Po Na Na, Oxford
6th February 2003
I first saw The Scratch Perverts a few years ago, but I didn’t expect them to be the same this time; at their peak an 8-strong collective, they are now slimmed down to a trio of Tony Vegas, Prime Cuts and Plus One, and their unique brand of turntablism has evolved to match. At Po Na Na, on 4 decks and 2 mixers, Perverts founder Tony Vegas – sporting a fishing hat – and Plus One, both fresh from a tour of Australia and Hong Kong, displayed fingerwork so swift their hands blurred in the light.
Missy Elliot’s Work It kicked off a section of rap and hiphop (including the likes of Punjabi MC, Adam F, Cypress Hill, Run DMC, P Diddy, Beastie Boys, Justin Timberlake, DJ Shadow…) Completely destroying the beginning of The Next Episode, to the crowd’s delight, they seamlessly mixed tempos and styles with each other; the set travelled through soul and funk, ending up with breakbeats and an all-out drum and bass fest. They scratched with (justifiable) near arrogance but with an innate instinct for rhythm; being there was more an complete experience than a being present at a display. The set was expertly choreographed, though they seemed to work with each other so harmoniously that you would not have known if it were pre-prepared or improvised.
Their varying line up proves how they are constantly evolving and keeping their skills fresh and sets up to date. As former DMC World Champions, solo and together, they are experienced turntable battlers but still versatile enough to rock a crowd so much they rose as one to the beat on occasion. The crowd got crazier as the tempo increased; they really suited the type of venue, which let them perform very close to the crowd (if not underneath them) and helped them give the night a distinct atmosphere.
Photo: © Richard Whitelock