View From The Side: Ricardo Villalobos – When The Mighty Fall…


This week Ricardo Villalobos has the dubious pleasure of being the internet’s No #1 rave villain of choice. Whilst he’s got a long ladder to climb before he comes close to the kind of public, career-ending drubbing Ten ‘closet’ Walls just saw, he has still dealt with an outpouring of scorn and insult that’s veered from the funny to the plain old dumb.

Here’s his crime – and don’t worry if you can’t be bothered to watch it all, we’ll be summarising afterwards:

So there we have Villalobos playing at this weekend’s Cocoon Festival in Leeds. And a lot of punters at Cocoon weren’t pleased. So much so that they took to the event’s facebook wall to vent their frustration at a set they thought was very, very boring. And then, on this video emerging, it’s become patently obvious that he’s completely and totally off his bollocks. Check the moment round 9.36. If that’s not someone handing him a wrap of some sort, then I’m not lying on my tax returns. I love how the camera artfully pans to the audience about 30 seconds later. What’s Ricardo doing then? Who knows eh?

But look, I reckon you should watch the video and focus on something. Villalobos is almost certainly spangled. He’s gone and got up in front of thousands upon thousands of people, apparently rushing his tits off – and at the very least liver-rottingly drunk, and, in this video at least, not clanged a single fucking mix. The man’s largely playing off vinyl, so no beat-counting, and no sync button, in short; no safety net. And he’s just gone and done it like a boss. Look at him, he’s barely even cognitive of what record’s what, then he rolls over to the mixer and bam, drops another kick, near perfectly. If you don’t like his tunes, fine, don’t like them – to be honest I’ve never been a big minimal fan, so I understand. But come on, can we not just admire the chutzpah on display? Have you ever tried to play when you’re that nutted? Considering the amount of people who regularly flock to forums to drone on about the evils of ‘spacebar’ DJing, you’d think there’d be hordes of people giving Ricardo some love for this – not only is he a pro, he’s a pro when he can barely stand up straight.

OK, fair enough, it’s a bit more nuanced than that. There have been people complaining about him playing long mixes, or the tracks being too minimal or whatever – but isn’t that complaining about the rain being wet? I think the biggest crime on show here is that he’s clearly losing the audience and doesn’t seem to be trying to bridge the gap – I always thought that DJing should be a conversation between artist and audience, and this is, to be fair, coming across a bit more like one bloke mumbling in the corner at a party while no listens, but c’mon, it’s not actually that bad. I also can’t help thinking that it’s no great harm if the punters at Cocoon have a couple of hours of tunes they may not be familiar with. What’s the worst that can happen? They might end up liking something that isn’t on Shazam?

And for the people who feel compelled to go onto facebook and bleat, like this charmer, that they “don’t know who fucked me off more Villalobos or Sven Vath’s horrible mincer of a brother …“ Is this what you want from life? To spend your few fleeting moments on Earth moaning because your sense of entitlement has been offended? Moaning, because essentially, what you really want is to wifi your shitty iPhone playlist into the Cocoon soundsystem and treat the festival like a huge stationary Uber?

Basically, can we just reign in on the sense of artifical outrage? If, by all accounts Vath and Coxy delivered what all of the Cocoon punters wanted, why not just give em some love, and move on. I’m not advocating for blind acceptance of bullshit, but the level of grief Villalobos was getting (and I’d include the Facebook thread, but Cocoon have since deleted it) just seems a touch like whinging for whinging’s sake. Personally I don’t see a problem with a DJ doing what they do and not giving too much of a toss, even if that includes dancing like a loosely strung puppet- in fact given the alternative – a fist pumping cake-chucker, I’ll take the mincer any day.