DJing my first 1000+ person event

Mid-week a friend of mine reached out and asked if I was free the upcoming Sunday. He was on the West coast for the month and needed a fill-in. “It’s for a fundraiser” he said, “plug and play, sound is already provided. You might need to do some light MCing though.” I’ve done a number of weddings so jumping on the mic is not foreign to me. Sunday gigs are also great since I’m usually free anyway. He didn’t know what the fundraiser was for, just at a college nearby. But at the end of the day it wasn’t going to really impact how I was going to prepare. I’ve got a number of setlists to reference last minute if I needed to switch gears, worst case scenario.

The morning of the event I do a little research and end up piecing together the charity given the college. It wasn’t just any fundraiser, it was in fact a 5k run for Crohn’s. The guy who plugged me in follows-up to ensure I’m all set. He sends me a photo of the stage I’ll be on, and “Oh by the way, it’s going to be in front of 1000-1500 people.” Damn son! Aright then well let’s do this.

The event is 4-7 pm with sound check at 3. I wanted to get there extra early to account for potential traffic and make sure I could find everything. Not only does it damper potential stress when you’ve given yourself plenty of time but the event staff and managers definitely appreciate it knowing they don’t have to worry if their DJ is going to show up.

I set myself up fairly quickly. As he mentioned it was indeed plug and play, just needed a fold-up table and my gear. I hooked right in with XLR cables, though I did need to dig out my TRS -> XLR adaptors. The sound crew had iPads and were able to control everything right there in their hands, pretty cool stuff. I throw on a busy, high energy track for sound check and we cranked it. Dammm the stage was rattling with bass! After setting our levels they have me put on a continuous mix until the show is ready to get going. I have about a full hour until game time. I spend a good portion of it creating a refined setlist now that I saw the venue setup and had a better idea of what I’d be playing to.

Shortly prior to kicking off a coordinator comes up and hands me two sheets of announcements consisting of shoutouts to their sponsors. This is about when they tell me it’s a 5k run/walk and not just a festival. Ahh, ok makes sense.

In the 45 minutes after we get going I sprinkle in their sponsor shoutouts. Leading up to the kickoff ceremony I throw in 10 & 5 minute warnings. Of course things run behind so in reality they got going with the ceremony fifteen minutes late. Not two minutes before it’s supposed to begin another individual comes up and asks I if I can host and coordinate the ceremony, in the process handing me a whole book of how it’s supposed to unfold…

Uhhh, no.

If you guys wanted me to host your entire ceremony you’d have had to at least given me a bit more notice than that. Not to mention I was hardly even familiar with the disease and had zero context on what was going on. Aside from being unprepared, it was just not a good idea all around. They go off and find someone else, by the time they get back I call everyone over.

Up until this point I was doing well in my announcements but finally I trip over my words. Straight blabbermouth. Blahhhh. Of course everyone heard me sound like an idiot. I knew because the entire field started walking over since I had announced we were about to begin the ceremony, in fluent PygLation.

Doh.

And holy crap it was a lot more people than I expected!

I hardly noticed at first since everyone was nestled off into tents, way off and scattered around the field. Their appointed host gets through the ceremony and we kick off the race. I scramble to find an appropriate song to launch with but ’This is what you came for’ by Calvin Harris was the best I could come up with. Once the race got started there was nobody left hanging around. Like, zombie-nation status. I decided at that point it was time to have a little fun with some easy going Disco House.

As folks get done trickling in another coordinator comes up and hands me the top three times for male and female. I announce the names as he handed out the medals. Since people were returning to the field in at such a slow pace the crowd never picks back up again. Everyone just left shortly after they were done walking/running.

I did have a few backup dancers just prior to closing up shop.

These three little girls just wanted to hear Ed Sheeran, and who was I to say no with no one else really around? I gave them a bunch of the free props that were left and sent them off happy as could be.

And just like that, my first thousand person event. Not nearly as bad as I might’ve thought!