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Sunday, 21 August 2011

Hang the blessed DJ

DJs at gigs are a sorry bunch.

After going to approximately 1,682 gigs in the last 10 years (I said approximately), I reckon I've heard about 14 interestingly DJ-ed ones. Not many, in other words.

The big problem? Predictability. You're at a garage rock-type gig, the DJ plays Jay Reatard, The Sonics and The Monks. How interesting is that? Or you're at a grindcore thing and ... well, no need to labour the point (like them).

It's the Henry Ford approach to music programming. Any style, as long as it's totally uniform.
It's not just this type of predictability either. It's also the bone-crushing obviousness of the selections themselves. If I hear The Stooges' I Wanna Be Your Dog one more time at a gig I'm gonna set my rottweiler on the DJ.

There are exceptions. About two years ago at an (otherwise rather so-so) gig in Camden the DJ displayed a modicum of flair and imagination by sticking on some groovily ancient-sounding ballads, circa 1935. At another in Stepney a set by the heavy gloom rock band Tenebrous Liar was followed by a batch of excellent reggae tunes, an intelligent counterpoint rather than a dunderheaded echo.

And what's worse than the dull stuff we get served week after week? Er, those times when they don't even bother getting anyone on the decks but just stick on a compilation CD. C'mon! Even Top Shop has a DJ.

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