Back on Track: A California Quest to #Get3
This past month I had the opportunity to once again partner with US Soccer ahead of arguably one of the most pivotal matches of the last decade for the US Men’s National team. After a difficult start in World Cup Qualifying home in Columbus & abroad in Costa Rica, the US needed a win to sustain any hope of making it to Russia in 2018. With Bruce Arena now back at the helm as coach, the team needed to answer back with a win.
San Jose was that answer.
A resounding 6-0 victory was not met without adversity. San Jose was uncharacteristically cold, and heavy pre-match showers kept people huddled under tents, rather than out celebrating the matchday experience.
Rain put a distinct damper on my responsibilities, being that my main focus is adding that musical ambiance to FanHQ Experience directly outside the stadium. Pouring rain deterred even the biggest fans from fully checking out activations from PowerAde, Continental, and Coca Cola for a portion of the matchday lead-up. Regardless of the environment changes – we got some select tune time in before Mother Nature unleashed the rain, and it was a blast cutting it up for fans eagerly awaiting the stadium gates to open.
Our national team, by and large does NOT play games that are of lesser magnitude, so from a musical perspective, the approach to every experience is that each performance is an opportunity to one-up your contribution from the previous match. Here’s some of the big ideas I look to tackle at every USMNT Game I DJ.
1. Traffic Flow – What Activations am I placed next to? How would music for Powerade differ from Continental or Volpi?
Whether the brand is more traditional (food service or consumer product) or experimental (performance drink or athletic apparel) I often think a lot about how one brand would sonically present themselves to their general consumer audience. How would the ethos and mission statement of a company campaign manifest itself on the dance-floor and how would selected tunes embody that company’s intentions for that activation. These are just a few critical thinking prompts I use when selecting music.
2. How big is my audio support? Is the speaker build-out projecting over the entire #FanHQ?
Pretty obvious idea here, but depending on how big or powerful the audio set up is, I’ll often need to consider what part of the FanZone I’ll be reaching with my music – Depending on how large the area is, I may need to alter my music selections to tie in additional sponsors or activities in the immediate vicinity.
3. Where am I in the country? Who are we playing against?
Depending on what part of the states I am in – I like to feature regionally relevant artists and record labels from that part of the country – as well as taking a little bit of Chicago everywhere I go :)
4. What time of day is the match? At what point am I in the performance?
Traditionally my sets are the four hours leading up to kick-off, so tracking my time to reflect the highest energy tunes when the largest amount foot-traffic is in the fanzone is an important aspect to focus on during the gameday experience.
It was an honor to help soundtrack another big matchday experience for the USMNT - Here's to continuing to "make noise" in the qualifying rounds of the World Cup.