• http://expansivevision.com/ Devon Frohne

    sweet my Vitamindevo photo of the Dancetronauts!

  • http://www.facebook.com/inbituin Charles Angeles

    C2C has the best DJ show right now based on actual DJing skills, music, visuals and crowd interaction. Check this out http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h06_xnTVmFY

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.mitchell24 Joe Mitchell

    Feed Me’s staging is some of the best I’ve seen, the teeth with the visuals on them are amazing

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1466670043 Kenny Shucker

    i have a simple way of people remembering who i am. i’m just a bar/club DJ that doesn’t do anything extraordinary in my sets. i do wear some flashy clothes and it seems to have people remember me, just like the polish ambassador. it started off with these silver high top shoes from a company called Y-3.. people would see them and be like those are pretty cool.. then i decided to start wearing yellow pants with them.. now that it’s getting warmer out i have a dark blue and light blue thin striped v-neck i wear with the yellow pants and silver shoes.. none of the colors match at all, but each piece is stylish and i don’t look like a bum wearing it.. people like it. i’m the “DJ that wears crazy colors” now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1466670043 Kenny Shucker

      as much as i hate to have this name be typed across my keyboard, but DJ Blend of all people gave me the idea to have an appearance that stands out.. hate him (which i absolutely do) or not, his mask is what helped him to his fame. it seems that you can be the best local DJ around town now but since everybody wants to be a DJ since it’s the new trend, it’s harder to be noticed.

  • http://twitter.com/dionmavath Dion Mavath

    Very nice topic. There are so many DJs aroud, one shoud realy add a create and personal touch to do a memorable Live DJ show

  • http://twitter.com/NerdyByNumbers Lewis Nesbitt

    Very alternative article, different from the usual articles on DJTT and I liked it! Definatly one to look back on for tips *Archived*

  • http://djkento.com/ Kento

    this is what I’m using to set me apart from other djs visually…

  • I

    Who is Sara Simms anyway and how much $$$ does she make with her shows? Or is this charity? Wanna know real bad…

  • Anonymous

    fuck lighting. if you have money to spend, use it for better sound. give me dark rooms and good tunes over fancy shows any day.

  • captainsmackdown
  • http://www.mssngmrblz.com/ MssngMrblz

    Great article… very thorough. I’m from St. John’s and for my semi-monthly event I bought 3x 50″ plasmas directly behind the performer’s heads full of trippy visuals….and just that alone created such an intense vibe…. It was so worth the investment!

    I’m totally looking for an art director now …also hitting up a local fashion designer to drape some of her creations on some models for the next one…

    great ideas….very inspiring! THANKS SARA!

  • Jon Gilbert

    I really don’t like the article ending with “it’s highly recommended you find a sponsor” and NO TIPS ON HOW TO DO SO.

  • idontgetit

    ummm….really? who is this for? has everything become an american idol tryout??

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.satchel.3 Mike Satchel

    You can always scratch with your dick like bad boy bill

  • http://www.facebook.com/mike.satchel.3 Mike Satchel

    You can always scratch with your dick like bad boy bill

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1421799050 Andreas Bührer

    Chemical Brothers… one of the most epic sound video and light show :D

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1421799050 Andreas Bührer

    Chemical Brothers… one of the most epic sound video and light show :D

  • zykill

    Check out the Turntablist-Collective C2C. They use CunTROLLERS too. But unlike a lot of pseudo-acting-like-they-do-something-even-though-they-dont-do-shit-CunTROLLERmisfits, they acutally got skills on the production-tip and skillwise on thet turns and the CunTROLLERs

  • zykill

    Check out the Turntablist-Collective C2C. They use CunTROLLERS too. But unlike a lot of pseudo-acting-like-they-do-something-even-though-they-dont-do-shit-CunTROLLERmisfits, they acutally got skills on the production-tip and skillwise on thet turns and the CunTROLLERs

  • DJ_ForcedHand

    I really like how DJTT is stepping up the formatting and information provided in the articles now. This is a really clean, informative article. The only thing I could ask for is a little bit more about what it actually takes (the real work) to get these things to happen.

  • DJ_ForcedHand

    I really like how DJTT is stepping up the formatting and information provided in the articles now. This is a really clean, informative article. The only thing I could ask for is a little bit more about what it actually takes (the real work) to get these things to happen.

  • DJ CNTRL

    Sara, cheers on the article. I think it is important for a DJ to put on a show when he or she is showcasing technical skills. The DJ Shadow vidoe is case an point. However, I think it’s short-sighted to say DJs have to differentiate themselves though showmanship. Most of the examples that you list are DJs who do very technical things (Kid Koala, Glitch Mob, et al). Many DJs (I guess those of us in out late 20′s and 30′s) who are professionals in the game still see what we do as leading a party and not taking center stage–that is unless we are being technical which requires observance. Most of the time (and like I said this if my perspective, from my scene, not mahor festivals or the super-trendy dance circuits) want a DJ to throw down and make them dance. The visuals, stage props, and all glitter do not matter. It ain’t gold if the musc buy itself doesn’t have the soul to move folks on the dancefloor. If the role of the DJ is evolving into showman/rockstar/whatever for the majority of EDM culture, then mybe we should change the name of what they are as just and “EDM performer” or EDM technologist” of some clever term. What do you think? Because I think many DJs would consider a formal show as antithetical to their craft.

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      Hi DJ CNTRL, thanks for your kind words. I think there’s many types of DJs out there – some may be interested in showbiz, some not. Many great DJs will prefer to focus more on doing what they do best – mixing and scratching amazing tracks. Other DJs may be interested in becoming performers, as big opportunities are starting to develop for EDM artists around the world. This article is meant to inspire people who would like to create a stage show to enhance their music and create a bit of magic! :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      Hi DJ CNTRL, thanks for your kind words. I think there’s many types of DJs out there – some may be interested in showbiz, some not. Many great DJs will prefer to focus more on doing what they do best – mixing and scratching amazing tracks. Other DJs may be interested in becoming performers, as big opportunities are starting to develop for EDM artists around the world. This article is meant to inspire people who would like to create a stage show to enhance their music and create a bit of magic! :)

      • DJ CNTRL

        I still think they should be called “EDM performers” or some other title, as the concept of showmanship is not inherent to what the vast majority of DJs do. I understand the reason for the article–and it’s a good one–I just think I speak for many of s who want to focus on the music. The idea of watching being as important as dancing is strange but hey, I guess I will quote James Murphy here and say for many of us DJ’s, “the kids are coming up from behind”, and a generation raised with screens and blinking lights want that to be associated with a dance music experience….ce la vie.

        Well, I am off to DJ a roof-top party for me an some friends. No lights, just sound and hopefully feet moving. Hopefully the roof won’t collapse!

  • http://twitter.com/Lylax_Dubs Lylax

    This is a great article……but sometimes people are not going to a stadium for a show…..they are going to a location that is made for the music. deep dubstep as in DMZ, TRUTH, MALA, all dont need flashy light shows or a projector behind them…..its all about the bass, the sound, the deep vibes…….the MUSIC.

  • John Doe

    Gone are the days when great DJs cared only about giving people the music they need; the music that empowered and inspired them, producing sounds to make people happy. Now, it’s about consuming music for gratification. Not surprising that the crowds are getting bored – now we “need” VJs, ridiculous lighting setups and other things just to get the listener (consumer)’s attention. It’s not about the music anymore – it’s about hype, fame, money, and bragging rights. We don’t need all of this additional stuff. We need a change in attitude. It’s about the MUSIC. Capitalism and competition has turned listeners into consumers, and is distorting the role of the DJ.

    • Damien G

      regretably, you’re right. the world keeps evolving and nothing ever stays the same. Every generation (not just people, trends, products, etc.) are expected to be _____-ER than the last one. bigger, badder, faster, scarier, funnier, brighter, you name it, and to a greater degree.

      Also gone are the days of a DJ meaning someone who plays records one after the other. Evolve or get left behind.

      It’s interesting to watch the reactions to people and the realizations slowly creep in that what we are doing is not the definition of a classic DJ. The lines between jukebox and musician are more and more blurred every day. We are sound collage artists and digital musicians, not DJs on a radio station or solely at a wedding/similar event.

      • Fiderman

        I like that: “Evolve or get left behind”. So many issues with turntablist, cdj’ers and controllerist judging each other. Technology is evolving and so is DJing. Adapt or die. Simply a matter of survival.

        • http://twitter.com/NerdyByNumbers Lewis Nesbitt

          I wish people would recognise this, I respect turntablists and CDJers alot, they are the history and the base to DJs… but the future is coming whether they like it or not, its not a case of an alternative, its just the evolution of technology.

          Television became HD, vinyl became CDs and no decks become controllers. Its not my fault it happens but why should i suffer in my pocked and in my creativity because some guy with CDJs doesnt like that I can do as good a job as him, same amount of effort, expect on a smaller,cheaper system? Am I right or am i being to negative?

          • Fiderman

            Nothing negative about it. I only see facts. I used to use CDJ’s, then moved onto serato. Now I am on my traktor kontrol s2. Convenience and versatility.

    • Thunderdrum

      Well said man!!

  • Rooshdy

    Acts like Ritchie Hawtin, S/H/M, Calvin Harris, Justice, Aphex Twin, on and on are acts not so much DJs anymore, they have a team of people to orginize shows for them and make them look good on big stages, thats what they pay for.
    For example: the Slam tent at T in the Park , Scotland, usually has a solid line up of techno or house djs, a jackathon if you will; If I spend my time watching the screens and not dancing, somthing is VERY VERY VERY wrong. I’m all for lazers and lights and some cool graphics on a screen, but seriously leave the cannons, the flares , the foam at the circus where it belongs. If you need smoke and mirrors that much, your not much of a dj. People want you to rock the house not mess around with DVDs, light controllers etc, that is another guys job. in fact leave it to the bands IMO.

    • tr4gik

      ” but seriously leave the cannons, the flares , the foam at the circus where it belongs” – AMEN.

  • http://www.facebook.com/carter.sullivanirwin Carter Sullivan-Irwin

    I just starting working as a VJ in the past 6 months and honestly my best advice to anyone trying to make a custom show is to hire someone to make custom themed visuals for your event, and cut back on physical sets and props.

    With video I can make a room feel like you’re inside a bubble with projection on two walls and the ceiling. For $250 you can pick up a bright (3k Lumens), 800×600 native resolution projector. At 30 ft it will fill up most of a 30′x30′ wall with with an image, or multiple images, and allow you to transform a static shape into a moving thing. I am currently working on a space show for my chillout DJ work where my projection rig makes you feel like you are floating and flying through space, seeing planets being born and stars going supernova which was inspired by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos. All of my work is being done in Adobe Flash and Adobe After Effects CS5, with adobe illustrator to make visual assets.

    • DJ_ForcedHand

      I’d suggest looking into projection software like Resolume to map your images to almost anything… you can even map them to moving things (if done correctly). Also, if you have skrim (or even a proper screen), you can do rear-projection so you don’t have your projector on the same side of the projection surface as your audience (who will typically mess with the images with hand puppets). I’m available if you’re interested.

      • http://www.facebook.com/carter.sullivanirwin Carter Sullivan-Irwin

        I use Resolume Arena for my main screen and an iPad running TouchViz for the others. I live breathe and die by resolume. I’ve tried VDMX and a few others but Resolume is my favorite by far.

      • http://www.facebook.com/carter.sullivanirwin Carter Sullivan-Irwin

        I use Resolume Arena for my main screen and an iPad running TouchViz for the others. I live breathe and die by resolume. I’ve tried VDMX and a few others but Resolume is my favorite by far.

    • DJ_ForcedHand

      I’d suggest looking into projection software like Resolume to map your images to almost anything… you can even map them to moving things (if done correctly). Also, if you have skrim (or even a proper screen), you can do rear-projection so you don’t have your projector on the same side of the projection surface as your audience (who will typically mess with the images with hand puppets). I’m available if you’re interested.

  • New at the Zoo

    I feel the importance of a visual show depends on how fun/boring you are to watch. You can be an amazing dj, but if you don’t look like you’re having any fun doing it, it’s going to be hard to watch you. If you’re dancing, smiling, pointing at people that are in that moment with and having a brief connection, I think a visual show could actually take away from a more intimate connection with the audience. I live for those moments and would hate to lose them because the crowd was too stimulated by a light show…

  • DJ_ForcedHand

    This is very interesting as I have been making “Scenic” props and environments (sometimes referred to as “Installations”) professionally for about 3 years (with a lot more years in A/V Tech and Carpentry).

    As a word of caution, I think it’s important for people who want to try their hand at this kind of thing to know it’s expensive to go big, bright, and fancy, and it takes a lot of time to; (architecturally) design, build, make elements work the way you want and figuring out how and when things need to happen, but it’s also a headache to deal with transportation, set-up, and troubleshooting/logistics (for things like “How do I replace a light in the middle of the array way up there?” and “How to I make sure I have enough fog for the fog machines when they’re way up there on the truss?” or even mundane things like “How to make sure I have enough power for all of these elements?” or “How do I get all the elements of this installation into the space I’m playing?”… these are non-trivial concerns).

    If you’re doing this on your own, make sure you have the space to build, the money for each piece and plenty of time to do so… most people think “Oh, this will only take a few hours to build and cost only a few bucks.” I know from first-hand experience that a DJ rig like the giant Pyramid takes several weeks (somewhere around 4-6) by professional scenery builders and the cost is typically over $3,000 – $15,000 (depending on complexity and urgency of the completed installation) but a Scenic company will charge much more to build them (Typically $5,000 – $25,000, but can be much, much more expensive). And then, what do you do with the elements when your night is done? Leaving it there is essentially littering so you should plan for removing the installation after the event is done unless the establishment wants it there, storing the elements will require a strike team, a truck and a storage unit. It’s best to start small and build your way up to bigger elements mainly
    because small things are less expensive and are generally more
    portable/disposable, just like making your own D.I.Y. entertainment space.

    I’m glad people are interested in making their own scenery and props, but I think it’s really important to think about the whole project, not just about the “fun parts.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/carter.sullivanirwin Carter Sullivan-Irwin

      I’ve been a lighting designer for 6 years, and involved in theater for 8 now. I’ve worked hundreds of different events, and I cannot agree with you more. The biggest headaches for me are when people have a vison but no understanding of how complex their ideas are technically.

      • DJ_ForcedHand

        If there’s one thing I could impart on the people planning to coordinate teams is this: “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, practice and communicate with every member of the team to make sure all the planned changes happen when they’re supposed to.”

        The person calling the shots is typically called a “Show or Floor Director.” A
        Director (typically) has the entire show planned out with all changes
        and warns specific operators that a change is coming BEFORE the change
        needs to happen, and talks these operators through each change (when it happens) for the ENTIRE show through two-way, real-time, communication. Typically the pros use a ClearCom (or
        something like it) headset. Practice is key to an event’s
        success. Do dry runs until the team gets it at least acceptable. This is how lights, video, dance moves, and fog coordinate with
        each other to trigger at specific moment in a song… and for how long.

        We (the operators) are not mind-readers and it’s hard to “wing it” if we don’t get clear instructions. “Winging it” is always sloppier than coordinated events.

      • DJ_ForcedHand

        If there’s one thing I could impart on the people planning to coordinate teams is this: “PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, practice and communicate with every member of the team to make sure all the planned changes happen when they’re supposed to.”

        The person calling the shots is typically called a “Show or Floor Director.” A
        Director (typically) has the entire show planned out with all changes
        and warns specific operators that a change is coming BEFORE the change
        needs to happen, and talks these operators through each change (when it happens) for the ENTIRE show through two-way, real-time, communication. Typically the pros use a ClearCom (or
        something like it) headset. Practice is key to an event’s
        success. Do dry runs until the team gets it at least acceptable. This is how lights, video, dance moves, and fog coordinate with
        each other to trigger at specific moment in a song… and for how long.

        We (the operators) are not mind-readers and it’s hard to “wing it” if we don’t get clear instructions. “Winging it” is always sloppier than coordinated events.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mandingo.heegardo Max Heegard

    Why did I never think to watch Richie Hawtin youtube clips until now??

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      He’s a master! We can all learn from him.

  • http://twitter.com/plinders Peter Linders

    Love how you’ve given examples for each of your points!

    What might be cool to put yourself as a DJ more in the spotlight would be using something like this: http://www.amazon.com/LEDwholesalers-Controller-2034RGB-3315-3215/dp/B0040FJ27S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368036907&sr=8-1&keywords=led+strip

    Make a sort of suit using those LEDs and some double-backed tape, plug it in, and change the colours depending on the mood of the track.

  • Ray

    Bassnectar is by far the best show I’ve seen. I’ve seen him multiple times and have not once been bored or thought to myself “not this song again”. His stage presence, visuals, energy EVERYTHING about his show is amazing

    • Dan White

      I can vouch for this – seen him 5 times now, each time was different – especially from a selection perspective.

  • HBtt

    M_NUS Contakt at Amsterdam was one of the most epic shows I’ve been to !
    I still got that Contakt card that communicates with the Cube.

  • http://twitter.com/LatestArtists Andrew+Deb O’Malley

    Aside from the body tricks and costuming, all those shows take entire teams of creatives and technicians (sometimes also corporate sponsorship) to put together . . . inspiring for sure , but pretty out of reach to those just starting. Few people staring out are give the opportunities (venues, timeslots, etc.) to mount such shows, nor have the capital investment to develop them behind the scenes and just suddenly launch them out there. It should be noted that most of those examples were developed incrementally over the course of those artists’ careers. Also w/ vj’ing, most of the time you’ll need to bring and set up your own projector(s) as well . . .

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      Hey Andrew! You will gain experience, opportunities and strength as you progress in your DJ career. Yes, you need to put together a team for a show. It is a lot of work! You can still make something cool even if you don’t have a big budget. You need to use your creativity, and be resourceful. (No matter what type of budget you are working with) :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/chrispop.christianbeermann Chrispop Christian Beermann

    i don’t want to sound like the old, niche-music palying fart that i obviously am, but seriously, what happened to going to a CLUB for the dj and – even more important – the music? if i want a spectacle, a spaceship on a stage, props, makeup, costumes (…) i go and see starlight express…

    • http://twitter.com/djrobticho DJ Rob Ticho,Club mU

      I hear you buddy. I understand the DJ as a stage show. It makes a lot of sense for larger name acts playing stadiums and festivals. Even for smaller shows it can be cool.

      I think a lot of people don’t realize that there is a whole other model of hosting successful shows in which the music and the people are the most important part.

      The best shows I’ve been to were not based on everyone staring at the DJ god in some LED booth. These shows were focused on the dance floor and people interacted with one another. It’s more about a sense of community in the club than a scene in which the DJ is the center of entertainment and the crowd are the consumers.

      If you want to add an interactive element to your show, I’d say focus on the most interactive element at the show…the people.

      • http://twitter.com/djrobticho DJ Rob Ticho,Club mU

        With that said, this article certainly provides some great tips for those trying to create a stage show experience.

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      There’s certainly something to be said for ‘minimal’ events- when you go to see a DJ play, close your eyes, and just listen to the music. There’s also something to be said for being inspired to create something magical for your audience, and combining together a variety of art forms to make something new…

    • Owen

      Agreed, its pretty hard to improve on a dark room with a huge well tuned system and a DJ that knows how to read a crowd and guide them through the night.

      Sure other things can help enhance the experience. Visionquest’s 13 series of nights sounds like it could be good. Enter at Space was amazing but these are tastefully done and the focus is on the music and the way the audience interacts with the space.

      We have had enough of the spaceships masks and cake throwing

    • http://twitter.com/NerdyByNumbers Lewis Nesbitt

      If you go to clubs with big name djs, Like in ibiza, most of them have a rather simple set up. Armin Van Buuern’s set up of 2011 was just big LED screens showing any vocal artists he had playing on his decks appear to be singing behind him and that was it. No spaceships or explosions or flares or spotlights. Hes a million dollar man and he kept it relatively simple!

      Case in point, David Guetta, talentless man in his djing values and his questionable ability, he HAS to have a big huge show of dancers, burlesque performers naked women, explosions, more women etc…. Kinda maybe puts it into perspective.

    • http://twitter.com/damagedaniel Daniel Damage

      This is kind of the idea behind the Boiler Room project, no? A webcam, a DJ, a sound system, and some people. There’s nothing to distract from the music! It’s great.

  • spliffa54

    I like this article a lot, mainly the idea of theming shows, because that still grants the low attention span audience the chance to hear “that track” but also for the people paying attention the whole time its still a journey and has meaning. I live in denver and Sub.mission is probably the biggest label out here. I like the fact that they go out of there way to make the venue look like a setting, i.e. at bass invasion the dj booths were surrounded with sand bags and cages with army netting. this also lets the dj focus more on the music i feel which is beneficial to everyone. other promoters need to take note

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      The Sub.mission parties sound like they have a unique concept! Has anyone else seen great shows, or been to themed DJ-events that they’d like to share with us?

      • DJ_ForcedHand

        I’ve been to (and taken part of) themed DJ nights, but they were nothing like your show, Sara (as seen on your videos). I’ve tried (many times) to give the full “Moulin Rouge” night, but it’s very difficult to make that happen here. I’d consider getting my Passport renewed and flying my gear to Canada just to play a bit part with your crew as it seems less painful than trying to get something working here.

        • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

          Thanks DJ ForcedHand. Putting on shows is probably just as challenging in Canada as it would be in any part of the world. :) It just takes a little effort, that’s all!

  • KIO

    “What DJ and producer live shows have you seen that have been made more memorable due to a great live show?”

    I went to the first ever white edition of Sensation in the Amsterdam Arena. It was the first time when everyone was dressed white and the whole décor was white as well. It still is the most spectacular event I visited, closely followed by a concert of Rammstein little over a year ago.
    This year I’ll go to Sensation again and expect an even bigger show this time. Then again, it is rather easy to put on a great show if you have a few million Euro to spend on it.

  • http://www.ali.dj Hedgehog

    Very nice article. When it comes to body-tricks nothing beats DJ David’s handstand from the DMC World Championship 1991. http://youtu.be/39BEkgkCX-c?t=5m49s

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      I thought the handstand was really impressive too. :)

  • steve

    lovin this, lots to get inspired by! think i’m gonna plan out a new show that will amaze this weekend!

    • http://www.facebook.com/miss.sara.simms Sara Simms

      Cool, post up a video in the forum of your show afterwards! Here’s the video from my last show, if you’d like to check it out. It’s superhero DJ show, featuring the characters from my new graphic novel series The Future Prophecy. http://youtu.be/Kqi8wqJezxg

      • DJ_ForcedHand

        I love how you used a fan to not only look cool (with the flowing cape) but you remained cool during the show because you had that fan on you. Keep it up! I’d be a Villain playing Villain music though.

      • DJ_ForcedHand

        I love how you used a fan to not only look cool (with the flowing cape) but you remained cool during the show because you had that fan on you. Keep it up! I’d be a Villain playing Villain music though.

      • Jose’ Lara

        I really enjoyed the video for your show, Sara! Waves of nostalgia for the parties we used to throw in the early 90′s when everyone came in costumes to sweat their asses off on the dance floor!

        • Sara Simms

          Thanks for checking it out Jose, glad you enjoyed the video! I’ll have another video out for you soon… :)

          • Jose’ Lara

            Right on! Looking forward to it.