You have to go with the vibe of a song.
“You have to go with the vibe” is a saying that has been used for years and it’s true. You can’t control everything in life, but you can control how you feel about things.
FENWAY PARK IN BOSTON On Tuesday night, DJ Kahleil Blair peers down into the field at Fenway Park, waiting for the Boston Red Sox to face the Toronto Blue Jays. Blair, seated in front of a Mac with QLab software loaded with songs like Dua Lipa’s “Levitating” and Owl City’s “Fireflies,” as well as the drums from Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl,” monitors the action, looking for a certain play or a moment that inspires a soundtrack.
Throughout the game, Blair and John Carter, the president of Red Sox productions, debate what should be played over the stadium speakers. A fan had approached the booth earlier in the day and wanted Justin Bieber, so Blair queues up “STAY,” the pop superstar’s single with The Kid LAROI, between the second and third innings.
Carter fires a finger gun into the air as Red Sox right-hander Nathan Eovaldi strikes out Blue Jays DH Zack Collins to open the third inning, signaling Blair to play the “WOO WOO” strike out whistle. The wind howls through the Fenway Park control room, which is located on the fifth level behind home plate, on this April evening, while Carter, Blair, and public address announcer Henry Mahegan sit in the front row, covered in winter jackets. They keep the windows open from April to October, regardless of the weather, so they can hear what the crowd is saying.
Blair said, “You can’t plan everything out.” “You’ve got to go with the flow.”
There’s been a significant change in the atmosphere at Fenway Park. The electric guitar riff from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band’s “Glory Days” has been played before first pitch for more than a decade, but things are changing on Jersey Street.
For the first time in 15 years, the Red Sox were without a stadium DJ when TJ Connelly resigned his role after the 2020 season. Sarah McKenna, the team’s executive vice president of fan services and entertainment, kept asking herself the same question when looking for his successor.
“The beauty of Fenway Park is that it changes all the time while remaining the same,” McKenna added. “How do you keep faithful to the fabric while yet evolving?”
Springsteen’s gravelly voice can still be heard, along with other Fenway classics, but there’s also the sound of a new generation of Bostonians, with tunes by The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” BTS’ “Butter,” and Bad Bunny’s “DKITI.”
Blair, a local Boston DJ known as Maverik; Liv Dulong, a 2021 graduate of Suffolk University; and Jeff Jackson, known as DJ Action Jackson, are the Red Sox’s current DJs, who alternate during home games throughout the season. The trio trades playlists and brainstorms ways to make Fenway Park moving and, as a result, attract a younger, more diverse audience to Boston baseball games.
Fenway Park not only sounds different this season, but it also looks different. The Red Sox installed a new terrace at the top of the right-field bleachers, as well as new video boards and a television studio for pre- and post-game events, to the 521 Overlook event area.
During the 2021 season, as Fenway Park drew more and more spectators back, team personnel, fans, and media members became aware of the new noises. The shift in the soundtrack corresponded to a shift in the demography. Massachusetts became significantly more diverse from 2010 to 2020, according to US census data, with the white population falling from 76.1 percent to 67.6 percent due to growth in the Black, Latino, Asian, and multiracial populations. This shift is much more noticeable in the capital. Boston has become a majority-minority city with a burgeoning, diversified immigrant population, which played a significant part in the election of Michelle Wu, the city’s first woman, person of color, and Asian-American mayor.
The club needed to adapt to the changing face of the city, and the Red Sox anticipated that as the music played at Fenway Park became younger and more varied, so would the spectators, according to McKenna.
“We wanted Fenway to seem more alive, more diversified, and more present. Those were our two objectives “McKenna said. “We want it to be more welcoming and conducive to dancing. There are still folks that come to see a baseball game, so it’s about striking a balance.”
The hunt for new DJs was the beginning of finding that equilibrium. During the COVID-19 lockdown in the winter of 2020-2021, the team conducted interviews over Zoom, asking applicants what music they’d play in specific situations, such as a tie game against the New York Yankees in the bottom of the ninth inning, or a cold, rainy game in April with the Red Sox trailing.
“It’s about making it more interesting for younger people and making them want to attend to games,” Dulong said. “You’re not going to play the same music for a Sunday afternoon game as you would for a Friday night game. It’s due to the fact that the demographics are different. The team urged us to think about who would be attending the games and what type of music they would choose.”
We break down the best and worst of baseball’s current design fad, from the Sugar Kings to the Serpientes, the South Side to Wrigleyville. » Joon Lee
“We all joked that K-pop hadn’t been played at Fenway before [last] year,” Jackson said. “So we really concentrated on getting musicians like BTS, Blackpink, Super Junior, and other artists like that to Fenway that hadn’t been played before.” “Some of the older fans are protesting about playing Latin music on social media sites like Twitter, but such folks are old-school. They just do not comprehend. They’ve been trapped in the 1970s or 1980s for a long time. They claim we’re playing too much Latin music, but the players and the audience seem to like it.”
This will be what many youngsters growing up in a more diverse Boston associate with their childhood excursions to Red Sox games. It’s a crucial step in the progression of baseball, not just in Jackson, but throughout the nation, for Jackson.
Even if it doesn’t happen immediately.
“Change is difficult for people to accept, but it is necessary,” Jackson remarked. “Baseball is a changing sport, and if we don’t evolve with it, we’ll all be left behind. Our fan base will suffer as a result. It will not be beneficial to the city. There will be some growing pains as a result of changing with what’s going on in the city, but those growing pains will pay off in the long run.”
Old-school fans, though, need not be concerned: the weekly tradition of playing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” before the home half of the eighth inning will continue.
“In meetings, we’ve never once mentioned ‘Sweet Caroline,’” Carter remarked. “That song will still be playing if I fall down and Fenway Park goes down.”
The “red sox notes” is a blog that discusses the Boston Red Sox. The blog discusses different topics, but does not have any specific focus.
- boston red sox music playlist 2021
- red sox robyn dancing on my own
- boston red sox song
- fenway park tickets
- dancing on my own red sox twitter