played my first peak time set this weekend
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  1. #1
    Tech Wizard
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    Default played my first peak time set this weekend

    holy heck, that was amazingly cool!

    Someone posted a request for djs to lend their talents to an underground fundraiser this weekend and I thought, what the heck. I asked for an opening hour or something not too ambitious as I'm pretty green. Upon hearing a couple practice mixes on soundcloud the organizers offered me the 1130-130 time slot.

    After double-checking the email address to make sure it was meant for me I said, sure, I'll give it a go. The night was a showcase for novice artists and djs and it was a no-pressure environment, which made it much more reassuring that I wasn't biting off more than I could chew. I've been trading skills with a friend on a weekly basis so I got him involved as well as part tag-team part insurance in case I was in over my head.

    This was my third dj gig ever.

    I actually had tickets to see Bonobo that night in SF and ended up bailing on the show since I had my own gig; money well spent!

    There were about 50 people there in all and the space was an artists' warehouse which was decked out really cool. Got there about 930 to check in and meet the organizers and residents and get the layout of the place and meet the other DJs.

    No more than two or three people were really going crazy dancing throughout the night, so I just chalked it up to being part of the ambience rather than "ooh, lookit me tweak the knobs..."

    The more I sat around the more nervous I got. In that good kind of nervous way, though. The night before I composed a loose set of ten songs that mix well together as a starting point along with mixing notes (start from cue4, cut highs from deck B, etc.). Man, this helped SO MUCH in being able to relax into the set and have fun and start building the energy (which was already pretty high from the previous dj's electro set).

    I packed double what I needed. My main bag included my main rig: laptop, controller (VCI-100DJTT1.4 bought from Stereothief), NI Audio2 soundcard, in-ear monitors, usb and audio cables, flashlight, laptop power supply, and a couple extra audio cables as i didn't know if I needed rca vs 1/4". My backup bag had another soundcard (focusrite scarlett 8i6), over-the-ear headphones (sennheiser HD280s), extension cord, power strip, more usb cables and audio cables. I never opened the backup bag, but I was glad I brought it. Also brought a folding table just in case.

    It took me about 20 minutes to get powered up and connected to the booth. The house had two stanton decks, CDJ850s, and a Vestax PCM-500 mixer suspended from the ceiling along with two jbl booth monitors and several subs and 4 mackie 2x15 mains. nice setup!

    I had a rough start due to no audio while coming in to with my first track. reminded me of the fatboy slim video from venice 2011 that someone posted in here earlier. Turned out the mixer has a switch to select which input each channel used. It's always down to one switch, isn't it? Once we got that figured out - and thankfully before the previous track ended - I was on my way.

    I have a Toshiba Satellite AMD cpu, 2GB ram, Vista 32-bit, and two hard drives one for programs one for data, both 5400rpm drives. I ran Gamebooster prior to starting TP2.5 and decided to try the Audio2, which sometimes taxes the audio load meter in TP2 a bit but it was worth a shot. Made sure to turn off WiFi and the setup ran smoothly all night long.

    My partner was using a MBP and a standard vci-100 and midifighter with TP2. Since I was up and running right away he gave me the go-ahead to get it on.

    It is amazing to watch a crowd react instantly to what works and what doesn't. It makes sense, being on the dance floor and hearing something I'm not interested in, my body just sort of stops and I figure out what to do next. At this event instrumental music worked better than vocal music.

    I think I was bouncing harder than anyone on the dance floor.

    For the most part the night went smoothly. I learned on the spot that when "reset mixer parameters when loading track" is selected that channel's level is set to 100%, which made for a couple rather loud cueing goofs.

    I use Westone UM2s as my main headphones. They were great for the volume and also hearing protection (27dB reduction) and I think the dj booth may have been louder than the dance floor. The previous djs helped us get our levels right and we even got the "turn up a bit" signal as our set progressed. I loved the in-ears for their sound clarity but the cable would get caught on the corners of the nearest deck. They are also not as easy to take on and off as over the ear cans are so I'm going to try those next time.

    At about 1230 I realized a couple things: 1.there were more people dancing than not. 2. everyone was smiling big and giving a lot of thumbs up. 3.This was the peak moment of the night and everything was going smoothly. 4. I had an even bigger track to play.

    After an hour I was cooked. I couldn't think of what to play next and it felt like I had played everything I had. Being able to tap my partner and say "your turn for a bit" was a life saver.

    Having the setlist prepared was invaluable for the beginning of the night. Next up is composing a setlist for the whole night (with the knowledge that I may not even play any of those songs when it comes down to it).


    I have been a professional musician (drums and bass guitar) for over 25 years, and no matter what the debates, this is being a musician. Only the technology has changed. I loved the feeling of jumping in to deep water by not preparing the entire set of music and letting the moment happen and reading the crowd. It's identical to a jazz or improv jam band performance. We don't know what we're going to play, we just say what we have to say.

    There were a couple hiccups but thankfully I never stopped the wrong deck. I did rely on one or two effects the entire time, so I minimized my usage of them and mixed it up once I realized I was doing that.

    Less is More. with effects, beatjuggling, transitions, breakdowns, everything.

    At home I'm practicing my beatmatching to build that skill, but at the gig the sync button is a great help. Instead of leaving it on I would press it a couple times to get the bpm matched and then rely on my drumming experience to cue in and start new tracks. My partner gave me the nod to come in whenever I'm ready only to hear that I'd already been in for the last 16 measures

    If you are tag-teaming with someone else keep the conversing under the music volume so that the floor can't hear what you're saying.

    I tried turning down the booth monitors and realized I could hear the time delay of the low frequencies bouncing back and promptly cranked them back up. Visions of out of sync beatmatching flew through my head.

    feeling the flow is amazing and relaxing and letting it do so is phenomenal to experience.

    We ended up getting lots of compliments form fellow djs and patrons and even got asked to keep playing longer than our scheduled time slot. There might be a couple more gigs as a result as well!

    thanks for reading, this forum has been a huge help.


    http://www.soundcloud.com/riddmkidd

  2. #2
    Tech Guru Bassline Brine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by riddmkidd View Post
    We don't know what we're going to play, we just say what we have to say.
    I think that was really well said, and awesome that you had such a good gig man Hopefully more comes from it!
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by riddmkidd View Post
    holy heck, that was amazingly cool!

    Someone posted a request for djs to lend their talents to an underground fundraiser this weekend and I thought, what the heck. I asked for an opening hour or something not too ambitious as I'm pretty green. Upon hearing a couple practice mixes on soundcloud the organizers offered me the 1130-130 time slot.[/url]

    If only the guys in AZ were that cool.
    They go off how many facebook friends and likes one has

  4. #4
    Tech Wizard
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    Thanks, me too! back to listening to my library and analyzing tracks.

  5. #5
    Tech Wizard
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    Mellostate, keep doing it. where are you in AZ? This was through the burner community. Turned out to be a night of novice artists so there was a lot of encouragement and support.

  6. #6

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    Phoenix
    It seems that all the promo groups grouped up together from what I heard, still looking into that.

  7. #7
    Tech Wizard
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    PHX has a pretty good burner scene and they are generally supportive and welcoming. check out http://www.azburners.org/ and see what that community can offer and what you can offer them.

  8. #8
    Tech Wizard Vandalus's Avatar
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    Where was the venue? I'm also in the bay (I work in the town) so am always interesting in hearing of new spots opening up. Thanks.
    http://www.mixcloud.com/CalBearister/
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  9. #9
    DJTT Infectious Moderator photojojo's Avatar
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    Great job and great write up.
    Chris Jennings FHP

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  10. #10
    Tech Wizard
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    Vandalus, it was at Radiance. private venue, donated for a fundraiser for a new art installation heading to the playa. Finally checked out Monarch in SF this week. ever been there?

    Photojojo, thanks!

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