ON THE SESH Investigates: The rise of the DJ tribute act

Musicians and bands have been around since the dawn of time. However, it was only in the early nineties that we started to see a sharp increase in the ‘tribute band’.

The concept of the tribute artist or band is relatively straight forward. A group of unknown musicians get together and perform the songs of a specific well known band, most often within a dingy pub.

Quite often these bands have quirky and humorous variations of the famous bands name. Think Oasis covers being performed by a band known as No Way Sis. Or “Bat Out Of Hell” being belted out by someone who goes by the name of Pete Loaf.

Recently, we have started to see a crossover into the dance world, where budding unknown DJ’s are starting to make a name for themselves as world renowned tribute act DJ’s, so we sent On The Sesh’s roving reporter; Trevor Fuckwit along to investigate.

Tribute bands and artists have been around for a while now, so much so that there now even festivals such as Fake Festival and Glastonbudget which solely feature tribute acts. But what about the dance world.


I met up with two friends; Steve and Andy, who by day work in the building industry. However at night, they become Pebblehead & Bus Station; the UK’s leading Stoneface & Terminal tribute act.

”The concept came about two years ago, both me and Steve wanted to be world famous superstar DJ’s after watching Kevin & Perry Go Large on Comedy Central,so we rushed out and bought some Denon CDJ’s from a car boot sale. After literally weeks of practising we decided we were ready and sent our mixes off to the Ministry of Sound, Luminosity, Gatecrasher and Smash Yer Granny in Lowestoft, but we didn’t get replies, let alone any booking. Disheartened, we stumbled on the idea that if we couldn’t be superstar DJ’s, why don’t we pretend to be superstar DJ’s, and this is where Pebblehead & Bus Station was born, two years later were getting bookings at all the top working men’s clubs in the Widnes area and have even been as far as Hunstanton”

Of course Andy and Steve, sorry; Pebblehead & Bus Station aren’t just mimicking the DJ’s whilst up on stage, they are also producing the tracks of Stoneface & Terminal too; on a 1997 version of Apple’s Garage Band.

Steve reels off the tribute tracks too; “we’ve covered Blueprint but called it Redprint, to get round any copyright infringement, we also sampled an Oboe for the rift so as not to get sued” Redprint peaked in the Beatport chart at 4,569.

Although they haven’t quite hit the heady heights of Luminosity, they have been booked to play the equally popular outdoor event; St Chads Primary School Summer Fete in Leamington Spa this May, as well as going on a week long tour of the Kirkcaldy working men’s clubs, which is scheduled for early September.

A few weeks after meeting Pebblehead & Bus Station, I’m invited to the Gypsy Queen pub situated on the edge of a Sheffield retail park, for their monthly DJ Tribute Act night.

The pub is part of the Hungry Horse chain, and is popular amongst Stella Artois consuming and leopard print clad revellers with very few teeth.

The pubs duty manager; Dave explains to me that about a year ago and in a change to the usual Kylie Minogue and Bruce Springsteen tribute acts that he was booking, he took a punt on a DJ tribute act called Small Paul & Seb Fondue B2B.

They went down a storm with the regulars as they played The Vengaboys; Boom Boom Boom, Sash’s Encore Une Fois and ATM’s Till I Come, so I thought, why not book more DJ tribute acts?, I mean, the first thing that the average punter does when they see a tribute act, is look to see if the person on stage looks like the person they are trying to imitate, so if you’ve paid to come and see Chris Rear, you want him to look, as well as sound like the real Chris Rea, rather than some ugly looking bloke who works as a scaffolder during the day. The beauty of booking a tribute DJ act is that none of my punters actually know what the real DJ’s look like…the lot that I get in here on a weekend haven’t heard of Google yet, plus all DJ’s are ugly, why else would they only work at night in dark rooms if they didn’t have a face that would make a baby cry?”

Dave takes me backstage (the cleaning cupboard) to meet the tribute DJ acts on tonight.

Here I am introduced to Ashley Camel, who just like his more famous namesake; Ashley Casselle did for Paul Van Dyk’s six hour sets at Gatecrasher, will be warming up the proceedings once they’ve stopped showing football on the big screen.

Also backstage is dance music pioneer and man mountain; Karl Cocks, real name Jonathan who assures me that he’ll be dropping some techno when he goes on at 11pm.

As the event starts to get into full swing, I venture out to chat to a few revellers about the DJ tribute act scene. I instantly meet a woman by the name of Pauline. Pauline is out enjoying the music while her four kids sit at a table in the corner, all sharing an iPad, a fruit shoot and grab bag of McCoy’s crisps for entertainment.

Pauline explains to me that she’s brought her kids down as their nana couldn’t babysit, and there was no way she was missing seeing the cult hero of the DJ tribute act circuit; Pete Pong.

Pete Pong is the the one that everyone seems to be talking about and is famous for shouting “it’s all going Pete Pong” and then farting loudly down the mic. Every trouser raspberry is met with wall of cheering as the fart echoes around the room. It is reminiscent of smoke cannons in the Ibizan superclub; Amnesia.

Also on the line up is Deidre Bust, who like the 90’s DJ; Jon Pleased Wimmin, is a cross-dressing DJ, but Deidre Bust is a tribute act to Scottish trance DJ; David Rust. Deidre’s real name is Barbra and she is Buckfast dependent, just like the real life David Rust, and every other member of Scotland’s population above the age of 9.

The whole evening is compèred by the wonderfully hideous looking host; Wayne Boyle, a man with a Susan Boyle wig, dressed like a pantomime dame and has enough horse tranquilliser in his back pocket to immobilise a blue whale. His job is to whip the crowd up between each act, by rambling incoherently, gurning uncontrollably and defecating himself, much to the amusement of the crowd.

The following night I am at another DJ tribute act event. This time it is the incredible Slumdissential, featuring an all-star cast of female tribute act DJ’s.

As I walk in, I see the rising star of hard house tribute acts; Anne Cabbage taking the crowd to another level with her energising and full on set. She finishes her set with her latest track: ‘brick in a washing machine on a spin wash” and fellow female DJ tribute act; Lisa Punch Up takes over the decks.

I have a chat with Anne who tells me that she used to be in a Girls Aloud tribute band named Girl Allowed and have once topped the bill at a Pontins. But the band split up after the girl who pretending to be Kimberley had a one night stand with a Gary Barlow impersonator and ended up pregnant. “From that point on I moved into being a tribute act DJ and haven’t looked back” she added.

However, everyone in the U.K. tribute act scene always seem to bring up one name in particular, the Tiësto of the tribute DJ act world, a man by the name; Spen Bath. Spen has amassed a wealth of followers on his SoundCloud page and it is rumoured he spends up to 12 hours a day sharing his mixes online, some of which are 48 hours long whilst simultaneously direct messaging hundreds of his would be female fans.

Due to his very reclusive nature, not much is known about Spen, other than the fact his state of the art studio is housed within an old windmill on the outskirts of Amsterdam. But what is clear is the fact that Spen’s tribute to a tribute of a tribute being a tribute to the alter ego that is Sven Half and his tribute to that tribute of the mix that he did after that one time that M.I.K.E stood on his foot was M A S S I V E !

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