DJ Phinesse | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

DJ Phinesse

All Records Not Crated Equal



Only one crate accompanies DJ Phinesse to his gig. Normally, a deejay is gonna carry at least five crates with him, with an emergency crate in the car outside. Yet here, one lonely, hazard-orange crate sits on a table. Its only function is to carry a PC monitor on its back. It has no other purpose.



Phinesse won't be pullin' from any crates on this night, however, nor any other night. The only pullin' he'll have to do is from the playlist on his monitor screen. And while he can still scratch, blend and fade, there are only two records in his possession that will remain on the tables for the rest of the night.


It's Final Scratch, bitches. And before those who worship at the church of vinyl start hatin', please appreciate that Phinesse has been doing this since '87, when he copped Gemini 1100's as a young'n in Philly. He's carried his weight in crates, literally, for years -- been there, done that, and still got the sweaty T-shirts to prove. Now, he's got thousands of songs in his catalogue and the only sweat he breaks is from the standard venue's faulty fan systems.


"The deejay used to be the last dude out the club," says Phinesse as he plugs up his computer. "If the club closes at 2 [a.m.] there would be times I didn't leave until like 3. If you wanna eat, everything in Pittsburgh is closed by that hour, except the O, so your choices to eat are limited if you're a deejay."


Yes, deejays have to eat, too. Deejays wanna go parking-lot-pimpin' at the let-out, too. Deejays wanna get out just as quick as you when someone starts buckin' in the club. So, for a moment let's consider this new evolution in deejaying -- this crate-less deejaying.


Situated between two Technics 1200s is a small, deep silver box. Its wires reach around to Phinesse's laptop. Two encoded vinyl records are on the tables, both of which take signals from the records on the computer. In turn, the computer knows the exact position of the needle on these records, enabling Phinesse to do all the tricks he would be doing with wax.


On his laptop he cursors to his first song of the night, Juelz Santana's "Golddigger" parody, called "Fat Bitch". What looks like a heart monitor runs across the top left and right corners of the screen, each corresponding to a table. When "Fat Bitch" comes on the left turntable, a series of yellow smudges run across the left monitor to show noise activity.


Finding songs on the program is easy enough, too. Mostly it's click and drag, but as an alternative he can go to the box that says "enter text" and type in a keyword from a song or artist title to search. Here, the deejay is no longer a selecta, but a Google-a.


At the end of the night, Phinesse rescues the orange crate from its subordinate labor, giving it a new purpose: It's where Phinesse stores his wires and plugs from the computer. c


DJ Phinesse spins every Tuesday at the Pittsburgh Deli Company from 10 p.m. to close. For more information visit

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