Z-Trip Demos DJ Hero in Las Vegas, Honors DJ AM at Friday Night Residency Debut
View more photos in the "Z-Trip in Vegas: DJ Hero Battle" slideshow.
Thursday, October 15, 6:50 p.m. Landed in Vegas, am on way to Palms Hotel from airport. In a half hour, the DJ Hero battle will begin: West Coast Sound vs. Z-Trip. Focus. I've had ten years to learn Technics technique. Countless hours in front of the decks, matching beats, absorbing breaks, tweaking pitch, all leading up to this moment.
7:18 p.m.: Arrive at Z-Trip's room. The highly anticipated DJ Hero game is released to the public on October 27, but DJ Z-Trip has made tracks for it, so was able to score an advance, and an X-Box, which are set up in a hotel room.
Z-Trip's practicing a set in an adjoining room. The following night, he will debut his weekly Friday residency at Rain, a Vegas mega-dance club. It's a bittersweet entry: It's one of the most high-profile DJ club gigs in the country -- Paul Oakenfold holds court every Saturday night at Rain -- but he will be assuming a residency that, tragically, became open after DJ AM died in September.
7:24 p.m. Double beds, big flatscreen, X-Box sitting on the desk, next to it, two little toy turntables about the size of science text books. The round record platter has three buttons on it: green, red, blue, and next to it, a crossfader like you'd find on your everyday mixer. Pretty basic set up. Z-Trip is still next door practicing on his "real" turntables for the "real" gig tomorrow night. He's psyching me out right now, making me wait.
7:26 p.m.: Z-Trip -- real name: Zach Sciacca -- arrives. He looks vaguely superstarish, with the confident air of someone who gets flown to Las Vegas to perform -- like Frank Sinatra, Elvis or Celine Dion. We shake hands. He's not so tough. I will smush him like a bug.
The contestants: West Coast Sound's largest-ever crowd performance was about 700, at a warehouse party in the St. Louis (Big Pink Brains, people!). Specialty: minimal German and Detroit techno, microhouse, Chicago house.
Z-Trip's resume is long: too many massives to mention. Creator, along with DJ P, of the influential Uneasy Listening mixtape (which begins with a beautifully deranged version of Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy," reworked as "Rhinestone B-Boy"). His decade-long ascension has been gradual and deliberate. He's done Coachella, has toured the world. He once DJed Bonnaroo -- between sets by Phil Lesh and Phish. (That takes balls.) He not only knows how to get the party started, he knows how to sustain it, push it, bring it to a sample/mash-up/chaotically organized fever pitch.
7:29 p.m.: Z-Trip shows me a little scab on his finger. "I cut my finger making a salad the other day." So what? No excuses.