The usually quiet seating area of the Grind Down erupted into blasting music and cheers on Feb. 1 as the Campus Activities Board hosted a concert-competition to pick the opening DJ act for this year’s Donaroo performance. The ultimate selection was Bisaria (real name Ani Bisaria), who is known for his saxophone infused beats.
Bisaria, a senior, also won the inaugural competition in 2015. He is known for incorporating saxophone solos into his sets, which he did in his final performance. When asked about what makes a good DJ, he cited track selection and talked about the different standards set to different types of DJs. All of the types of DJs he listed were on display; party and club DJs, who mixed big hits with electronic dance music to keep a crowd excited, as well as performance DJs, who are able to search for and create new sounds.
The musicians used a variety of samples in their mixes, including dialogue from the movie “Psycho,” the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams,” the “Stranger Things” theme and a selection from Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech.” DJ Saint Hills (real name Jaime dos Santos), one of the finalists, responded to the first round’s theme of “ethereal” by selecting dream-related samples from his childhood, using classic rock like “Dream On” and “California Dreamin.’”
The “vibe” of the night was very casual. Attendees floated in and out of the seating, some standing from far away to watch and tap their feet. Though the environment was certainly brighter and less excitable than an average club or music festival, the audience was still able to show their support for their favorite acts from their seats. If a DJ used a sample that the audience recognized, there would be a remarkably loud cheer from the crowd. Certain beats inspired people to get out of their seats to dance along, and a particularly dynamic performer would be rewarded with raucous shouts and applause. Though some audience members attended to support a specific DJ, many more simply were there to enjoy a night of music, often wandering over from the main cafeteria like moths to a flame.
The night’s second of three rounds was the clearest showcase of the sound that the artists were striving towards as their own. The master of ceremonies of the night, KUSF Production Director Dean William, stressed the autobiographical nature of these sets and applauded the artists for their intimate work. Even more casual dance music fans, however, were still able to enjoy a night of exciting and energetic beats.
The DJs who hoped to perform before the campus’ March 3 concert were judged by several prominent local DJs and USF students. Student DJs submitted a short questionnaire to the Campus Activities Board and ultimately six were able to perform for the judges and a sizable crowd. The competition had three rounds, with the performers creating a differently themed set for each round as more and more DJs were eliminated. The performers were judged in nine categories, including “crowd reaction,” “stage presence” and “vibe of performance.”
Featured Photo: Jed Diaz spins his vinyl records at CAB’s DJ Competition. HURSH KARKHANIS/FOGHORN