For the third consecutive year, two excellent, true skool hip-hop festivals took place over the long Easter weekend in Ireland-- the DJ themed Community Skratch Games in Galway in the West of Ireland and the graffiti & b-boy themed 3rd Annual All City Tivoli Jam on the opposite coast in the country's capital, Dublin. Both were highly successful and relatively intimate-scale events, drawing a few hundred die-hard hip-hop heads between the two bi-coastal gatherings. Of course, having two similarly themed events taking place in a country as small as Ireland, where hip-hop happenings like this don't occur often, presents a dilemma for fans who are forced to choose one over the other since they happen at the exact same time on opposite coasts of Ireland. Hence, to properly cover this past weekend's two events for the Amoeblog, I hopped on a bus and headed cross country to Galway to attend the Community Skratch Games while my man, and frequent Amoeblog Irish reporter, Tall Paul Lowe, stayed in Dublin for the All City Tivoli Jam.
Now in its fourth year, the aptly named Community Skratch Games (CSG), which features several DJ based showcases and a scratch DJ battle over the long weekend, is truly all about community with a genuine emphasis on fun & camaraderie rather than on competition & seriousness. In fact, the prize for the winner of the CSG's annual DJ battle is not a trophy (a la the famed DMC or ITF battles) but a big bag of Irish breakfast meats (rashers, sausages, black pudding etc., all supplied by the local butcher) that the winning DJ traditionally shares with the other participants in a big breakfast cookout on "Skratch Monday" after all events are over. At this year's DJ battle on Saturday night (dubbed the "Community Skratch Open Freestyle Battle Royale"), ten turntablists went head to head, scratching for 16 bars each. To help mark the end of each 16 bars, drummer Tony Higgins dramatically crashed two cymbals together to the obvious entertainment of the packed crowd.
Over the years I have attended countless DJ battles and I must say that this one had to have been the most enjoyable & non stressful and had the most laid back vibe of any DJ battle I have witnessed. The Battle Royale was won by Deviant, who competed against such other skilled turntablists as Discuss (aka Blak Randy, who made it into the final showdown round), Limerick's MyNameIsJohn (formerly Johnny dOObs), Jimmy the hideous Penguin, Maroon, DJackulate, Moschops, Rumbus Merrylegs, Mikey Fingers, and Tweek. Most of these same turntable fanatics participated in or attended all of the other weekend's CSG events with DJackulate the following night, delighting the crowed by playing the Irish tin whistle as part of his set.
Conveniently the CSG events all took place within a short distance of one another in the west end of the Bohemian vibe town of Galway at such locations as the Monroe's Tavern, Bell Book & Candle, and the Bierhaus pub where the DJ battle jumped off on Saturday and the DJ/producer showcase (the final event) on Sunday. A two minute walk from the Bierhaus down the narrow Henry Street and round a corner takes you to Monroe's where, in the tavern's back room, Thursday's opening night, experimental session took place. It featured a freestyle session with turntablist Jimmy the hideous Penguin; Dublin experimental turntable artist Fyodor who, with several effects pedals, played off of two turntables (one a wooden turntable for drumming and the other altered sounds & noises); and Ventolyn & Becotyde (Simon Matthews), who played a variety of noise/glitch sounds off keyboards and computer generated sources. The following day, Good Friday, a holiday for most in Ireland, including the pubs, which close on this religious holiday, Dal Kas, Jimmy Penguin, Deviant and others did a lunch hour turntable showcase at a store that was actually open; Uniform Streetwear on Abbeygate St.
Later that same day at Bell Book & Candle (located on an inviting small square & a quick two minute walk from the Bierhaus), turntablists, drummers, emcees, a beatboxer, a bassist, and experimental/noise musicians all set up their gear for a three hour live jam that I hosted and engineered as a live remote WFMU broadcast back to the New Jersey based radio station. The performers included many of the weekend's DJs plus experimental /noise duo Fuaim Bach (Anne Marie Deacy + Gavin Prior), Tony Higgins on electronic drums and laptop, Bitwise & Madek (on full drums + standup bass), emcees Muipead and MC Mimic (aka Jay Red), and talented teen beatboxer Mr L. Like Saturday, Sunday's CSG event took place at the Bierhaus, where performers included Neil Buchanen (aka Paddy & the Heartbreak Kid), Fidel Cutstro, Melodica Deathship, Dal Kas, DJ Teknique, T-Woc, Rubble Diggits, and Manus Goan. Commented organizer Jimmy Penguin of Sunday's event, "I've never seen such a great line up of Irish acts all in the one place. And we even had Sebi C jump on for a few verses over some beats selected by Noid The Droid as a perfect end to a spectacular weekend."
Deviant - winner of Royal Rumble DJ battle @ Community Skratch Games, Galway
Bell Book & Candle live session/WFMU broadcast @ Community Skratch Games
All City Tivoli Jam 2010 by Reznik92
Meanwhile, back in Dublin, where the Irish April weather was also in typically rainy form, Tall Paul Lowe attended all three days of the All City Tivoli Jam. The organizers are the good folks at All City Records, which is a wonderful record & graffiti supply store located in the Temple Bar area of Dublin's city centre. For the Jam they gain access to the spacious walled-in parking lot of the Tivoli Theatre on Francis St. about a half mile from the store. The Jam kicked off Thursday with a black book signing and a party at the Exchange Gallery in Temple Bar, where the following night they screened two graf films, with Irish DJ Cool C setting a really nice vibe, according to Tall Paul Lowe. He also reports that on the next day, Friday, "I knew the guys were painting so I went around to the outdoor Tivoli space to see how it was going. International graff artists invited for the Jam were RIME MSK, Switzerland's SMASH137, Germany's ZEBSTER, who owns & operates On The Run street art supply company, SCOTTY, SHOE (from Denmark's Crime Time Kings crew), SOTEN & TIWS, Norway's MOTEL SEVEN, & all the Irish writers including JOR, KUBE, OMIN, ROLK, and RISE.
Friday was a poxy [Irish slang for crappy/really awful] day and bloody cold here in Dublin specially in the open. By that time the guys had already started throwing up their pieces on the walls. On Saturday (the main day) the Jam was well attended it looked like we had finally gotten the good weather we were all hoping and praying for. By the time I arrived at 2pm the weather was quite good and most of the young participants and their fans had arrived for the B-Boy jam, which was about to start, and it was really great to see so many younger kids taking an interest in b-boying. The two on two b-boy competition went well and the skill level has improved greatly over previous years I thought. The competing b-boy crews included Zombies AZ, Mickey LLCB, Crazy 2BCB, Crazy Guys, Crazy Underground, Bobby & Blitz, Recession Squad, Bonnie n Clyde, Limb Rockers 1.5 Men, Crazy 1 BCB, Heroes Cru, Raw Edge, Flip Flop, and the defending b-boy champs Originally Hated. Most impressive was the 1.5 Men crew, put together by Bon (a legend in Irish b-boying circles) and a student of his who offers great hope for the advancement of b-boying in this country. The little fella was full of tricks and not afraid to display any of them.
But what really surprised me on the day was the amount of girls who are interested in breakin' or b-girlin.' This become most apparent in the Twisted Pepper [after party venue] later that night where the disruptive rainfall that afternoon during the finals of the b-boy competition forced the breakin' battle to be postponed until that evening and it was moved indoors to the Twisted Pepper. The winners of the b-boy competition were Originally Hated, who successfully defended their title from last year. As their prize they win a trip to the big b-boy battle in France later this year. On Saturday afternoon, during the semi final stage of the b-boy battle, an announcement was made that artists RIME and MOTEL SEVEN would spray paint 50 t-shirts for free. The Twisted Pepper was a great venue for the final battle and dancing afterward but the bass was just too much after the b-boy final. In the mezz upstairs DJs Teeko and Mickey were spinning mainly B sides and little known artists.
Despite the unfortunate rain, overall it was a great event and major props to O.B., Savwar, and Cool C and to everyone else for arranging the event, and to the owners of Tivoli for letting the graffiti artists demonstrate their skills on the walls and for providing All City with the space for the 3rd Tivoli All City Jam. Next year's will be even better."
Special thanks to Tall Paul Lowe for his report as well as his b-boy & graf photos (above & below) from the 3rd Annual All City Tivoli Jam. And thanks to Reznik92 for the Tivoli Jam video.