There are DJs, and then there are DJs, and then there's DJ QBert.
Sources say QBert grew up in San Francisco, born with the name Richard Quitevis, graduating in 1987 from Balboa High. Those sources are wrong: DJ QBert is from another galaxy, sent here by shapeshifting overlords of extraterrestrial intellect to reimagine the trajectory of the turntable as an instrument for those on planet Earth.
It sometimes feels that way, doesn't it? With his Invisibl Skratch Piklz crew, QBert pioneered the presentation of a turntable "band," with fellow cohorts Mix Master Mike and Shortkut cutting drum sounds and other layers in synchronized arrangements akin to classical-music charts. With Wave Twisters, QBert composed not only the greatest scratch album of all time, he synced each individual sound on the longform composition to an animated feature that became an instant cult classic. He's developed more scratch techniques than anyone can keep track of, he's designed his own mixer, slipmat and cartridge, he hosts the Online Skratch University, and he's never run out of ways to make that evergreen sample, "FFFREEEEEEESSSSHHH," sound brand-new.
DJ QBert doesn't headline much in the Bay Area these days—he was last seen onstage with El-P and Killer Mike at Outside Lands last year, sitting in on a song—which makes tonight's show at the New Parish all the more enticing. And his innovation hasn't slowed one bit: two new albums, Extraterrestria and GalaXXXian, prove that he's still light years ahead of the rest, both musically and aesthetically. In a move that should easily win a Grammy Award for Best Limited Edition Package, the gatefold vinyl version of Extraterrestria combines Algoriddim’s DJay app and Novalia’s touch technology to double as a playable DJ setup.
For those who can't make the Jan. 29 Oakland show, DJ QBert also plays Friday, Jan. 30 at 755 After Dark in Sebastopol. After that, there's no telling where he'll turn up next—but it might not be on this planet.