Pittsburgh DJs prepare for battle at Thunderbird | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pittsburgh DJs prepare for battle at Thunderbird

click to enlarge Pete Cicero, aka DJ Petey C - PHOTO: CODY BAKER
Photo: Cody Baker
Pete Cicero, aka DJ Petey C
It’s no secret that the live music and service industry took a catastrophic blow over the last two years, with numerous Pittsburgh restaurants and performance venues closing their doors, both temporarily and indefinitely. In response, some sold merch to raise money for laid-off staff and industry workers. Others started GoFundMes to help alleviate bills following canceled jobs and gigs. Pete Cicero, aka DJ Petey C, decided to host a DJ battle.

“I was looking for something that would get people back to work and creating,” says Cicero, the brains behind the forthcoming Battlegories DJ Battle, set for Thu., June 16 at Thunderbird Café & Music Hall.

This year marks the second iteration of the battle, following a successful first run in 2021 where all the money made went directly into the pockets of those in the local service and performance community.

“Out of the money we made, we were able to pay the winning DJ (Arie Cole), all the competing DJs for their time, and were able to employ a sound crew, light crew, production crew, bartenders, the whole nine yards,” says Cicero. “I didn’t make a single dollar.” The remainder of the money, about $800, was donated to the Save Our Stages Act.

Cicero is hoping that the 2022 Battlegories DJ Battle will be bigger and better than ever, especially considering that last year’s event was limited to how many people could come due to the occupancy rules at the time.
click to enlarge DJ Femi - PHOTO: CODY BAKER
Photo: Cody Baker
DJ Femi
Starting promptly at 8 p.m. with an opening set from DJ Nugget at 7 p.m., the night will feature five “battlegories” selected by each competing DJ. DJ Climax, for example, chose “Soundtracks,” which, as Cicero explains, encompasses music from TV and music. “So that could be audio clips, opening scores, or theme songs, and how they can make it fun at a party,” he says. There’s also “Afrobeat,” selected by DJ Femi; “The Junk Drawer,” which Alex Rivera picked and where “anything goes” but three completely different genres must be played; and “Who Sampled?”, a pick from DJ B-Renn centering around sampled songs or tracks inspired by samples.

Last year’s Battlegory champion and returning competitor Arie Cole selected Twerk Sum, which Cicero says is open to perspective. “There’s traditional reggaeton music, and a lot of modern rap is considered twerk, so it's really up to the DJ to how they interpret it.”

Interpretation is the name of the Battlegory game. And at the end of the day, the event is about having fun, supporting the local performance and service industries, and allowing the diverse selection of DJs to do what feels natural to them.

“Ultimately, they're performing to a room of their peers, industry leaders, and fans,” says Cicero. “My whole thing to them is to focus on what speaks to you. They all have their personalities and styles, and DJing is an art form. I wanted that to come out … I really think that's the highlight reel of this event. The DJs picked the battlegories and they sort of dictated how it's going to go. It’s going to be really fun to watch all five of them take on ‘Soundtracks,’ for example, and take it all in completely different directions. That’s everything that DJing means to me.”
DJ Petey C Presents: Battlegories DJ Battle. 7 p.m. Thu., June 16. Thunderbird Café & Music Hall. 4053 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $20-25. 412djbattle.com

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