You ever seen that episode of Cheers where everyone but Diane is upset because they think their beloved hangout is going to turn gay? Norm complains that if gay gentlemen start to frequent Cheers then there will be ferns everywhere, which in the early eighties meant that you liked buttsex, apparently. The entire crowd starts trying to figure out who the gay guys in the bar are using your standard witch-hunt logic, a la John Carpenter’s The Thing and as it turns out, it was these guys you never expected. It’s kind of hard to watch, and wouldn’t be allowed to get past standards and practices these days. Anyway, that’s what’s happening to bars but with DJs. You know that bar you liked hanging out in for the past few years? Well, now at seven o’clock a guy in a fedora and fingerless gloves comes in, hooks up a contraption that looks like a Simon to the sound system, shotguns a Monster Energy Drink and “gets turnt up” or “goes hard” or whatever at 115 decibels. He brings in 16 more people so the owner of the bar approves.
I’ve been a DJ for eleven years. It’s a fun job that you get to drink at and meet pretty girls and listen to songs you like real loud. At the end of the night you get some money and get in a taxi and maybe even go to somebody’s illegal party where there are people on drugs who you ignore, but the music is good. DJing is a sweet gig, only matched by writing for a dick joke football blog that occasionally gets you called out as a racist for not liking pho. If you can deal with sporadic drunk people requesting inappropriate songs (I have a good story of a 19 year old girl requesting Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason”) then DJing is an enjoyable hobby/job unless of course you have to have to actually deal with DJs.
DJs fall into three categories, which will be outlined here:
1. The superstar, Vegas DJ.
Paid 100k a gig to play the Beatport top 100, which is all just the same song, as proved by these cheeky Swedes who mashed them all together in the worst 54 seconds in music since anything after the saxophone part to “Baker Street”:
Even when they’re self aware, like Canadian computer programmer turned Kat Von D cheater-on Deadmaufive, and you troll an entire festival of bros by playing “Old MacDonald Had A Farm” you’re still a dingus with a neck tattoo that has a Nyan Cat Lamborghini. Seriously, the one guy who is calling out how ridiculous it is that you’re paying a hundred dollars to hear him play what is often a pre-recorded track set to trigger a light show, is a massive dipshit.
The worst part is, after these shows there are inevitably fans that complain that the DJ didn’t play their favorite song when they can just LISTEN TO THAT SONG ON THEIR IPOD ON THE WAY BACK FROM THE GIG. It’s a recording of a song. It’s not like you missed out on seeing them create it in front of you. Unless you’re seeing DJ Diva, (THE FIRST AND STILL THE BEST TOPLESS DJ), try and not spend over a hundred dollars to see some touring DJ play the same songs the last touring DJ played the weekend before.
This EDM thing (and don’t give me shit for calling it “EDM”. It’s stands for exactly what it is, plus I’m not going to list everything from trap to jit every time I write about this) being all over every festival and in every pop song is just the contemporary version of hair metal; full of pomp and little substance, and someone who is the equivalent of Kurt Cobain is going to make your flip flops and big bead necklace scene look silly. The only reason it hasn’t happened yet is because “guitar” acts from years past keep trying to flip the public’s opinion by trying to cash in on nostalgia, like when Paul McCartney joined the Foo Fighters and did a song they wrote in an afternoon that sounds like a limp dick version of “Love Spreads” by the Stone Roses. The electronic music festival thing is so far up its own ass right now, that organizers don’t even trust guys whose ENTIRE JOB it is to press “play” to press play.
2. The local DJ.
The local DJ is trying to “hustle” the “grind” and get “trill” enough to “go hard”, and needs to climb an enclave ladder in hopes that he/she gets to play 20 minutes opening for a DJ from another country when that DJ comes to town to play a festival where you wait in five different lines to buy a card that you can load up with money to buy beer and then wait in line to get a wristband the gets you to wait in line to get your ID checked so you can wait in line to get a beer that is sponsored by the company that sold you the card.
The local DJ often gets in snarky, online beefs with other local DJs because someone played a song that the first DJ says he/she “belongs” to them, even though they didn’t write it, produce it, perform on it, or release it. In fact, they usually just pirated it, but still won’t tell anyone who asks what the song is called because it’s their “secret weapon”. I mean, you wouldn’t want to give any publicity to the artist that is helping you make a living so they could maybe gain some notoriety and make some money off it themselves, right?
Local DJs are playing too loud to thirty people in your bar, and are the main reason you see your near future recreation time being darts in a buddy’s garage, sitting on a case of Michelobs, trying to waft away cigarette smoke because his wife will kill you if her house smells like smolder. A friend of mine in his late fifties once told me of these bars in town that him and his like-aged friends go to where the girls who work there are older than twenty and not hired because of how their boobs look in a maxi dress, who know what you drink, make the drink properly and call you “hun”. I asked him where those bars were and he said, “Fuck you. I’m not telling you. I’ve seen enough of my hangouts ruined by you and your hipster friends playing techno and ironic Billboard Hot 100 songs off of laptops your daddies bought you.”
This type of DJ is trying to fuck your sister (and her friends) who just came to the bar to “dance it out”. Trust me, it’s the only reason straight, male DJs have Beyonce in their Serato queue. If they can convince a bunch of thizz faces to come back to their 27th floor apartment, they’ve usually got a two turntable with sub woofer setup as the focal point of their living room, which usually has this hanging above it:
3. The other guys.
There are some DJs who have cool record collections, but aren’t sanctimonious about it, who don’t care what format other DJs play, can usually tune a guitar pretty well if they need to, make songs in their spare time, play cool 60s blue beat 7”s or “Shari Vari” at neat parties in weird venues or bars owned by guys who actually bartend there, and get off on those perfect nights where there’s enough buddies in the bar that they can play songs like “Rock In The Sea” and have everyone clap along. In eleven years, I’ve met like four of these kinds of guys. I call them unicorn DJs. Catch those guys in your butterfly nets and ride those motherfuckers to the moon.
DJs: they’re everywhere, and everyone is one, and apparently every event needs one. Hockey game? Need a DJ. Art gallery opening? Call that DJ you know. Funeral? Well, someone has to press play on that Red House Painters song. I look forward to when every single last one of us is a DJ, and DJ gigs act as crypto currency in a neo-libertarian dystopian future. I will go see my doctor, and to get treatment for my bionic knees, I will have to DJ her Persian New Year’s party. Until then, I’ll see you at the next Ty Segall show. I’ll probably be DJing between sets.