I attended a total flop last night.
Greg and I attended an excellent talk on Friday evening at Angels and Kings. Dave Haslam
, former Hacienda resident and now a music journalist, gave a lecture and took Q&A on the role of Manchester's economic and social circumstances in shaping Joy Division, New Order, and the city's musical output in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was impressed with the insightful, scholarly nature of the discussion.
So on Saturday night, I headed out to Brooklyn to see Dave Haslam and DJ Shred play a load of Hacienda and Manchester classics. But it didn't really pan out.
I arrived shortly after midnight. Dave was behind the decks, but when the track ended, there was an awkward pause, he tried to figure out what was going on, and it was about 20 seconds before the next tune began. The same thing happened after that tune finished.
While I was excited for a classics night, I wasn't exactly looking to relive the "Oakenfold on one turntable" story
, which I assumed was the nature of the problem. It turned out not to be the case.
DJ Shred played for a bit, facing the same difficulties. I bought a beer, chatted with Carlos, one of the organizers, who suggested they were going to skip out on their own party. And then a while later, I noticed that Dave Haslam was nowhere to be seen.
Chatting with a few other folks who were involved, I learned that Haslam had some problem playing his CDs -- the CDJs simply wouldn't read them. He got frustrated and just ditched the gig.
But the problem had to be more than that, because as DJ Shred soldiered on to an incredibly shrinking dancefloor, she wasn't beat matching. Somehow the pitch slider on the CDJs wasn't working? But why didn't she switch to the turntables? She had a number of vinyl records on hand, and the Technics didn't look to have any problem. I would guess the cue function on the mixer was busted, but she kept using her headphones and trying to cue up tracks.
Anyway, it's a bit rough to DJ without pitch adjustments. The tunes were great (Hashim - Al Naafiysh , 808 State - Pacific State, Inner City - Good Life [Derrick May Remix], A Guy Called Gerald - Voodoo Ray, Orbital - Chime), but it's tough to get through trainwrecks-cum-transitions, and by 2:00 am the crowd had dwindled to a dozen people. Time to go.
How should you DJ without the capacity to beatmatch? This could have been an exercise in the DJ Challenge series that some friends and I used to do in undergrad, in which we'd propose tasks or obstacles for a mix. The entire time I was watching DJ Shred, I was wondering why she didn't
(1) EQ the crap out of the tunes, both to reduce the clash and to allow herself to use a high-pass filter as a false build up before slamming over to the new tune
(2) transition during breakdowns rather than percussion outros, so that even if the crowd had to bear a melodic clash, they weren't listening to horses galloping
Other suggested techniques?
So I heard some really good tracks last night, but it was a pretty big flop. Easily the most disastrous gig I've attended.