The first time I came to Portugal was with Timmy Vegas around 5 years ago. As you would expect, the finer points are a little hazy. We were flown in to ‘perform’ on stage as Soul Central for the Portugese MTV awards around the time Strings of Life was a number one here. It was phenomenal, getting flown to a country for the first time, staying in a posh hotel AND geting paid for it. I’ll have some of that thanks ! Unfortunately it’s all been downhill ever since.
I have made some very good friends here over the years, many of whom have appreciated my style of playing and my willingness to adapt to the crowd when needed, so they continue to bring me back. One gig Timmy and I did here was in a Fortress, we warmed up for Dave Seaman. It was empty all night. Another I played with Dennis Ferrer at a massive open air party. It was empty all night.
I know Portugal has a very strong musical history in the house scene, alas I was too busy at Marco Polos all those years ago to have ever witnessed it first hand and it seems that everywhere I go here (I type this on my hotel bed waiting to go home) people vaguely remember it themselves.
I am sure there have been a couple of good gigs, the nature of the beast means the best gigs tend to be the ones I remember the least due to over indulgence.. come to think of it I recollect quite a few occasions where I’ve been worse for wear, so maybe it hasn’t been as bleak as I’m painting a picture.
One of the worst gigs of my life was here in Portugal, it really damaged my confidence and made me look hard at myself and where I was going. I have always proudly boasted that I can rock any crowd when needed, not being too worried about the ‘trainspotters’ and dropping that big tune when needed, although that reality does seem a long, long time ago now. If you have been with me for a while you already have heard me go on about this several times, so I dont want to go over old ground but today the gap between pleasing the crowd and doing what I want in MOST mainstream clubs has gotten way too wide and last night was the final straw (I think there have been a few final straws).
The other gig I talk about was around two years ago, to cut a long story short the night started out packed with kids who looked no older than 17 with a resident DJ basically doing a BlackEyePeas/Lady GaGa/Madonna etc megamix for 45 minutes before I came on. I struggled to keep the dance floor and slowly everyone pissed off into the second room where the DJ was playing Meatloaf or something (I shit you not). The back end of my set I noticed a few older faces had started to enter and so was able to switch it up and make the most of a bad night.. but I really was upset by the whole experience.
I’ve been back here several times since, thanks to my good friends at Grooves Productions who each time assure me the gig will be perfect for me. It hasn’t been and last night was no exception. Coral Beach Party for the last two years has been really great with a cool, older crowd and so I was sure to fit in, they said. A sign of the times I guess as the event was not as busy as previous ones (although it still had a healthy turnout).
Anyway, the whole night went something like this..
- I turned up, got out of the car and heard a massive roar as a breakdown came in on a track.
- The crowd were clearly excited.
- I got excited.
- I walked into the stage area as the DJ was playing “Now that’s what I call Reggaeton Vol 95” and whipping the crowd into a frenzy on the mic.
- They fist punched in unison.
- I saw the average age was about 18.
- I became less excited.
- The DJ finished his set with three of my ten year old son’s favourite records of the moment, finishing with Blur – “Song 2”
- I started to play.
- The crowd became less excited.
- I did the best I could and rocked most of the crowd for most of my set.
- I played for almost 90 minutes and the arena remained busy (3.45 – 5.15am).
- I had an MC on stage with me who helped keep the atmosphere somewhat respectable.
- As the next DJ was setting up his Traktor, a small group of girls where giving me the thumbs down sign and putting their hands to their mouths as if they were bored.
- I blew them kisses.
- They got confused and blew me kisses back.
- I pointed the girls out to the MC who told them to make some noise.
- They all screamed and jumped up and down.
- They started doing the thumbs down signs again.
- I blew them kisses back.
- I finished my set.
Who said being a DJ wasn’t glamourous ?
One nice thing did come of it all though. As I stood at the front of the stage, observing once I’d finished, another group of kids caught my eye and gestured to me and pointed to get back on the decks with a begging sign with their hands. Or they were telling me to fuck off home.
I laugh about it now, I kind of expected it, but am adamant (not Adam Ant) that I won’t be coming back here again unless I am certain it is for the right gig and I can’t see that happening any time soon.
It’s not my fault, although it does make me feel like I cheapened myself by accepting another gig I knew might not be right. It isn’t my agent’s fault as he believed it would be a good gig (Thanks ever so much guys for all your hard work). It isn’t the promoter’s fault as he obviously thought he was booking a good DJ, and it isn’t the warm up guy’s fault as he did an amazing job at smashing the hell out of the crowd before I started.
I blame my son for not letting me borrow his CDs.
When I get home tonight I will add some videos to this blog.