Southern Rock Opera

SXSW 02 Music Fest Wrap-up

Prefuse 73

La Zona Rosa, Saturday 16 The unwritten rule of party fouls is never bump the turntable, but when Prefuse 73 is re-creating unorthodox renditions of cut hip-hop, snippets, snaps, and skips become elements of his compositions. Making it look simple, DJ Herren moved back from board to board, trying to get the audience to understand this mangled language by releasing thick moods of lifeless lifelines and then allowing the beat to crack into pulses that recharged the still crowd with funky presence. Defying the two-turntables-and-a-mike theory of hip-hop, he shattered all musical structures. He ripped up conversations, funk vinyl, and MC lyrics, and when he put it all together, it made sense. It was incoherent and un-understandable breaks that forced the crowd to read between the lines and remember that genres are just classifications. You could wait for the lengthy sessions of whimsical ambience that had some charmed into calm moments, or you could celebrate him throwing it all away at the end, when the beat collapsed into notes designed to get heads and bodies bouncing. The whole set seemed to be a production interlude intended to make a similar statement of experimentation. At first, most were disappointed that Herren just played tracks from the album, only to realize that he was doing it live. Prefuse 73 is a concept album, not an alter ego. No use showing people anything new, until you show them how it was done.

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