Picture taken from http://www.flickr.com/photos/kingdiamondkid/ and displayed under fair use.
I wanted to give a big shout out to everyone who came out to Midsummer Nights last Friday. I had a good time overall and especially enjoyed hearing all the props afterwards, it made my night. However, by far the most annoying part of the evening was setting up all the sound equipment for the performers who just don’t understand how their shit is supposed to work.
I’m a fairly technical guy, I love knowing how things work…I think Vanilla Ice put it best: “If there’s a problem, yo, I’ll solve it.” But that love ends when I’m stuck at a gig trying to figure out everyone else’s shit. If you don’t know, tell me you don’t know instead of having me play 20 Questions and get incorrect answers because you just don’t understand anything. If you want the privilege of playing out, at least understand your own equipment and bring all the cables you need so we don’t have to hunt shit down because you just assume it’ll be there. It’ll keep people like me from writing posts like this about how big of a fucking moron you are.
Many people talk about the lost art of DJing, and having been a DJ for almost 12 years myself, I understand. There seems to be a difference between using technology as a tool, or having the technology make you a Tool. Serato and Traktor can be used to an amazing degree, allowing great DJs to do things that would never be possible before. However, it seems like a lot of DJs these days are allowing the software to do all the heavy lifting. Beatmatch syncing blows, it’s stupid, it makes you look like a moron, and has an unmistakable perfection that any real DJ can pick out after your first “mix”. Now that Ableton has come into the picture, the landscape is changing even further. Track selection and feeding off the crowd and making a great environment for everyone has completely gone out the window.
The picture of DJDT above is not from Midsummer Nights, but from Beach Dazed, a party that happened a couple weeks ago. They played at Midsummer Nights as well using a similar setup. This time it was a laptop running Ableton and a mini-to-RCA cable running from the headphone jack. No MIDI controllers, no Samplers, no control surfaces of any kind. Just Ableton. And one long, premade set. Click the pic above if you don’t believe me.
And as much as this bothers me and many other DJs out there, I’ve come to the realization that nobody cares. The crowd doesn’t care, the venues don’t care, the promoters don’t care. The only ones who care are the ones who have spent a great deal of time working towards an art that seems to be dying. It’s now a commodity to see a DJ playing a “SPECIAL ALL VINYL SET”, even though that’s what DJs were doing fairly exclusively up until a couple years ago.
Arguments about records being too heavy are understandable. I admit, switching to Traktor has saved my back quite a bit. But most of the people making that argument are the ones who don’t buy records, don’t mix by ear, and think that beatmatching is just making sure the numbers on each side of the screen match up (Phase? What’s phase? It’s a filter, right? Wait, where’d my bass go?).
Soon, it’ll just be CD listening parties with the “DJ” only pressing play and then proceeding to jump up and down on stage with the enthusiasm of David Lee Roth, doing the physical equivalent of “Dude, you have to hear this part coming up, it’s so good!” When the tools were harder to get and harder to perfect, the end result was much better.
Accessibility breeds mediocrity. And that leads me to the picture caption, the peril of Ableton is that someone might actually try and get a crowd shot and accidentally capture the fact that you aren’t doing anything other than jumping around like a lunatic.