Worst. Gig. Ever

Share your amusingly tragic DJ experiences here.

Not looking for bitterness or calling people out.

IE. Shat yourself and then got arrested - come on in.

So and so didn’t pay you - leave it at the door.

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Always Massive Attack

I was Djing at a club called the Shrine in Brighton (now Rialto) it was probably 98/99 or so. A crew of us had been to a Samhain celebration beforehand involving much fire, paganism and lots of mushrooms. All very Brighton in the 90’s. We got to the club, i started my set. For some reason i was wearing a full head latex mask, i pulled up the mask and downed a pint of Guinness in one. Something then happened which made me unable to connect the sound coming from the speakers with the record spinning on the platter. No matter how closely (and i was close) i stared at the stylus i couldn’t understand how music could be coming from it. Basically i’d lost my faculties. i seem to remember being helped to a seat as my girlfriend continued the gig. Apparently she was very good, well they were my records! :joy:

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Despite having had my fair share of empty clubs and cleared dancefloors, this one sticks in the mind.

New club where the promoter had opted for a ‘word of mouth’ and ‘organic’ approach to promotion. This meant he hadn’t told anyone. Got 5 people through the door who all were gamely trying to have a good time, despite clearly not being in interested in the meat & potatoes house n garage I was serving up.

One of them came up and asked me I could “play the records faster” so there was a better chance I’d get to something they might like quicker.

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I once had a very animated guy pull the booth (which was on wheels) off the stage. Decks were smashed, the guy was pinned under it for a while until the bouncers could lift it off him, then he scarpered off. Night came to a swift end. Surprised no-one got sued…

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I did see a guy chuck a pint of water up at the dj box trying to catch his attention because he met him at a party the week before…

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Me and my mate Colin were doing a favour for Toby Tobias in one of those street market things and some bloke was pissed and high and leaned over the decks and somehow managed to pull the whole lot over on top of himself and smashed it all upside down on the floor. Everything was bent and mangled. I remember turning to Col and saying ‘ooop’.

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playing on mushrooms is the most confusing thing

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I played a warehouse party that had multiple floors, this was about '99, I was DJing on the top floor. Just before I went on I decided to go outside to for a fag. I had been told not to use one of the lifts but couldn’t remember which one. I got in one that was close to the DJ area. The bloody thing jammed between floors and I couldn’t open the doors. I had left my phone in my jacket which was with my records. The promoter was apparently super pissed that I had just buggered off and was badmouthing me to anyone that would listen. I was in that lift all night and didn’t get out till mid morning the next day. My records, jacket and phone were long gone and never retrieved. Not really a worst gig technically as I never quite got to do it. I can laugh now, kinda.

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I was going to post something but it would pale into insignificance against this!

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Please do post it. In this era of Instagram perfection, I relish the other end of the spectrum.

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Alright then, so my mate and I got booked to play last at a local plum festival, it’s a thing in Worcestershire apparently. I had been the previous year when my friends folk band played and it was a small tent in a pub beer garden by the river Avon, with not many people there. I thought, this will be lovely, a few chilled out records to finish off the evening.

We turned up in the midst of a giant fireworks display to find a very large crowd of extremely drunk and rowdy locals listening to a blues covers’ band playing on a massive stage, so large there were steps up to it with a handrail and everything!

So we set up and start playing our totally inappropriate vinyl selection of underground afro disco psychedelic rarities. I fluff my first mix, which gets a large cheer from the crowd, people start booing, chucking empty glasses at us, plastic luckily. A constant stream of very lary local women started coming up, every time they do I have to climb down from the stage to talk to them, they’re asking; ‘Have you got any ABBA, Boney M, Nolan Sisters etc…’ and ‘let me plug my phone in I can do better’. One woman tells me that I have ruined her whole weekend, I still don’t quite understand how.

We were booked for 2 hours, but managed to clear the crowd in around 20 minutes, most of them throwing some form of obscene gesture at us as they left. Still got paid though so not all bad…

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That is going to take some beating!! :laughing:

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somebody think of the plums!

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Bravo ! If only you had some Nolans.

a toss up between “i just want to tell you that your music is fucking shit” (playing a gig when i was skint, in one of the cities worst clubs) or a uni gig, where the speakers were set up facing a wall, about 10 ft away and i loaded a copy of a mix i’d done to promote a party that was forthcoming, into each cdj and just played those - blending one into the other, if anyone came into the room, at that time. when a couple of people finally came in, it was so they could indulge in some very heavy petting. seemingly oblivious to the fact that i was there.

playing on a kitchen sink, outside the dj booth and with no real monitoring, was a good one too

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  • a gym, a young and slightly overly ambitious promoter who booked me as he had seen me DJ advised it would be a great party. I walked into the final dregs of the day time work out crowd to the promoter looking sheepish at me saying ‘his mates would be with me soon’. Nobody showed up. I left after a few hours, it smelled really weird.

Most importantly, I think the DJ’s that play cities weekend and weekend out need a resilience medal as it’s hard work being a source of entertainment, party host, background music creator, ‘vibe creating’ (ffs !) and general jukebox for the inebriated. I did my time doing this, a lot of the time the gigs are either middling, sometimes bad and sometimes brilliant. The sets can be long as well, sometimes from 7pm till late. There is usually one person who wants to hold your headphones so they can put on their Instagram that they are DJing or a charged/drunk individual who knows music better than you do but cannot quite think of the song they want to hear. It’s hard graft, I doff my cap to anyone who does that.

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Not my worst gig ever, but I did get asked if I could play “something funky” when James Brown was spinning round at 45 rpm… I pointed out the irony which was totally lost on the girl asking…

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that was fun going down memory lane. surprisingly, the fights, being threatened to be killed or deported (in the states… I’m from the states), the dodgy promoters – all very on brand I’d say.

I think my least favorite DJ memory was at a club called Silk City in Philadelphia (of Tasty Treats, Back to Basics fame) and I was to close out the night after a DJ/band combination. It was a Monday or Tuesday which was already an uphill battle, but there was a healthy crowd and they were enjoying themselves.

I asked the DJ (a young, new guy) to let the track run so I could mix in and keep the dance floor. He nodded in agreement, and proceeded to let the last track end, get on the mic and “thank everyone for coming”.

In the 10-15 seconds of silence (these were the days when CDs were put in CDJs) the entire club emptied out and the only people I had left to play to were the bartenders and security.

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another one was when I played a frat house when I was in college and there was an active robbery happening in the house while we were playing. we saw the guys running out with a bunch of stuff but we just kept playing – no one at the party seemed to notice.

last one

I was doing a small run of gigs in Southern California. Some friends told me that the guy was gigging with was “the guy” in town. I also had other friends in town so it was a good excuse to make a visit and play some records. Needless to say the gear that I was told was going to be there was not there, it was a lofted booth in a MASSIVE pizza restaurant. The only people there were my friends who didn’t even live in California.

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