Sometimes the Customer is not Right
In January 2010 I played an intimate underground show with the Just Do It crew as co-guest with DJ Wada at the Gamuso Art Bar in Asagaya. As always the hand crafted monster stereo sound system was tuned to perfection and the audience was energetic and attentive to detail, a perfect combination to get deep and introspective and then gradually wind everything up to a dramatic climax.
I did however nearly get into a fight during my sound check and for anyone who knows me this is absolutely unheard of considering that I have the patience of a mountain glacier filmed in slow motion and tolerance level to match, how else could I get all that crazy automation done?
Let me preface this recap with a little background history, explain why this event is so special to me and why the person I took issue with crossed a line I will not stand to have crossed.
The Just Do It crew have supported me, my music and my live shows for a number of years. They have shown me nothing but the highest artistic regard and they have a dedication to dance music that inspires me to make music and perform it at my best. Their parties never make money, it is techno for techno’s sake and it is real and honest.
Over the years they have accumulated a small and passionate following of techno-educated regulars who listen to an eclectic range of electronic music and when I make sly references to other genres or play one of my many in-set practical jokes (like dropping a mashup of Micahel Jackson’s Billy Jean with this crazy video and an interview with Oprah Winfrey) they get it straight away and from this a kind of crazy dialog with them has emerged and I am able to riff with the audience based on this history.
I love these guys very much and respect them even more, I made this set especially for them.
So there I am doing my sound check, I have been putting it together for about a week and I am on my third day of little to no sleep – one studio session, timed by my internet connection, standing at 18 straight hours and more – so at this point I am very tired, very hungry and very excited.
While I am setting up (it is around 10pm) a French man and his two female Japanese cohorts wander up to the dance floor from the bar below. It’s a very relaxed atmosphere so no one cares if they sit in on the sound check or not and we go about tuning the sound and setting levels.
As a tradition the crew always does the final system level check with Kirk De Georgio.
This track has immense emotional meaning for all of us because when we do the outdoor festival in summer this is the song that signals the sound system is ready to go and that the party is on!
I get goose bumps just thinking about it.
This is precisely when this prick decides to start humming and hawing about when the “real” music is going to start. He does the usual and predictable rant on how this music has no soul, machine music for automatons and so on but I pass him off as a drunk idiot, we are all entitled to our opinions, and I of all people know how niche this music is, I am fully aware that it is not everybody’s cup of tea and I really have no problem with people not liking it
BUT this guy wouldn’t leave it there.
The design of this set is to get attention, go deep, go really deep and then burst above the surface to float and play in the clouds. So as my sound check progresses the music gets louder and more intense – unfortunately so does the Frenchman.
It’s a a fucking level check but I can hear this guy complaining from across the dance floor getting more and more upset that the machine music is taking over, there are no real instruments, there is no emotion – yada yada yada,
I am starting to get irritated.
So as I get louder and more intense, so does the French man who by this time is on his feet and looking very upset that no one is really paying attention to him but we are all focused on getting ready for the event so his chimping and chest beating for the ladies (who are goading him on) is the least of our concerns.
But here’s where he crosses the line. I reach the highest level peak of the set, I step out onto the dance floor to hear the system from the audience’s perspective. I am concentrating on the levels with the engineer when I am unceremoniously pushed out of the way (of my own music) by the French man who then proceeds to walk towards my gear and the speakers goose stepping and sieg heiling in time to my music.
I am too stunned to react at this point, so much so that I just go back to my gear and start to wind up the sound check.
It all sounds good and I just have one or two more intense spots to preview and then I have to re check that all the loops are syncing correctly (horrible phasing on the kick otherwise). To do this I have to jump from place to place in the set, cutting the audio to silence from time to time and each time I do a mute the three burst into loud applause, cheering and whooping that the music has stopped and loud jeers of disapproval when it starts up again.
It is very loud at this point but the they are even louder and I simply slam the music off and scream at them to.
“SHUUUT THE FUUUCK UP!”
The whole bar, even down stairs, goes dead quite, like that scene in a western where a fight is about to break and even the piano music stops.
There is this moment of fight or flight and the Frenchman doesn’t quite know what to do.
I yell at him again.
“SHUUUT THE FUUUCK UP!” You have no idea what you are talking about so shut up and go somewhere else.”
I have never had my music or my friends so disrespected by anyone. I was shaking and fuming so I unhooked my computer went to a local curry bar and had an awesome dal with nan and when I returned to the venue the three of them were gone.
Thankfully their energy departed with them and the rest of the evening was fantastic,
I have said it before and I will say it again, DJ Wada is one of the finest techno DJs on the planet.