Bastid’s BBQ brings the heat under The Bentway

On the weekend of the 29th and 30th of July, Skratch Bastid brought his Bastid’s BBQ festival to Toronto for the tenth time under one of the city’s most excellent outdoor spaces, The Bentway. ADDICTED was invited to capture some of the quality local and international DJs, rappers and singers in Bastid’s Toronto 2023 lineup.

Bastid’s BBQ began in 2010 when Paul Murphy, aka Skratch Bastid, a turntablist from Bedford, Nova Scotia, had the idea of combining DJ sets with a BBQ and started to reunite some of his DJ friends to build a festival. It has grown significantly over the past ten years and has arrived in different cities in Canada and the United States.

Day 1

Despite the forecast of a rainy day, Bastid’s BBQ enthusiasts couldn’t be shut down. Skratch Bastid, the event’s host, set foot on the Red Bull half-truck half-stage in a white apron and introduced the afternoon opener, Toronto-based Deejay T-Jr, winner of the 2022 Canadian National DMC DJ Championships. Deejay T-Jr enlightened the early crowd with some reggae and afro beats, clearing Toronto’s skies and bringing the sun out for what was yet to come on day one of the festival.

Bastid’s BBQ was not only about good food and good music; dancing was also involved. DJ M4rs got up on stage and set the mood with some old and new hip-hop tunes for Bastid’s BBQ Toronto 2023 Dance Competition, where skilled breakdancers took over the dance floor and battled to become the new champion of the festival.

After the dance competition, the crowd wanted to join the dance party. It was time for the Panamanian and Canadian turntablist and podcaster DJ Grouch to take over the turntable and bring some salsa and Latin music to the dance floor, which soon became filled with couples dancing to the mixed rhythm of La Murga by Willie Colón and Héctor Lavoe. After a half-an-hour set, Toronto DJ, producer and rapper Mathematik joined the Grouch for another half an hour.

DJ IKU, one of Japan’s most recognized DJs, was one of the highlights of Bastid’s BBQ lineup. DJ IKU scratched and spun the turntable for an hour with some top 40 and fan favourites, with transitions that made the audience and host dance and laugh.

In the next hour, it was DJ Syrehn’s turn to set the mood for the crowd coming from the San Francisco Bay Area to join Bastid’s BBQ and bring a thrilling mashup that covered a wide range of music genres, from dancehall, like Move Ya Body by Nina Sky, to some alternative rock like Come as You Are by Nirvana.

At 7 p.m., under The Bentway’s roof, one of Toronto’s favourite DJs emerged on the Red Bull truck stage; it was time for The Kount to fill the vibes with his funky mixes and original tunes, using not only the turntable but also a drum emulator. DJ Kount brought with him some local special guests. First, he got Noam, a local guitarist and singer with whom The Kount played their single Right Here, on stage. Next came Juno Award winner TOBI, who gave the audience a taste of his upcoming song, Pale Blue Dot. And the last guests on the Kount’s list were Big Tona and Jimmi Yitty, both from Scarborough, who sang their new collaboration EST.

After half a day of hosting, cheering and walking around The Bentway, interacting with the fans, it was time for Skratch Bastid to take over the stage, where he performed a unique set combining original pieces of hip-hop, ’80s pop and dancehall, with creative transitions elevating the energy of the crowd, who couldn’t stop dancing at Bastid’s spinning and scratching.

When the sun started to shower The Bentway with the golden-hour light, a legend in the turntable world appeared on stage: hip-hop and DJ producer from New Jersey, Just Blaze. Justin Gregory Smith, aka Just Blaze, played some of his original productions, including collaborations with rapper Jay Z and other good 2000s classics. At the same time, his fellow DJs and hosts gathered around to witness Just Blaze master the turntable.

After some 2000s nostalgia, it was time for one of the most anticipated performances of the event, Pharoahe Monch. Coming from Queens, New York, Pharoahe Monch performed at Bastid’s BBQ, opening his set with No Mercy from his solo debut album Internal Affairs. This was followed by other classics, including one of his most popular singles, Simon Says. Even those unfamiliar with the rapper’s songs could follow this song, thanks to its simplicity and repetitive verses. Pharoahe Monch jumped and sang with the crowd for his set, exciting and preparing them for the last performer of day one of Bastid’s BBQ, DJ Nu-Mark.

Starting the set with The Empire Strikes Back theme from the Star Wars franchise, DJ Nu-Mark took over the closing of Bastid’s BBQ on day one. Mark Potsic, professionally known as DJ Nu-Mark, came from Los Angeles, California, with a diverse set that included movie soundtracks, some Michael Jackson songs and some 2000s favourites such as Hot in Herre by Nelly, a song that Bastid danced to onstage, swinging his BBQ apron in the air.

Day 2

After day one’s success, it was time for day two to begin with some old reggae, blues, and soul beat with Choppa Chop, who, instead of using a laptop to set the tracks, stuck to vinyl, welcoming the firstcomers of the second day of the festival.

For the second round of Bastid’s BBQ dance competition, Toronto native DJ, dancer and choreographer Fly Ladi Di set the music for the dancers to battle on the dance floor.

After a stunning performance from the dancers, Bastid’s BBQ was getting ready for more dancing on the stage with Toronto DJ Big Jacks and Angela Apigo, who delivered a set that included their recent collaboration, Creeping, performed with background dancers.

Once again, Scratch Bastid climbed the Red Bull stage and performed a new set that included some original tracks from his latest productions and went through different top 40 classics and trending songs, setting the mood for the next guest, Myst Milano.

Toronto-based rapper and DJ Myst Milano, currently on their Summer 2023 tour, stopped at The Bentway in Toronto to perform at Bastid’s BBQ. Milano took over the stage for half an hour to perform their most recent single, Pressure, and songs from their two albums, Shapeshifter and No Shade. Thanks to their stunning stage presence, Milano entertained the crowd, jumping and dancing from one side of the stage to the other and, sometimes, leaving the microphone aside to present their contagious dance moves and vogueing.

By mid-afternoon, producer Kiinjo, formerly known as Grandtheft, set his turntable on Bastid’s BBQ after getting married the previous night. Even though the beginning of the set stumbled with technical difficulties, Kiinjo overcame them and filled the afternoon with his first set of only original productions.

At 7 p.m., funk finally arrived at Bastid’s BBQ with DJ and producer Dām Funk of Pasadena, California, starting his one-hour set by playing the keytar and adding some freestyle lyrics to the rhythm of funk. Dām Funk also invited Sacha Williamson, a soul, jazz and R&B vocalist from Toronto and educator at York University, to the stage.

After the funky tunes, Bastid’s BBQ fans still hadn’t had enough of their host, Skratch Bastid, so he jumped one last time onto the stage to perform in front of a diverse audience from different cities in Canada and the United States that came to support Bastid’s musical concept that focuses mainly on DJ sets accompanied by a few mic performers and, of course, unique flavours of BBQ.
Bastid’s BBQ is recommended for local music lovers, DJ mixes and mashups. If you missed it this year, stop by next year for nice summer vibes.