The line-up has been gawped at for months. Tickets have fluttered their way from early bird right through to a steep, solid ‘SOLD OUT’ and now, finally, a plane-load of jet-lagged DJs are Ubering their way, like an army, toward the venue. It’s Saturday night and the big event is here: the one that’s spewed name after name after name via their Facebook like a Hawaiian volcano. The set times, therefore, are mind-boggling. Dixon for an hour and a half, clashing with, who? Seth Troxler? For an hour? Nip out for a fag and you might miss the DJ you paid £60 for. Or you might come to realise that two-thirds of the 22-strong line-up aren’t going to even grace your ears that night. Even worse, get stuck in the wrong, overcrowded room and you’ll be watching DJs you didn’t even want to see fight over the decks like Instagram personalities over a particularly photogenic bit of street art. But when they’ve been booked for an hour there’s no wonder everyone wants to go back-to-back.
Backstage, with 20-plus DJs on a six-hour line-up, the Green Room crams up quicker than a tube train at peak time. And amid a cigarette fog and global touring DJs the promoter stands, sweaty, in a corner, ket having kicked in, gazing, horrified, at the monster they’ve created. They crush their beer can with a fist, muttering, “There’s just too… many… DJs.”
It’s an all too familiar sight. Promoters fill their line-ups with as many acts as possible in the hope they’ll drag punters from disparate corners of dance music along with them, and fill the rooms. Making fans ‘Ooh’ and ‘Ahh’ at a line-up as it’s announced is all well and good, but does it inevitably ruin the vibe of the event on the night? Putting huge names who are used to soundtracking nights with experimental and expertly conducted marathon sets on stage for an hour is both unfair for the DJ – and for the fans in front of them.