Allies Allstar Beatdown : New York The Roxy

The first Beatdown competition finds Beck's DJ Swampy wreckin' the decks...

About as close as you can get to the Hudson River without being on it or in it, The Roxy is a dope old refurbished warehouse in the Meat Packing District. But by 9 pm, with a line down the block, they’re still taking their time packing them in for the first Allies Allstar Beatdown.

Past the metal detectors and bag check, 1999 DMC US Finalist DJ P keeps the trickling crowd entertained. On one set of the 10 turntables littering the stage, P mixes Pearl Jam and LL Cool J’s ‘Rock The Bells’, and Nirvana and Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin” over electro beats.

Finally, even though not nearly everyone is inside, Infamous – the “DJ pimp” of Miami’s Allies crew, the cats holding this shindig – takes the stage in purple feathers to kick off the competition. The seven-man Allies crew – which also includes three-time DMC World Champion Craze, current US DMC Champion Klever, A-Trak, J-Smoke, Spictakular and Develop – holds 13 world titles between them, so they’ve seen what the scratch circuit has to offer, and decided to offer an alternative.

“There ain’t no disco mixin’ going on in here,” says Infamous, taking a swipe at the DMC (Disco Music Club, now Dance Music Community) competition. But several of the 12 competitors will go up in San Francisco in August against Klever, who is judging from the shadows.

When all is said and done, Dopey from Canada’s Turntable Monks wins the title, cash and swag, though Klever says he’s not worried. He didn’t see any intimidating new techniques. Those were left to the showcases. Phoenix, Arizona’s Radar, flossing in his Gucci cap, uses a footboard digital phrase sampler for his one-man scratch band act. Cali’s Q-Bert spins all the headz off to show why he earned such a fearsome rep.

But it’s Beck‘s DJ Swamp who everyone is afraid of. The man physically juggles records while juggling beats, plays ‘Axel F’ with needle drops on a tone record and then busts out rapping ‘Ring Of Fire’ from his upcoming album ‘Never Is Now’ before setting his fingers on fire, blowing flame and then torching a record.

A-Trak, Klever and Craze also pop off short sets before the club flips on the lights, hinting it’s time to go. The first Allies Allstar Beatdown is a good start to a hopefully annual event that will help reveal the depth of up-and-coming DJ talent whose surface hasn’t even been scratched yet.

Tony Ware