DJ Wicked shreds The Grove

MUSIC: Believe The Hype

By Jeff Trainor

For almost two years, DJ Wicked has been about the closest an out-of-towner gets to resident status at the Grove. Helming the club's sound system at least once a month, he journeys from Portland and puts his hip-hop turntablism-schooled hands and a diverse record collection through hell for hours on end, all for the pleasure of Bend's mix-lovers and dance-heads.

Our first experience checking out Wicked's live performance skills came on Thursday, January 6, when the frigid, snowy winds and slippery roads might have kept the faint-hearted huddled safely inside their homes.

The weather apparently didn't discourage dancers, drinkers, and drinkin' dancers much though, as the G-spot's main room was stuffed by the time the DJ set his junk in motion somewhere around 11:30 pm.

Picking up where a tight warm-up mixing sesh by Portland compatriot/undy and oldie hip-hop aficionado/traveling companion DJ Sun left off, DJ Wicked laid into the crowd with a taste of his stage name-worthy scratching skills early on.

About as quickly, the stone-faced, b-boy styled DJ began to reveal his proclivity for spinning diverse styles of mostly-popular music, following up some buttery R&B goodness with a handful of Latin dancemakers.

Soon enough, Wicked's well-educated hip-hop side began to glimmer in the candlelight and projected visual stimuli, rolling in smoothly with Lyrics Born and The Poets of Rhythm's soulful "I Changed My Mind." In the same underground and/or conscious rap vein, Beastie Boys tracks old and new were to follow, as well as Eric B & Rakim, the Pharcyde, and other, unidentified perpetrators--from the golden days through ot-4.

Of course, Wicked--being of verifiably schizophrenic musical mind--interspersed the preceding with all the broad tactical range the rest of his four crates o'vinyl had to offer, throwing in current top-40 dancefloor hits, way-back hip-hop, '80s and '90s embarrassments and jewels a la his recent long-playing mix, got milf?, and so on--a bit of the ol' Snoop to-the-D-o-double-gizzle here, a pinch of Dee-Lite there...all kept the heads and tails a bobbin'.

Standouts amid the diabolical mixing genius included the "Billy Jean" (Michael Jackson)/ "Milkshake" (Kelis) hybrid that figures on got milf? (and must be one of the grooves of the decade so far), as well as a fine woody-beat-laden "Brass Monkey." The latter led into a vibraty trancelike state studded with jaw-dropping, lightning quick scratching, followed by a spectacularly effective use of the intro riff to Van Halen's "Jump."

Wicked's turntable skills certainly weren't diluted in his lengthy solo set, despite the absence of his usual accompanist at the Grove, DJ Wels--the other half of the Style Molesters. Rhythmically perfect scratching, beat juggling, and several other manners of record-as-instrument antics--besides just plain mind-bogglingly quick and seamless mixing--figured prominently, and more than lived up to the promise of Wicked's recent mix CDs (available at a downtown Bend record store or two near you).

Wicked and Wels will return to the Grove in their four-turntable format February 10, once Wels' broken thumb is healed.

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