As the DJ moves from club booths to festival stages, the equipment has become increasingly varied. And as the lines continue to blur between a DJ who mixes and a producer who presses play, questions of authenticity have been raised. I should mention that I am a DJ myself.
Festivals started spending millions equipping their stages with the biggest LED panels and brightest lights, competing with rivals all in the name of this “experience.” Now we are in the middle of an arms race where every DJ tries to out-do the next one with shock and awe. As the performance aspect becomes predominant, a paradigm shift is underway. Crowds used to come see DJs for a musical journey. Now they expect to hear specific songs and furthermore, they want to see a show. I can attest to this myself: the craziest crowd response that I get in my sets is when I play my own tracks, and I built a huge, illuminated A-shaped structure that I bring to my biggest gigs. But one has to wonder, when so much emphasis is put on hit records and mise-en-scène: is there still room for DJ skills?
For the DJs who bounce from venue to venue, playing the same set without the redeeming quality of a personalized stage production, there is no excuse. This laziness is actually giving “live” performances more value! After any big EDM festival, look up the DJ playlists. They’re frighteningly similar. This scene is turning into a caricature. Explosions, private jets, standing on tables (I plead guilty to the latter), and now carbon copy playlists… The hair metal soap opera of EDM risks devaluing a culture that has waited for its big break for 30 years.
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