ACL Fest 2016: DJ Mel takes you to school

You spin DJ Kool’s “Let Me Clear My Throat” anywhere and it’ll work.

Austin’s DJ Mel did just that Saturday afternoon at the Tito’s tent. But wait… Is he beat-matching the Champs’ 1958 smash “Tequila,” then bleeding in the Ramones, Yung Joc, Jimmy Eat World, Lil Jon, and Bill Haley? Is dude actually scratching vinyl and chopping up a Nate Dogg sample?


“I thought this set ended at 5:45pm,” DJ Mel said at 5:45pm. “Let’s f*cking party.”

He killed his final 15 minutes with familiar Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, and Ginuwine tracks for the whole family. It was an inter-generational intersection that popped.

The Austin Music Awards Hall of Famer born Mel Sandico used his Austin City Limits gig as a post-war favor. He’s broken out big this year, opening for Barack Obama at South by Southwest. But he’s also a classical DJ who can read a room and toast to the art of the deal. Late in the set, DJ Mel hit a booty-centric sweet spot that stacked Juvenile, Bubba Sparkxxx, and Khia.

“Back in the day or whatever you had to make a commitment. You had to invest a lot of money and equipment and a lot of time looking for records,” DJ Mel told me back in March. “The whole EDM thing is something that was planted many, many, many years ago with underground parties and DJs… in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s with the underground raves. You’re seeing it come to fruition and [become] a mainstream thing. And I have no problem with it, and it benefits DJing in general. I remember back in the day when DJing was not a mainstream thing—now there’s indie rock dudes from like the early 2000s that are EDM dudes. But I think there’s this trickle-down effect for the greater good: It helps everyone else.”

Of course, he’s way too professional to diss ACL contemporaries like Flume and Diplo. But Saturday, dude took them to school.

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