Over To You: How Do I Approach My First Ever Festival Gig?

Phil Morse | Read time: 2 mins
Club / Festivial DJing Playing festivals Pro
Last updated 11 April, 2018


Our beloved Glastonbury festival, outdoor partying UK style. However, don’t expect a warm-up set at a festival to be packed, and don’t try to do the job of the headliner.

Digital DJ Tips member Rodwell Ngwarai writes: “I am a bedroom DJ from Zimbabwe who has played a couple of house parties and two public performances. I recently entered and won an opportunity to open at one of the biggest music festivals. I love to mix deep house/tech house and dance. I am feeling very nervous because I have never performed for more than 10 to 20 people. Do you have any advice to give me about how to approach my playlist?”

Digital DJ Tips says:

Firstly, well done!

OK, so you’re going to have to check what gear you’re expected to use and be prepared for that, but I’m sure you’ve thought about that anyway, and your question was about playlists specifically, so let’s talk about that.

When you’re opening at a huge event like this, there’s really a very different dynamic to a small venue or house party. People are not really looking for mixing, or slowly building a journey to somewhere: It’s short, sharp. sweet. Mixing is kept very simple, and tune choices pretty conservative.

Now, while you can’t play all the big tunes of the moment (because the headliners will do that), playing stuff that’s familiar and that will get people smiling is really the key. Think big, bouncy, fun basslines, riffs people know, vocals they know, maybe a few half-forgottem classics: Anything to get the people arriving felling happy to be there, but without playing the tracks you know the headliners will want to.

I’m going to throw this one over to the readers, too, who I am sure have got lots of advice they can pass along as well.

So, how would you advise Rodwell? Have you recently warmed up at a huge venue or festival? What did you find worked or didn’t? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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