanted to, but he choose to focus on wowing the audience with his lighting-fast scratching. At every turn, MMM teased the folks with familiar snippets of songs like Rage Against the Machine's "People of the Sun" and Rush's "Tom Sawyer," only to switch to a completely different beat every minute or so. The result was plenty of impressive turntablism with tons of time changes and record switching--and little consistency in the way of crowd pleasing. It's not as if skilled scratching and dancing can't coexist either--just look at the Beat Junkies.

Free Radio Santa Cruz

Hell must be freezing over--Free Radio Santa Cruz's Sunday-night benefit show at the Santa Cruz Vets Hall basement started on time and stuck to the scheduled performances. What's next? Business cards? As for the bands, screw anything by Disney or Warner Bros., the gig was the true teen hit of the weekend, with hordes of kiddies turning out for local favorites Here Kitty Kitty, Jetlag, the Missing 23rd and East Coast boys Strike Anywhere. What's more, the Vets Hall basement, forever a bastion of local DIY punk shows, has been renovated to look more like Well Within (rock fountain, couches) instead of the "turd in the corner" motif (ugly cement walls, random bits of crud, etc.). The punk ethic was not lost entirely with the new digs, as one of the bands duct-taped arrows in a circle next to the stage for the directionless slam dancer.

Openers Here Kitty Kitty continue to be the reigning champions of femme-fronted punkness, with Bad Religion chord progressions and Good Riddance-style singing. The cat face with the Xed-out eyes on Dave Lorber's bass drum was a nice touch, so was the band's cover of Lita Ford's "Kiss Me Deadly."

Neopunks Jetlag played a terrific set perfect for meat grinding or a blindfolded kleptomaniac. Comrade-in-arms Casey Pearman was his usual caged-animal self, with a white T-shirt reading "Free Casey Cynar!" in honor of their missing guitarist. East Coast natives Strike Anywhere offered a dose of ballistic thrash spew with a lead singer whose long dreadlocked hair seems modeled after Bad Brain's H.R.--pretty fly for a white guy.

Upcoming

Lesser of Two (San Francisco), Six Going on Seven, Lovelight Shine, Moods for Moderns and Zdrastvootie Mushi Mushi play 412 Front St., Santa Cruz, on Friday (June 22) at 7pm. Hard Luck Kids, Craig's Brother, Time Spent Driving and Daycare play the Catalyst on Thursday (June 21).

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From the June 20-27, 2001 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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