San Francisco Airport Transforms into Hip-Hop Concert

The New York Times reported on Dec. 9 that San Francisco International Airport is transforming into an impromptu hip-hop concert venue during this holiday season.

“Although the airport has an extensive program of art exhibitions — it’s the only airport in the country with an accredited museum — and presents live music during the winter holiday and summer seasons, last Friday night featured something special: a free performance by DJ Qbert, the legendary hip-hop artist and turntable master,” wrote the NY Times.

Qbert (Richard Quitevis) is the San Francisco native and DJ who turned the airport’s mezzanine level of the grand lobby of the new Terminal 2 as his stage, according to the NY Times. DJ Qbert was dressed in a blue plaid shirt with jeans and a bright red Giants cap.

“[Qbert] played his signature free-form scratch over funk, hip-hop and other beats on two STR8-150 turntables with people watching behind him and in the vast hall down below,” wrote the New York Times.

“Normally I’m ready to get out of here,” said businessman Mark Braun who had just flown in from Florida, but instead he stayed to watch.

It was “a groundbreaking event,” Nicole Mullen, the associate curator of exhibitions, told the New York Times. She also estimated the crowd to be around 250 to 300 people.

“[It was] as if everyone at the club just went to the airport,” DJ Obert told the NY Times. At one point there was even a crew of breakdancers who started dancing along to Obert’s beats. When the newspaper asked if they were also a part of the act, Obert responded with, “Not at all. Lucky for them, the floor in the airport is always smooth,” he added.

Most of the crowd had actually shown up for Qbert’s performance, according to the Times, although there were a lot of passersby who stayed to watch.

“He’s the best DJ in the world,” Qbert fan Allen Pagtakhan told the Times after hearing of the concert via Twitter. He came immediately after getting off of work: “So of course you have to show up,” he said.

“He’s a Bay Area cultural icon,” Jon Cook, a member of the San Francisco Punjabi-funk band BlackMahal, added. “He’s like a magician doing magic tricks.”

DJ Qbert’s performance was in conjunction to an exhibit on the history of vinyl called “Revolutions per Minute: The Evolution of the Record” currently on display in the San Francisco International Airport’s Terminal 2. It includes a white mixer-turntable-crossfader combo that was designed by Qbert.

Although visitors need a plane ticket to view that particular exhibit, there are about one-third of the exhibitions that are accessible to non-ticketed visitors.

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