Since it started in London back in 2010, Boiler Room has changed the face of dance music. Through genius marketing and use of social media, it’s given underground DJs who previously played to tens of people, an audience of millions. It’s provided the cream of underground dance music to everyone, no matter where you are in the world. All for free. It seems churlish to criticize, but I’m going to. Sure, I have seen a few great Boiler Room sets, and it’s introduced me to some amazing DJs and musicians I hadn’t heard before, like Francesco Tristano and SOPHIE. However, I’m going to come out and say it, most of Boiler Room is actually pretty boring.
Cult of the DJ
Firstly, the way the nights are filmed, with the camera fixed on the DJ, reinforce the cult of the DJ at the expense of the music. The music, and its effect on the crowd, is largely ignored. Boiler Room make their viewers think that the DJ is on a higher plane. A DJ is only as good as the music he or she plays. Boiler Room don’t publish the track lists from their sets, so you don’t even know what that music is.
Now, we need to talk about the Boiler Room crowd. I get it. DJs in general aren’t the most animated of folk. Most of the time you’re just watching a man in a black T-shirt, in the dark, pressing some buttons. It’s the crowd who should be providing the movement, yet most of the time they are looking bored as hell. They’re standing still and nodding, maybe dancing in a disinterested way. They know that they’re on view to millions. They’d rather look coolly detached rather than look like they’re actually having a good time. Does anyone actually go to clubs where the atmosphere resembles Boiler Room? No one would go twice, that’s for sure. If the crowd can’t get excited, what chance do we spectators have?
OK, I know that Boiler Room produces sets from a massive variety of genres. You’re not supposed to like them all. However, one thing unites pretty much every Boiler Room video ever made, everyone is miserable. The DJs and the crowd we’ve already touched on, but even the people watching at home are miserable. They snark on the comments boards about the DJ’s technique. They moan on Twitter about the song selection. It seems like a contest for who can enjoy something the least. However, what really gets people riled up is when someone does actually try to show people a good time. When Grimes threw in some Mariah and Taylor during her set, the socials went crazy. She was vilified and the show was taken offline. Unbelievable!
Lastly, there’s too much Boiler Room around. Every day there seems to be a new show on my YouTube feed, sometimes two. They go on for several hours, with 4 or 5 sets each. It’s impossible to watch all of it. So I don’t really watch any of it. If I want to watch a Boiler Room, I’ll just go back to one I’ve seen before, with a DJ I know. If they just made one or two a week, they’d have much more luck getting people to watch the new stuff, bringing more new underground music to the outside world.
So that’s why Boiler Room is boring. You’re probably thinking, sure Crossfadr man, no one’s got a gun to your head, just don’t watch it. The problem is, I have to. I’m an incurable dance music addict. If there is a new Boiler Room video, whether it’s Turkish Grime or Supermarket Techno, chances are I’m going to watch it. I have to hear the new sound. It’s my problem and I’m dealing with it, but thanks for letting me vent.