A techno nerd reviews DJ Paris Hilton

A little over three years ago we sent inthemix contributor, chinstroker-approved DJ around town and techno nerd of “uncompromisingly high standards” Andrew Wowk to review the Australian tour of DJ Pauly D. Needless to say, he wasn’t particularly impressed with the Jersey Shore star’s set. So when hotel heiress and unlikely dance music mainstay Paris Hilton announced she’d be coming to Australia for a DJ tour of her own, we knew we had to recruit Andrew for round two. Herein lies his account of Hilton’s set – warts and all. 

Remember when in order to earn the right to call oneself a DJ, a person had to learn the craft first? They had to learn to mix, find music that set them apart from other DJs, and understand how to program a set. Thanks to Paris Hilton, any question of whether those days are over have been well-and-truly answered.

You may recall that I was less-than-kind to Pauly D when inthemix sent me to review his set. Well, for all the shots I took him, at least the guy learned to DJ – albeit to a mediocre standard – before he started playing out, and there was a certain level of self-awareness on his part of the sheer ridiculousness that a reality TV star was now playing sold-out DJ gigs based on his “fame” alone. Paris Hilton on the other hand, is deadly serious that this whole charade is legitimately about passion.

1:00am – As 1am rolled around, there was still no sign of the headliner and the majority of the crowd was starting to get restless, mostly standing around talking, showing no interest in the music the opening act were playing despite the fact it was aimed squarely at their tastes. It seemed like most people there just wanted to see Paris Hilton up close. She could have literally been doing anything and people would have swarmed to be within her presence.

1:30am – And then, at 1:30am the music stopped and the lights went down. “Oh God, this is really happening!” squealed a girl to my left. “Imagine if we can get in one of her selfies!” exclaimed her male friend. “I wonder what she’s wearing tonight!” chimed in another. Smoke filled the room, spotlights converged on the DJ booth, and then from behind a moving wall appeared dance music’s unofficial antichrist herself, bejewelled in a sparkly dress I could only assume was made from the skin of those who criticise her.

“It was like watching the world’s worst wedding DJ, without the cheesy tuxedo”

1:35am – It took a good five minutes for Paris to even play her first track. The silence didn’t matter to her: she was too busy taking selfies and power posing for her fans, looking upon them with this utterly disingenuous smile and pretending to be happy to see them. I remind you that this was the beginning of a DJ set. You’d think that someone who wants to be taken seriously as a DJ and has publicly expressed hurt feelings for being (fairly) criticised about her DJing would answer her critics by starting her set by…I don’t know…actually DJing.

1:36am – Paris starts DJing and her transitions sound like trains colliding with lame horses, as she desperately tries to beatmatch basic four-to-the-floor rhythms to no avail. It was in these moments that the more rational members of the crowd made themselves visible in a show of solidarity, shouting things like “What the hell are you doing?!” and “All the songs you are playing are the same tempo, how can you not mix them together?!”

1:45am – There were jarring changes of tempo, as she randomly chopped from noisy, aggressive mainstage EDM bangers to modern rap and back again, usually by just cutting one track and starting the next not even at the start of a bar. Often she would hit the sync button after finishing a mix, causing the track playing to fluctuate in pitch wildly as it desperately tried to catch up with the previous tune…which she had already faded out. It was like watching the world’s worst wedding DJ, without the cheesy tuxedo.

“Often she would hit the sync button after finishing a mix, causing the track playing to fluctuate in pitch wildly as it desperately tried to catch up with the previous tune”

And then there were the pre-made mashups. Oh god, the pre-made mashups. Everything from Wonderwall to Smells Like Teen Spirit was mashed with overplayed big room trash like Animals. And most of these mashups sounded like YouTube rips given how distorted and low quality they were.

2:00am – I watched as large parts of the crowd – even the Paris tragics – stopped dead on numerous occasions, unable to forgive her crimes against counting to four. The diehards of course eventually forgave her, because she took some selfies with them. One guy almost had an aneurysm when she grabbed his phone to take a photo of herself, not even with him in the frame.

2:06am – Paris donned a pair of sunglasses despite being in a dark room, stepping away from the decks to pose and recycle the same three basic dance moves which consisted of twirling lazily, raising her hands in the air and nodding at the crowd with the self-assurance of someone who knows they’re making bank for pressing play.

2:10am – Occasionally she jumped on the microphone to repeat the same few sentences over again: “Let’s party” and “I’ve been all over the world, and nobody parties harder than Sydney” (the latter felt like that scene from The Simpsons when Spinal Tap look at the back of their guitars to get Springfield’s name right). Hell, she even stopped the music entirely at one point to do the Mannequin Challenge. At 2:30 AM. In a packed club. And somehow, in many of those moments tracks still mixed themselves, transitioning even though she was nowhere near the decks.

The whole goddamn two-hour set – When she could be bothered to spend some time on the decks, Paris made sure she looked busy. She constantly checked the crossfader was centred despite never actually using it, twisted dials on her midi controller that weren’t actually mapped to do anything, and even on numerous occasions pretended to search for tunes on the CDJs despite the fact she wasn’t even using them.

She leaned forward and bent her elbows out like she was working the EQs harder than Derrick May. She constantly used the filters (maybe she has just discovered them and is still enjoying the novelty factor), often as a half-arsed way to try and hide the fact none of her mixes were even remotely in time. She would regularly forget to switch them back off for extended periods of time, resulting in drops with almost no bass or muddy, low-passed synths.

3:30am – Paris’ set finally came to a close, after two hours of abysmal track selection, even worse mixing, and a lot of posing for photos. As I left and headed back to my car with my friends I felt this strange emptiness. I didn’t feel that same “oh well, at least it was funny” sensation I felt as I left Pauly D’s set. None of us did. We just felt sad and confused. I apologise if this review wasn’t as humorous as you had hoped. It’s true, the Pauly D review was written with laughs in mind, but I couldn’t in good conscience do the same here.

But hey, at least she didn’t play Levels.

Andrew Wowk is a Sydney-based writer and DJ. You can argue with him on Twitter