Playing the role of the DJ can be a lot of fun – you get to play the music, you choose it, and if people lose their shit, either by dancing up a storm, or patting you on the back and applauding your choice you can – naturally – feel a bit chuffed. You’ve done your job. Good on you. But don’t be fooled, playing the role of the DJ is a mostly thankless task – you’re expected to have every single song ever invented. You’re expected to play requests immediately and to know the name of the song by just the vaguest hint (“oh what’s the one…you know…the song…?”)
And nowhere is this more painfully apparent than when you take on the gig of playing music for Someone Else’s Big Day. You might know the bride. Or groom. Or half the people there. That’s not going to matter. Someone is going to stump you, someone is going to be offended because you did not play Crazy Frog. And hey, even if you did – that just means someone else will be offended. You cannot win.
I’ve played at a few weddings. And there are always issues. I’ve also played plenty of weddings – dozens, maybe even a hundred – as part of the band. This is just as bad, maybe worse. You are also expected to know every song ever invented. I’ve played in an Irish band at weddings and been asked for ABBA. That first set was really great, all that Irish shit, but hey, now for some ABBA, please? Whaddya say? I say “you booked an Irish band”. This makes me incredibly rude of course. I should have been so grateful to have a gig I should have spent 30 years learning every single pop song just in case…
But man, there was this one time. I agreed to DJ a wedding. And it was going well. Really well. Lovely people. And a wonderful vibe. I played the song for the first dance – great song, a wise choice. They’d even suggested a “second song”, and so I followed along with that and it worked, the dancefloor was full, a span of generations, all happy. This was going so well. Tracks three, four and five fell into place. Tracks six, seven, eight too. I was having a damn good time too, it was mildly stressful of course and I was digging that fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants/what-will-I-play-next vibe, it was giving me a buzz. I was responding well. A dream gig? A model set? Yep, pretty much…
And then there was a call for a break – some people there wanted to perform an original song for the happy couple.
Fair enough. I ended the music, even made the announcement. I stepped down.
This group of impossibly good looking guys and girls strode to the stage area. It was whispered in my ear that they’d perform “one or two songs” and that, also, one of the members of the group had a song he wanted to play on his iPhone after. Uh-oh.
They looked and, er, acted like they were characters – being played by the likes of Olivia Wilde and Skeet Ulrich, they had this boho-chic thing going on. They were so relentlessly caught up in themselves, it was as if they just materialised in time to sabotage the gig. They played a small handful of gypsy/ish nonsense that in no way was terrible, but also, in no way reflected how they spoke and looked and dressed. You expected them to be making Arcade Fire-type music, really. But no, it was all darbukas and Christmas bells with acoustic guitars. (Hang on, they’ve probably predicted the next Arcade Fire album…)
They got that thing – instantly – where they decided it was now their gig – they had an audience. A very polite audience, given the situation. I stood there, behind the decks, sorta guarding my records really and trying to send a hint that we should probably return to the regularly programming.
But on the songs went – and then Skeet Ulrich came up, all filled with a non-stop party vibe, and tapped me on the shoulder as he pushed past to plug his phone into the mixer. I thought it must be a song he’d written (oh god) or at least something special for the newlyweds. But no. He just wanted to play his own selections of R’n’B, and the sort of hip-hop you hear in meat-market bars. Again, this didn’t fit with the look and feel of the man, nor with the music he had earnestly plucked and strummed into place.
But it did fit with what a giant cunt he was!
He and a couple of Olivia Wilde Fembots from the gang started dancing in bump’n’grind fashion, tearing the tab on their own brand of party-in-a-can and declaring the night well and truly – finally – alive!
Fuck I was bored.
My boredom was turning, almost, to anger. But for the most part I was just baffled. Who the fuck was this jerk? And what was his deal? And was it my place to kick him off and out? Probably – but I couldn’t do it. I was just the DJ for the night, he was a wedding guest. I figured he knew the couple so well. I figured I’d give him a song or two…
But then that turned to three, four and five and then, he started pressing at his iPhone, using this naff app that created a faux-scratch/blend to merge tracks from one to another. He wanted to be the night’s DJ.
Twenty minutes into it I finally found the groom – asked him the deal. Kick him off was the call. Get rid of him. And in fact the groom did just that. Told him that they had employed a DJ and didn’t need his buzz.
So I returned to the decks and got the dancefloor back too, we were in the full 1980s swing of it, a bit of 90s slacker-stuff too. And all the while the main Olivia Wilde sat there, dress hitched high on the thigh, face like a slapped arse. She was yawning at the end of each song, when I cut the fader across to the new track she’d roll her eyes and then whisper to Skeet, egging him on. He was beginning to take on a Charles Manson glow, actually.
So after an hour or so he made his second move, asked if he could just play one song. I told him that nah, he couldn’t actually. He could wait until the end. I moved it toward the hip-hop he was hoping for. But no, that wouldn’t do. He and Olivia Wilde were so bored when I played Kanye or Jay-Z or whatever.
So I acquiesced, not sure why. All I can think of, as I often do in such situations, is that it’s a bit like that TISM song, you know, I Might Be A Cunt, But I’m Not A Fucking Cunt. This guy was a guest, I figured he meant something, so I’d let him have another go.
Turns out he was a fucking cunt. He played the exact same song from his phone that he and Ms Wilde had chuckled off over about 10 minutes earlier when I had played it. But it was now a case of Oblivious Wild! – she hadn’t heard this before. Not like this! She slut-danced as best (worst) as she could. He flicked and swiped at his phone and got the phony (phone-y) DJ-scratch’n’wipe sounds happening once again. He played the same songs – two of them back to back – that I had just played. And then he went down to greet his harem of Fembots and they ground on down, passing pheromones between fabrics, playing Twister without the floor-mat, role-playing Sex-Ed class exercises. All to the music that was making them nod off just moments earlier.
That was it.
I graciously let whatever song finish then unplugged the phone, moved back to my records and said nothing. I stiff-upper-lipped it through until 3am or whenever it was. Lifted my crates of records to the car after, and drove home.
I’ve agreed to do another wedding this weekend.
What the fuck is wrong with me?!