Krush at Berbati's Pan
become our own DJs
mingle is mangled for DJ Krush down at Berbati's Pan. Frat boys
and dreadlocks. Hip young Japanese kids taking Andy Warhol's awkward
cool to a whole new level. B-girls and art geeks. Spinners.
Pan: A good place for appreciators of the simple wiles of
Now that Phish has ended, the spinners have dispersed,
and DJ culture is a good place for them to land. To wit: the grooves
never stop. It's also a good place for other appreciators of the
simple wiles of music rhythmic wiles not suffering the
warbles of Garcia and Weir.
However, the vast majority of this night's admirers
at the longstanding Portland hotspot hardly dance at all, content
to simply nod their heads to the beats while clutching drinks
Not that I'm freakin', just noddin' and clutchin'
realizing that the whole notion of DJing hinges on disconnecting
the left side of the brain. Don't analyze tons of reverb, just
close your eyes and go. But, like meditation or any other transcendental
experience (and the left-brain is often in need of being transcended),
once you realize you've done it, you come crashing back to Earth.
On the Earth of the past, radio DJs used to play
what they wanted, spinning what they liked and creating a feeling.
Then payola and Clear Channel put an iron grip on things. Now
the playlist of songs on radio stations I surf numbers in the
low hundreds, while my MP3s (should I ever get off my ass and
encode all my vinyl and CDs) number in the thousands. Since radio
DJs aren't real anymore, we've become our own DJs.
Moreover, people will steal every MP3 they want
and then pay to see a DJ mix live what they used to hear on the
radio for free. The celebrity DJ (such as Krush a man who
crosses all boundaries) inhabits a unique role, actually, as deconstructor
of the high-school geek's mix-tape, with skills. He blends bits
from here, beats from there and discrete scratching with an unerring
ear, emulating the deeply considered flow of an old mix tape.
Krush openers Alter Echo and ERS1 look like a couple
northern California mountain boys, if you catch my drift. They
calmly rock the beats. Nicely toasted 94 beats per minute. Seamless
flows from one deep groove to the next. Punk frat and geek-boy
monkey dance near the stage. Lovely, lovely.
But the advertised visuals, for all intents, are
sad, washed-out colored shapes vaguely changing in dim projection
on a sheet behind the band.
Who needs elaborate visuals when protecting a drink
celebrity DJ: Krush is a man who crosses all borders.
Over on the other side of the room, nothing's changed.
People getting their freak on, people working out the trapezius
and the Rolling Rock muscle. But it's kind of weird; as the first
pair minutes ago halted their turntables, piped-in, between-sets
grooves fit the shoes perfectly, and no one really notices the
At a live DJ show even the live DJ is expendable.
The left brain recedes again, rendering who or what is DJing to
The kick-drum reigns supreme.
DJ Krush tentatively walks out, perhaps displaying
some Japanese reserve. He's dapper in fedora and brown polo shirt.
A slight glance at the audience and it's right to work; pumping
a free-jazz-horn-flight full of ether. Kettle-drum beats grip
the feets, locking the spiritual to the earth. That's the way
we might describe it through the "mystical Orient filter."
Or we might say he tweaks the hard rock.
Krush's minimalist audio sculptures can't help but
move the butt, Zen calm or no. For Krush, it seems reverb is king;
that's what moves the spine. After a while it moves the spine
to the other, oft-overlooked little bar in the back of Berbati's.
Always tip your server well.
DJ Krush fans (and those who've seen Scratch) know
Krush has real skills. But, for the most part, who can see them?
Who can even hear them? Once in a while the visible top part of
his hand starts moving in a funny way, but most of the time other
manipulations uninteresting to watch generate aural
Krush hunches over his turntables, half a set of
earphones cradled under his ear, or he stands shuffling through
a small case of records. Now and again he looks up, either sternly
surveying the audience or, with a shy, slightly self-satisfied
grin, seemingly seeking our approval.
for a DJ: Just close your eyes and go.
Quitting time finally rolls around for those not
willing to keep raving 'til 5 a.m. Krush flashes one last grin.
Immediately, fans start chanting "Krush
Krush" to coax an encore. It's a scary chant at face value
and the notion of an encore for a DJ strikes me as suspect. With
a quick assessment of ill-advised discretion I dash for the door,
reasoning that if Krush actually does an encore, my body won't
Wrong again, I learn later, as Krush apparently
provided a brief, triumphant ultimate mix of John Lennon and free
Hey, what are you gonna do?