Hearing Voices

What’s wrong with an app that sends requests to the DJ? Everything, reckons Yogi

I’m already tumbling numerous possible ideas around in my mind for the PSLY acronym pertaining to a new app developed by Toronto-based Yonathan Kristos, which allows the crowd at a club to dictate the DJ’s set and “vibe” by requesting tracks.

Has the world gone mad? Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been to gigs over the years where I wished I was in possession of something mo’ effective and deadly than an app to deal with the DJ’s musical antics and I do understand one man’s poison is another’s musical nectar, but really, this is crowd control gone insane.

One could argue that everybody is a DJ these days and therefore crowds at clubs are more knowledgeable than ever? WRONG! There’s a reason why more and more clubs display a “we don’t play requests” sign next to the booth and that’s because DJs are not robots or jukeboxes.

DJs use their intuition to put a set together, or at least the good ones do, because as we know track selection or programming is one of the most important aspects of the DJ’s job, if not the most crucial element on the night. Mind you, looking at the way some crowds appear to be under sedation in front of DJs at large festivals, it does make you question the ability of some DJs to read a crowd. Perhaps a brail app would be more useful to them, with a “Your audience is in a state of comatose” alert. Some festival DJs would make better anaesthetists, as all too often I see swathes of people gently “going under” and succumbing to the mediocrity of some DJ’s flatline programming.

The fundamental flaw in this PSLY app is this, though; a DJ is there to create the vibe, not be railroaded into it by means of democracy. People will and have always voted for a vibe with their feet, by rushing to the dancefloor when THAT tune drops.
This is the deal between you and the DJ...you put your trust in the selector. You are paying your hard-earned cash to hear a musical maestro. Sometimes the DJ gets it bang on; those are the magical nights, the party that gets spoken about for years on end. However, DJs can and do get it wrong also, they are only human, after all. Can you imagine 1000 wannabe DJs sticking their oar in on the programming and 1000 of them getting it wrong?

A night’s atmosphere and vibe can be turned literally on the spin of one rekkid. It can go either way, badly and a dancefloor can capitulate into a desert, or a perfectly programmed track can create one of those moments where everyone feels the love, the energy, the excitement, the oneness, that elusive VIBE, with seven minutes of pure euphoria. Musical memories last a lifetime when it goes off. To this day I can remember DJs playing a record 40 years ago at a given time in a set, I can remember how the track interacted with the track prior to it and after it. We didn’t huddle on the dancefloor and decide what the DJ should play next; we went with the flow, the energy, the journey!
Anybody that goes to football will understand this analogy. Everybody on the terraces at a footie match is an expert, they shout tactical ideas at players constantly – “Use the winger, shoot, get forward, get back in the box, you plum.” It’s relentless. Imagine the mayhem that would ensue if a football team took the advice of several thousand armchair football players? The game would be all over the shop. There’s a reason the players are on the field and that’s ’cos they are the professionals and can do a better job than the ‘experts’ on the terraces.

There ain’t a DJ on the planet with an ego so in check that they will be told when and what to play. It does bring to mind the old saying, “How many electricians does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer is jus’ the one, of course, if they know what they are doing. A similar question and answer relates to spinning rekkids – one good selector is plenty. Nobody likes a backseat driver!   

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