Living as a Mod in the 21st Century

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Day I Was The Opening Act For Eric Burdon & The Animals

When I was presented with the possibility of being the opening act for Eric Burdon & The Animals, I had to pinch myself. The hard part was going to convince the venue and the management that a couple of DJs on stage could be as entertaining as a live band. Not an easy task.

Let's be honest, the abilities of a Mod DJ doesn't rely on his technical prowess. It has mainly to do with his record collection, his ability to read a crowd and one often overlooked factor, his attitude. That all sounds good but when you have 1200 people sitting in front of you, waiting, you better put on a show. And that's exactly what I promised the people in charge I was going to do.

DJs opening for bands on stage is something that I have only recently started seeing on a regular basis. When I attended a Vintage Trouble concert, a few months ago, DJ Tom Papa Ray was on stage warming up the crowd with his mix of Blues, Soul and RnB. My DJ partner, Ben Shulman, recently did a wonderful job opening for Ronnie Spector.

Speaking of my mate Ben, we decided to team up for this one. We like to feed off of each other. We devised this plan a while back where we play 3 tracks each. One will cue the record while the other introduces the track. While one is selecting the next track, the other one dances like a mad man all over the stage. You know, a Sam & Dave type of thing.

This time was no different. Except I was determined to get the grey haired masses that composed 90% of the audience look like they had a pulse. I was going wild: screaming, dancing, hand clapping and making myself look like an amphetamine fuelled 60s Mod on a Saturday night at the Flamingo Club. I have to admit, I enjoyed every minute of our hour and half set.

Now, there's this little matter about the one and only Eric Burdon I must address. Full disclosure, I reviewed his show on this very blog a few years ago. You can read all about it here. In more than 140 posts, I only made one negative review and that was the one. I have a simple philosophy. If you don't like it, don't write about it. I made one exception to date. Now I was ready to give the man a second chance. This time was going to be different. I was going to be backstage.

First of all, our set-up was right after the band's soundcheck. I was rather disappointed to find out that Mister Burdon didn't even show up for it. In fact, he wasn't even present for a single second of our act. I asked the technical team where we should exit when we were finished. He told us that we could go backstage, pack our stuff and leave. We would have to go in the audience to watch the show because M. Burdon had given specific instructions to close the stage to anybody but the band. Are these commun practices? It might be for certain big names. But what do I know, I'm just a Mod DJ. 

I might seem overly sensitive but I don't remember a single time when a band I went to see didn't thank the opening act. There's a first for everything I guess. But I still kept an open mind. The man did once sing with Otis Redding after all. He did play a part in the British Invasion. My parents slow danced to House of the Rising Sun for crying out loud!

Sorry, it didn't get any better. I'll bet you the most expensive record I played that night that he didn't even know the city he was in. He thanked Canada at what point. And if you know the slightest thing about living in Quebec, thanking Canada is not necessarily your best move. He also gave the crowd the finger towards the end. I believe he did that to a women in the front row that insisted on giving him gifts. 

Alright, let's put aside a few faux-pas. How about his performance? Let me sum it up in one word. Crap. I'm sorry. The poor man didn't hit all his notes. The only saving grace was the keyboard player. I was quite impressed with him.

On a more positive note, my wife, my good friend Daniel, his girlfriend and I didn't have to pay for tickets. One more thing, the staff and crew at l'Olympia were phenomenal. You guys can have me back anytime!

If you want to hear part of my set, I invite you to check out a special Parka Avenue mix, right here on Mixcloud.