Highlights from Skratch Bastid's second annual BBQ
On Saturday evening, Skratch Bastid — real name Paul Murphy — hosted his annual summer BBQ at the Steam Whistle Brewery. For the Nova Scotia native, Saturday marked his second BBQ in Toronto and eighth overall — in the past, Murphy has hosted similar events in his hometown of Halifax and Melbourne, Australia. Despite the constant threat of rain, a significant crowd braved the indecisive weather, and enjoyed an eclectic mix of music and food. Here are highlights from three acts: Skratch Bastid, Big Toe's Hifi, and BBNG.
Big Toe HiFiOne of the more original acts featured on Saturday was also a last minute addition. Big Toe's HiFi, the deejaying alias of John Farrugia, an Edinburgh-based but Ontario raised conceptual artist and sound-system enthusiast, played a mix of dub, dancehall, and reggae. I spoke to Farrugia after his set, and found out that beyond his work with Big Toe's Hifi, he also teaches sculpture at the Edinburgh College of Art — in addition, Farrugia maintains a studio on a farm outside of Alliston, Ontario where he works on his art during the summer months. Farrugia's multi-disciplinary background informs his unusual song selection, and unlike the rest of the DJs at Skartch's BBQ, Farrugia relied exclusively on original dub plates; these two factors created a set that stood out, even on a night filled with several world-class DJs.
Skratch BastidOf course, the main highlight, and the performer most came to see, was the host himself. Murphy's initial forty-five minute set saw the three time Scribble Jam winner show off his DJ battle winning skills. That said, I think that what makes Skratch Bastid a successful and popular DJ is not so much his party rocking skills, though that's obviously a part of his success. Instead, I think Murphy's success as a DJ emanates from his charismatic stage presence. Unlike some of his peers that use Serato to deejay, Murphy never uses the program's visual cues to mix two songs together. Instead, he relies on his ear, and, as a result, Murphy spends most of his set wildly smiling and gesturing at the audience. In fact, he does both with such enthusiasm that it becomes hard not to become caught up in the moment, even if Murphy's working through what are, admittedly, highly polished sets.
BBNGAfter Skratch Bastid's set, it was local up-and-coming band BadBadNotGood's turn to take over Steam Whistle's small back patio stage. I've seen the band perform multiple times in the past, but this was on the smallest and most intimate stage they've been on in my experience. The group played a cross-section of their original songs and covers, with highlights coming from their reinterpretations of Waka Flocka's "Hard in Da Paint" and Feist's "Limit to Your Love." In particular, the band's cover of "Limit to Your Love" was beautiful, with Matthew Tavares messaging the song's signature melody to perfection. Given the band's current trajectory, I imagine opportunities like this are going to become few and far between.
Additional photos in the form of an impromptu portrait series
WRISTPECTBBNGLucie TicBig Toe's HiFiTom Wrecks and DJ Drastik
Last but not least, and most importantly, DJ Doggy Style
Photos by Dylan Leeder