Deltron 3030: A hip-hop odyssey

Deltron 3030

When: Tuesday

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Where: Alix Goolden Performance Hall

Rating: 4.5 (out of five)

On paper, the inaugural Victoria performance by Deltron 3030 already had the makings of something special.

The cultish crew rarely tours, and when they do make it out on the road, visits to Canada aren’t always on their agenda. Point scored for Victoria, which snagged the group Tuesday night during its first North American tour in 13 years, and one of only a few dozen shows to date for the band.

Throw into the mix yet more intangibles — a new Deltron 3030 record, Event 2, to promote; a sold-out crowd; the pitch-perfect setting of the Alix Goolden Performance Hall — and you’re on the way to a can’t-miss concert.

Deltron 3030 had no problem making good on the promise.

It was hard not to be utterly astounded by the sword-sharp execution put forth by Deltron 3030’s all-star squad.

Group founders Kid Koala, Del the Funky Homosapien, and Dan the Automator were intergalactically awesome, leading a three-piece backing band though concept songs about life centuries down the road, in a place where there is no roads.

Heady stuff, indeed. But the group got through what could have been a tricky situation with a cohesion befitting an equal-share collaboration.

Kid Koala, a Vancouver native, got bodies in motion early with a solo set of shock-and-awe sonics. Playing on three turntables, the scratch DJ ran his setup like it was short-attention-span theatre. Bits from DJ Shadow, Beastie Boys, Daft Punk, Louis Armstrong, the Cure, OutKast and scores more made their way into his hour-long hootenanny.

He even managed to play the full version of Audrey Hepburn’s version of Moon River and make it sound like it was born to be a scratch routine.

He was in all-world form. But Koala — who wore no headphones, eschewed using a laptop, and spun only vinyl — also made a good case for the underdog on this night, at least where a longstanding argument is concerned.

Indeed, his was a show for those who claim DJs and MCs aren’t musicians, or possess no skill other than the ability to piggyback others (believe me, this thinking still exists within a certain segment of the population, despite nearly 40 years of evidence to the contrary).

This was music on a higher level than most, by creators who operate as if boundaries don’t exist. If you couldn’t see the musicality on a night like this, there is a world out there you should think about visiting.

Del had a slow start, and his flow — which is purposefully off the beat — is a unique instrument prone to going out of tune on occasion. Koala — a beast, flat out — more than picked up the slack, and Automator (who handled samples and drum machines) was the good-natured go-between.

The sum was as good as its parts on this night. There are but a few uncharted directions in which a hip-hop group can travel, given the core elements of the art form. Deltron 3030 found a hole in the Matrix and pushed the limits of sound on Tuesday, careful to keep the one foot of the end result rooted in the past.

The other? It was dipped into an ocean of experimentation.

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