How OTD nearly wrecked a perfectly good iPod DJ night

Lethal weapon.

It's said that DJs have a sixth sense that allows them to read a room: to discern -- by osmosis or tell-tale visual clues or smell or whatever -- which records will make a particular audience turn inside out on the dance floor.

OTD, apparently, does not possess this sense.

This became painfully apparent last Friday, when OTD damn near wrecked a perfectly good iPod DJ night at Bill's Bar. We had promised our pal Margo that we would bring digital heat. And bring it we did: not knowing who might show up for such an evening, OTD threw together four different playlists for the occasion -- some contempo disco-rock remixes for the kids (Phones' Bloc Party edit, some DFA1979, that sort of thing); some straight-up alterna-indie goodness (Fiery Furnaces, Arcade Fire, leaked Strokes singles, that sort of thing); some shit that we actually wanted to play out (hip-hop we stole off the internet, remixes we lurked offa Hollerboard (R.I.P.), stuff Lemon-Red IM'd us that nobody's got yet).

Any one of these would probably have been OK. The setup was low-key and people were playing a mix of comfort foods and mild spice and idiosyncratic personal-fave stuff. They also had one of those big-screen instant-text-message boards, like they have at Backstreet Boys concerts, so that wired hipsters could make fun of other wired hipsters' playlists. It was a more or less constant stream of hate up there, regardless of what was actually being played, which was totally fun. Like, Will Spitz played the Jackson 5 and the comments went like this: "Yyyyyupp, sounds like some more hipster bullshit." "What is this happy horseshit?" "Steven Tyler just walked in."

Most of the messages soon devolved into despair ("Can someone play some music with balls?" "Sorry for the lack of Maroon 5." "Turn down the base [sic] tough guy." "Thank god the booze is free." "Julie Kramer is wearing a thong." ) Then someone played "Toxic" and the mood seemed to shift. ("This is the only good iPod I've heard all night." "Ditch Federline.")

When it came to OTDs turn, we suddenly had a change of heart, or a lapse of brain function, or both, and quickly scrolled together an on-the-go playlist that departed from all previous scripts. (In retrospect, the open bar may have had some effect on our judgement.) So when we handed up our iPod to the FNX street-team girl who was running the interface, we saw a look of horror and confusion cross her face. Something was not computing. "Christina?" she said. "You listen to Christina Aguilera?" "Just play it," we assured her, smiling the smug insufferable smile of mildly drunk douchebags the world over. "It's not as bad as you think."

Well, that part was true: It was worse. We'd given them OG Ron C's chopped-and-screwed version of "Beautiful." In our alcohol-scattered brain, we were sure this would blow people's minds: slowed down, Christina sounds like a drunk drag queen. Somehow, given the subject matter of the song, the idea of a drunk drag queen bawling "Beautiful" strikes us as genius. However, it did not strike this audience as genius. It struck them like a molasses flood: slow, painful, and deadly.

It cleared the room.

Undeterred we were, because the next song was Purple City All-Stars' "Kryptonite." Somehow this, too, failed to connect, although we did see a couple of heads bobbing as they ducked out the door. Forced to take evasive action, Julie Kramer gonged our iPod after two songs. The horror. Meanwhile, the 18-year-old street teamer plugged in her own iPod, clicked in Presidents of the United States' "Peaches," and what was left of the room went bananas. Henry Santoro came by, looked in our direction, and shook his head. We stared, mystified, at the carnarge, then went to retrieve our pitiful little 40 gb slab of unhappiness.

What happened?, we asked the street-team girl. "You only had four songs on your playlist," she said. "And one of them was Beyonce." "But it was good Beyonce," OTD sniffed.


If our courage holds, or there is sufficient liquid fortification thereof, OTD will be back at Bill's with an entirely foolproof playlist this evening, on our way over to Certified Bananas. (It's a busy one tonight: did you know there's breakdancing at Wonderbar?)

LISTEN: Beyonce and Slim Thug, "Check On It" (mp3)
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