Published Sep 16, 2018Michael Schwartz, aka Mix Master Mike, knows his way around a turntable. Best known as the DJ for the Beastie Boys from Hello Nasty onward, he actually spent most of the '90s winning DMC World DJ Championships alongside DJ Qbert, with whom he would form the revolutionary turntablist outfit Invisibl Skratch Piklz (see the 2001 documentary Scratch).
The nature of DJing has changed significantly since the old days. Other than Kid Koala, hardly anyone scratches with actual vinyl now. Instead, sets tend to be based around CDJs and MIDI controllers triggering software like Serato DJ Pro or Ableton Live, and Mix Master Mike has kept up with the times.
Starting 15 minutes early to give his fans the most bang for their buck, Mix Master Mike dropped a set that would shame most Red Bull Music 3Style World DJ Championship winners. Granted, digital scratching doesn't carry quite the same risk as vinyl, as anyone who has tried to put a needle on a record freehand can attest, but he flexed his party rockin' muscles, following through on his promise to "play this motherfucker like an instrument."
His fingers were still magic to watch as he teased out a history of scratching gestures and cross fader twitches, and he tossed in a few of the classic showboating moves, spinning in a circle and crossing his arms while beat-juggling and occasionally angling his gear so people could see him toy with cue points and tweak sounds.
And Holy Hannah, did Mike bring the bass. The low frequency onslaught was so intense, it felt like wandering onto Shambhala's Pagoda stage at peak time. Throughout the hour-long set, he mixed in pretty much every kind of music, from Drowning Pool and Drake to Paul Simon and Aretha Franklin; nothing overstayed its welcome, yet Mike gave enough time to each to avoid that ADD feeling. Cypress Hill clearly made a good call in bringing him onboard to tour their 2018 album, Elephant on Acid.