LEVELHEADED is pleased to present the online US tour diary of DJ
Vadim's Russian Percussion Crew. Check this page every
week during the entirety of the US tour for a new entry.
03.13.03 - 03.19.03
This is the tour Diary of Vadim, Yarah Bravo, First Rate &
Location: USA and Canada now!
Welcome to the 5th installment of our weekly diary during our North
American tour. This week is perhaps the most bizarre week
of the tour. We have the most incredible shows, we have the most
incredible vibes, we buy amazing records and even have time
for a nice Indian curry...
And also the biggest low of the tour... The war began and we heard
about Rachel Corrie...
Thursday, March, 13th - San Diego, CA
We reluctantly departed beautiful warm Phoenix sunshine and drove
into the desert towards San Diego through some spectacular dunes,
cactus country and some very peculiar valleys covered in huge rocks...
We saw the Mexican border and were very tempted to go across to
see life there - well First rate wanted to check the girls and booze
out actually! Anyway we got to San Diego and we rocked it for the
4th time. Real cool city. Our opening act were very amusing . They
played a live set in which they totally destroyed computers on stage
in some bizarre San Diego ritual of self computerization music concrete
stylee... very funny.
Friday, March, 14th - Los Angeles, CA
‘L.A L.A - Big city of dreams , everything in L.A ain’t always
what it seems...
We were all looking forward to coming here. I’ve played here about
6 times before. But never really had a chance to check out the city,
except for a little jaunt up on Melrose. The rest of the crew had
never been here and were extremely excited to see the stars in the
pavement up on Hollywood blvd and the hand prints outside Mann’s
Chinese theatre. Well actually Yarah was more interested in meeting
Freestyle Fellowship’ than anything else. Yarah and Firsrate
had a stroll down Hollywood Blvd took some photos, checked Jimi
Hendrix’s star, Aretha Franklin etc...They reckon they saw Elvis
and Marilyn Monroe...?? yeah yeah.. We were hoping Al Pacino and
Robert Deniro were gonna come down to our show but they obviously
had better things to do...
We played at a club called The Temple Bar in Santa Monica. They
have had a lot of very talented artists play in this venue before,
like Blackalicious, J5, Yuseef Lateef, Antibalis, Fred Wesley, Cody
Chesnut, QuestLove and even some beatboxing tapdancing local hero!
SO we were all a little over awed by the company we were in especially
when people started to come in and we met film producers, that producer
this producer....etc...people from Black Eyed Peas came down, and
wall to wall mc’s...I guess that's LA - everybody is somebody. Even
the waitress was one of the singers for Blackalicious and the door
security guy was a reggae producer and an actor...Dj Nobody was
spinning before us, and he had some Friends’ with him also. Well
after all the nerves we had before the show, especially Yarah since
she always wanted to rock a show in LA and Frisco cause her favorite
MC’s are from here... the show actually went AMAZING, it was off
the hook, Great response and standing ovation at the end and a sold
out capacity crowd. with a huge queue of people standing outside
waiting to get in .. The best show i have ever done in LA and in
USA for that matter. After the show we got our drink on, Yarah
and First rate were hitting the cocktails, and at the end of the
night they were partying like crazy, the atmosphere was off
the hook. First rate was trying to get it on with the waitresses,
but with no luck...We chilled out with our good friend Rakaa from
And we finished the night with celebrating by having a potato knish
at 4 am from a local deli! We are still on a high from
Saturday, March, 15th - San Francisco, CA (Bay area baby!)
After some amazing weather we were greeted by horrendous rain storm
in the morning of LA - what the fuck. Its not supposed to rain here!
Only in London right? Well Rakaa Iriscience came over to the hotel
and we chilled a bit. We are always bumping into each other at funny
places around the world like airports, motorway services....so it
was good to have a second in a more normal place like the Motel
We were all still amped by the LA show so by the time we arrived
in Frisco it was quite late and we had to rush our soundcheck cause
they had already opened the doors.... We were all a little skeptical
about the show cause they didn’t seem to have done much promotion
- no flyers, posters etc so we were expecting it to be a wack turnout.
And to be honest we didn’t think it could be as good as Los Angeles
anyway. But word of mouth is sometimes a miracle, and to our amazement
we packed the place once again with over 400 people going bananas
and a long queue of people waiting to get in, and they all made
more noise than LA - impossible?? we thought so, but they
were even better. Wow - it must be something in the air in Cali
(apart from smog!)
J boogie opened for us with his dubtronic science orchestra which
was ‘hella’ cool too. Yarah kept talking about this MC and that
MC who were at the show, but to be honest I didn’t know who half
of them were. But then Yarah is a bay area hiphop freak. We
chilled with Dj Anna who’s a super cool lady, and just had a great
San Francisco vibe.
First Rate tried to get it on with the sound girl, he did manage
to score a kiss.
After our show we were on a sweet high, and we wanted to
party some more. We tried to go to another party - ‘Uprising’ near
Cesar Chavez/17th street area but the bouncer was a real nasty asshole
and refused us entry even tho' we were all on Rasta Q tip’s and
j boogies guest list. So please boycott them.
Sunday, March, 16th - San Francisco, CA
Off day / Travel day
The weather was great and we started our day with some delicious
Spanish omelet. Then we went down to Haight street where all the
good shops are - Amoebas/ groove merchant/ ...plus endless funky
clothes shops and shoe shops... We were all really excited, And
Yarah was telling us all about her crazy experiences when
she was out in the Bay area 3 years ago with her crew B-o-B.
Gez went to Harputts (Famous Shoe store) on filmore and went buckwild
over the old school Adidas. The people in the store realized Gez
was such a freak and decided to let him see the secret backroom
for collectors only, he was drooling all over the place. Even tight
wad Firstrate (who the previous day refused to buy a book for $1
cause he thought that was too expensive!) bought a pair of wicked
shell toes with which he proceeded to spill all his Wendy’s take
away salad over.
Me and Yarah went crazy in Ameoba Records which is the dopest largest
independent record store on the west-coast. With hard to find records
and out-of-print records. And we bought loads of goodies. In Ameobas
we also met OD (producer of freestyle fellowship) and (mc) Busdriver.
Who are both wicked.
To celebrate a great weekend we all went for a an Indian curry.
You see in England, Curry sundays are almost religious, and it was
a sunday, and man we wanted to celebrate everything... We found
a great spot on haight st and ate ourselves to the point of exploding!
We were suppose to leave San Francisco at 4 pm but we were having
so much fun so we didn’t leave untill 8:30 pm. But that was
cool cause we didn’t have a show in the evening. Though we had to
drive till very very late...
Monday, March, 17th - Portland, OR
I was woken up this morning by my dad ringing me at 5 am (1pm London
time) saying that the bailiffs from the UK tax office (inland revenue)
were at my house right then and wanted to impound my possessions
for not paying a supposed tax bill.... well that woke me up!!! Its
a bit difficult sorting stuff out like this in the middle of the
night a continent apart and there is no way anyone is going to start
removing our studio or sofa...great wake up call hey!!
We solved the problem a couple of hours later, when they admitted
they had made a mistake. Geez, they almost gave me a heart attack.
Portland is the Spot for finding records - djangos and some other
sneaky peaky spots are really good. I have bought so much
stuff from here in the past so i was looking forward to coming here
for the 4/5th time... And Yes I did buy more records plus a lot
of Noam Chomsky books, and the Miles Davis Biography which I was
reading in the beginning of the tour, but it got lost some where
along the way.
The tension is growing, Big Brother Bush Monkey made a speech announcing
that he will attack Iraq within hours. It made us sick to the stomach.
All the marching, all the protesting against the war, useless??
Are we all just being ignored?? How can the government of the UK
and US go to war without the majority of its citizens supporting
and backing it?
We really did not feel like doing the show in Portland that evening,
we had a lot of things on our mind. But we did the show anyway of
course, and it did us good, the response was beautiful. And we met
some really nice people.
Though some idiot through a beer-can at Firstrate when he was doing
a Dj routine at the end of the night. And someone stole Yarah’s
trucker cap which she was given in New York by a fan...so that sucked
also! And some drunk bird (‘Round here we call them birds not bitches’
the streets!!!) spilled a drink all over the merchandise table while
screaming ‘sign my tits’...what’s up with some people...hey...
Tuesday, March, 18th - Seattle, WA
Before driving to Seattle we got some breakfast at ‘Whole Foods’,
that’s the best supermarket we have found out here. All organic,
and the choice of food is great. Salads, sushi, lentil soups etc...
I wish we had that in London where we live!
Gez wanted to visit the Adidas original store (as if he didn’t
have enough shoes already) cause there’s only 2 like this one in
the world, one in Nuremberg /Germany and one in Portland/US. But
we got the the wrong directions and ended up at the Nike Outlet
store, which we piss all over. And unfortunately we did not
have enough time to look for the real spot, so we got on the road
to Seattle. And Gez shed a tear...
The Seattle show was probably the strangest and most emotional
show we have ever done. Before the show Dj Vital (the opening
DJ) came backstage and he told us a very touching and hurting
story. He told us about his good friend Rachel Corrie. She was an
American citizen who was murdered 2 days previously after being
run over by an bulldozer while she was trying to stop it from tearing
down a building in Rafah, Palestine. The Bulldozer ignored her outcry
and ran over her - twice. She was protesting against the occupation,
the inhuman, insulting, humiliating and degrading conditions put
on the Palestinians.
While Dj Vital was telling us this story he was crying, it was
a very emotional moment and we started crying as well. He told us
that Rachel Corrie was a big Ninja Tune fan, and a big fan of my
music, and if she would’ve been there tonight she would’ve stood
at the front dancing. This was very real!
At the back of the club all her friends had made a shrine
laid out to her with letters, flowers , photo’s.... And it almost
felt like we were about to do a show for a funeral audience, since
everyone in that room seemed to know her. We started the show with
a minute of silence and Yarah said a few words. Later in the show
Yarah invited Dj Vital on stage to share a few words with the audience.
He spoke a painful heartfelt message and at the end of the show
there was a lot of people very emotional and tearful. We dedicated
the show and the rest of our tour to Rachel Corrie and all other
Freedom Fighters’ who are no longer with us. And the show ended
up being a celebration of her life and what she stood for. If you
would like to read her story check out http://www.michaelmoore.com/
Wednesday, March, 19th - Victoria, Canada
The war started 5 pm Pacific time. We all had a very bad feeling.
‘It has begun’. We were at least glad that we were going to Canada.
The promoter from Seattle and Victoria had also got us unduly worried
about the border crossing from USA to Canada. On TV they were saying
that the border checks and crossings all across USA were more stringent,
longer cues etc but we managed to go through smoothly, don’t ask
us how? We still arrived too late at our ferry crossing so
we had to wait there 3 hours for the next ferry but we finally arrived
in Victoria, very late. We did a quick soundcheck, and
then we went next door to a really nice restaurant for some food.
The service was so so slow, and we were starving. When the food
finally arrived it was time to go on stage. We took the food in
a doggie bag...and stepped on stage. The crowd was wicked, the show
went great and the people showed us much love. We were all
happy that the first Canadian show went down like this... and we
slept like babies...
Continuing our mission
— Vadim , Yarah, First Rate and Gez....