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Though it seems like we’re constantly playing records out, Numero does not actively look for events to DJ. It’s not our primary focus, and we generally only do it as favors for friends. While we’re always flattered when someone asks us to DJ their wedding, we’d rather just drink the free booze and graze the spread.
In the midst of getting the semi-royal treatment at Wilco on Monday night, we paused for a moment to reflect on the three worst places we’ve been asked to DJ over the last six years.
3. Near North Montessori School Benefit
To preface: this happened prior to Numero being our full time gig, where any opportunity to promote the label or solidify contacts seemed like a good opportunity. It ended up being neither. Rob was doing phone sales at Groove Distribution and Ken was answering phones for the Red Ryder booking agency. With the kids of Red Ryder head-honcho Erik Selz enrolled at the school, our fate was sealed when a DJ was needed for their yearly benefit.
For openers, the gig was at the Chicago Yacht Club. This is pre-Yacht Rock, and there wasn’t a boat shoe or Doobie Brothers joke to be found. It was clear from the moment we arrived that we were the help. Surrounding us were hundreds of rich parents who had no interest in two dorks in their best evening wear playing obscure records. And judging by the near constant requests we had to “turn down the racket,” they probably would have been fine with no music at all.
2. Pitchfork 2007 After Party
Having been asked to spin in 2006 and getting free Tigers out the deal, Numero agreed to a follow up performance. The venue moved from a quaint little gallery six blocks from the festival to a 1200 capacity rock venue across town. The sponsor changed from a hip shoe company to a lame liquor company. Whatever, Scott and Chris from Pitchfork were old friends. A sponsor is a sponsor, money is money, and a spot is a spot. Or is it?
Upon our arrival, the venue seemed a little empty. Not to worry, we were told, it was early and people needed to make their way across town. After 1o hours at an outdoor festival, it seemed like a stretch. At 11pm we took the stage. A Sparks banner was draped across the front of the decks, we immediately realized that we had left our 45 adapters at home, and the five people in attendance were not impressed.
The venue was empty within the hour. Only a lone cocktail waitress remained, arms crossed in the back. She didn’t seem pleased.
Just two years after we threw open our doors, Jay Babcock and Arthur Magazine pronounced us “Label of the year.” Flattered, we had no trouble saying yes to being flown out to LA to DJ a “dance party” following the headliner of their Arthur Nights festival, Sun Ra. In the run up we met with Phil Gillin and locked down our Catherine Howe reissue. We caught a hushed Ruth Ann Friedman upstairs (check out her excellent Reprise LP that Water reissued) before being rushed into the wings for our impending set.
With Wayne Kramer noodling on guitar, Sun Ra ended. Master Jay & Michael Dee’s “T.S.O.B.” was queued up and ready to roll, headphones hung around our necks. We were gonna burn the place down. Instead, an obnoxious drag queen appeared and demanded we play tracks 1-5 from a Memorex branded CDR. Being the good sport the Numero Group is, we played along.
After treating us to several covers of songs with the word “cock” substituting where appropriate (including the unforgettable “Are You Aware I’m A Man” set to Grand Funk Railroad’s “We’re An American Band”), Jackie Beat chewed out the retarded DJs for not knowing how to properly queue up her songs. The crowd thinned significantly. She closed with this:
The time was 1AM, what was left of the audience was merely trying to escape. Beat mercifully exited the stage and the bass drum thump of “T.S.O.B.” began. Two minutes in, venue security pulled the plug for curfew.
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