The idea has been suggested to write a brief account of what its like to DJ at a festival. So here goes.

(very) recently i was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to DJ at Leeds Festival (cheers big rob) at very short notice. Whilst at home this threw me into rampant mixing throughout the evening and a prim-selection of all my finest tunes to be sure of putting on a good show, i was looking at an audience of anywhere up to a 1000 revellers, with little or no local support, the pressure was on.

I was due in Leeds on the Saturday, me and the other half had a rough night on Friday - two very close friends leaving the country for the best part of year - fun and frivolity was rampant, we were suffering big time on Saturday - not a good start.

After a lot of pacing around, checking and double checking, tearing out my traktor scratch from the home DJ set up, cups of tea and showering we were good to go, at 2pm, approximately 3hrs behind schedule but no huge crisis, 3 and a half hour drive on the cards, but its all good - we had our recently created mp3 CDs, bags of crisps and bottles of coke to keep us entertained.

Journey up there was fine (I have a very patient girlfriend), on arrival we queued with the bands to get in the artist entrance. Now if ever you have seen a collection of passengers that look like band members, this is it. Always getting out of whatever transport they were in to smoke, drink, or generally stroll up and down, look wistful, push their long hair behind their ears (male or female) and look disillusioned with life, let alone the fact that they were stuck in a queue - and amidst this crowd of artistic musical genius, there we were - me and my girlfriend. If only they had known I was a "DJ", surely I would have been immediately strung up at this guitar-based gathering.

So we're in, a blag here about 'needing to transport my DJing equipment' and a blag there about 'our car pass is in the oxfam campsite' and we're in, not just in, but actually driving my fiesta through the fuckin festival site. OK now i feel like a lord. So we park up, walk the insanely short distance to get our wristbands signed off - get our photo passes, and we're into the 'crew campsite'. Set up tent, pull out chair, cider in hand, its about half 7 in the evening, ive already eaten, im with my girlfriend and two of our good mates who are also DJing. So far so good!

Its a strange atmosphere, and when i realise why, it only pleases me further (though it is a pleasure ridden with guilt). Everyone else in this campsite is doing one 8hr shift EVERY DAY to get where they are. We are doing 2hrs DJing, and we get all the same perks. I feel sooooo bad but bloody hell that has cheered me up even further - I feel like a cheat....

Right so now its about 10pm, we've been to have a look at a few bands (not really my cuppa tea but might as well while we're here), and indulged in several different ways. I'm starting my set anywhere from 12-half12 and finishing at two. Getting edgy now - drinking faster, not finishing my food, hands always busy, talking without listening, girlfriend understanding.

Get in the venue (through the back..... awesome) to see the band on before me, they sound pretty tight, they won a competition or something, though im not sure i like their name "the amateurs", they seem to rev up the crowd with a load of catchy covers n whatnot. Encouraging to see the audience getting involved and increasing in size - then another stroke of luck, it starts hammering with rain. evvvvverrryyyyonne in the tent! there's drunken-northern-late-teens-early-twenties-festival-goers clambering all over each other to get inside, the sheer concentration of fantastic northern accents and party people is doing nothingi to help my being excitable.

So this is it - band off - ipod on to provide filler while the decks are set up centre stage, traktor scratch ready to go, im drunk and smashed. crowd waiting to see whats gonna happen.

I open with boyz noise remix of banquet by bloc party (listen to it here) I started it at exactly 1min 2 seconds in - to try and grab a hold of the northern-band-loving-sing-a-long-crew, and ffuuuccckkk me did it pay off. everyone went bloody ape shit. i dont claim to be amazing or anything, but that choice of opener was one of my finest DJing moments.


The rest is roughly history, the post previous to this was me mixing higher state of consciousness into smack my bitch up, there was a good twenty minute portion of dubstep - i particularly enjoyed playing jahova by rusko - still my favourite dubstep tune of all time - but the crowd received the caspa remix of deadmau5 the best from the dubstep. Had to finish on DnB just to satisfy my and my girlfriends preferred clubbing music (of the moment). Went from MIA -paper planes into 'if we ever' (overplayed now but its easy to mix and a rock festival crowd arent too judgmental for such things!). Given its an epic event, i finished on loaded by primal scream, not your average crowd pleaser, but its an epic flowing tune of happiness without the hecticness, i feel like it suited a festival saturday night.

Now i could write for ages beyond that. the music finished in the tent, an extremely satisfying (and strangely embarassing) round of applause/accolade, and we were off, wrapped up traktor and my control vinyl into the record box, straight back stage and back to the crew campsite for more drinks and all such things. Awake with the mrs and our two good mates till God knows what hour, think we turned in about 8am.... just in time for the shift change of the Oxfam workers..... :D


DJ Freehand


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