What’s better than a Battle of the Bands? How about a Battle of the Bass?
Instead of wannabe rock stars wailing away on their guitars and drums, four internationally respected music collectives will lay down deep grooves and slick turntable moves as they compete to win a Jamaican-style sound clash. It’s all part of the Red Bull Music Academy Culture Clash, which kicked off in London in 2010 and now makes its Miami debut Thursday night at the downtown club Grand Central.
Here’s how it works: Each collective sets up its own state-of-the-art sound system on one of four individual stages, where they’ll battle to be named winner by the crowd’s level of cheering, to be measured by a decibel meter. But it’s not as simple as it sounds, as each crew must endure four rounds of competition.
Round 1 is called “Temperature’s Rising,” where the DJs will have seven minutes to play whatever they want and feel out the crowd; next up is “The Selector” round, during which competitors will be judged on tune selection and presentation; then comes “Sleeping With the Enemy,” which takes the crews out of their comfort zones to perform an interpretation of another collective’s signature sound; and finally comes “The Decider,” where the clashing crews pull out their best tunes with the rule that only “dub plate specials” and exclusive live performances are allowed (no mere regular records).
The four competing music collectives are Slow Roast Records, founded by legendary turntable wizard DJ Craze and avant-garde producer Kill the Noise; Basshead Music, founded by U.K. DJ A-Sides and Miami’s own Juan BassHead; the Washington, D.C., house and reggaeton group Moombahton Massive; and the Black Chiney DJ Collective, which will team up with Eccentrix Sound for a unique fusion of dancehall, hip-hop and house. The night will be hosted by South Florida pop-culture icon Pepe Billete, who will inject his satirical sense of style into the event.
The Red Bull Culture Clash is not only a celebration of sound system culture and cross-genre experimentation, but it’s also a potential hotbed for celebrity sightings. Notable past competitors include Major Lazer, Soul II Soul, Trouble & Bass and SMOG, while surprise guests George Clinton, 2Chainz, DMX, Cam’ron, Usher and many others have cheered on the battles. Simply put, anything goes, and anything could happen.