Any fan who has been to a Chicago Bears game at Soldier Field has heard (or felt) the music playing. In and around Soldier Field.
In Week 3 of the 2018 season, the Bears faced the Seattle Seahawks at home. This was a “Monday Night Football” game, and new coach Matt Nagy was looking for his first win.
“It was a huge game and I was like, ‘Hey, I gotta go crazy. I need to get the kids some energy,’” Bears practice and pregame DJ Jay iLLa told the Tribune recently.
The Bears defense, led by pass rusher Khalil Mack, sacked Seahawks QB Russell Wilson six times, and Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky was 25 of 34 for 200 yards with two touchdown passes and two interceptions in the 24-17 victory.
“This was the first game I ever played ‘Swag Surfinginside‘ pregame. They were all swag surfing on the field. They were ready,” iLLa continued. “We won the match and they played in the locker room. thus ‘Club Dub’ was born.‘ “I’ll never get the credit, but it’s my story and I’ll stick with it.”
iLLa, one of the Bears’ four DJs, has been with the team since 2015. He can tell how long he’s been there by the number of coaches coming and going; His first season with the team was under John Fox. age.
Inspired by her deep love for hip-hop, iLLa loves combining different genres to keep practices and pregame events fun and high-energy, no matter the team’s record. Although he gets requests, he says players rarely do them. That’s why iLLa uses his research from playing in clubs to create excitement that motivates the team.
“Pre-game (music) gets the energy flowing, kind of gets you pumped up before the game. Having the right music definitely helps,” said Bears running back Khalil Herbert.
Once the game begins, musical responsibility passes from iLLa in the north end zone to DJ Jay Funk in the public address room. In his eighth season with the Bears, Funk is creating musical atmospheres for the Bulls, White Sox, Northwestern and Notre Dame. He says DJing is his art and freedom, but he is aware that he must control the energy in the stadium.
“What you’re listening to shows you how I’m going to make you feel, so if I need you to stand up and raise your voice, I want to play something that’s too loud or too hyper (for the players), especially right now.” Funk said. “And if I have to lower that a little bit because we don’t want the other defense to be overrated.”
But Funk isn’t just playing music he thinks is good, he’s also thinking about the in-game situation on the field.
“Fourth quarter. We’re only down by one touchdown. In third place. We are on defense. The other team only has four yards to get another first down. If we can stop them here to get the ball back we can probably win the game. “Now you want your defense and your fans to create excitement,” he explains.
will play funk “Welcome to the jungle” Guns N’ Roses and “No Hand” From Waka Flocka — songs that tell fans it’s time to raise their voices and disrupt the opponent’s offense. As the in-game DJ, he has to be aware of the team, fans, injuries and atmosphere at all times. Although largely invisible, Funk says he is a very active participant in the game day experience.
Both iLLa and Funk admit that the job isn’t always fun; especially when the team is not playing well. They are not only the team’s DJs, but also the fans, so they understand the frustration the fans feel. The key they share is to take the emotion out of it.
Keeping Soldier Field and the involved fans optimistic has been a difficult task for the DJs on the 5-8 team, with an injury to quarterback Justin Fields sidelining him for weeks.
“Even if you’re down 40 to nil you still have to piss off the fans. Even if the fans get really upset and leave the stadium, I still have to keep my energy up,” Funk said.
Not only music is made for the match; At the south end of the stadium is also the Dr Pepper Patio, where DJ Sasha gets the party started two hours before kickoff. In his eighth season with the Bears, Sasha said he likes to set the game-day atmosphere with music that “includes all the people.” He says it’s his job to make sure each song is upbeat and creates excitement as fans enter Soldier Field.
“The important thing in sports is definitely to create that energy when they come in. I think the music sets the atmosphere,” he said. “You create the atmosphere that connects people and gets them engaged with what’s going to happen.
DJ Marquee, who played Miller Lite Ultimate Tailgate on the Field Museum’s south terrace two hours before game time, agrees that the energy he and Sasha bring to the fans through their work is a huge contribution to the enthusiasm fans bring to the stadium. It sets the tone by combining Chicago’s music culture with what football fans love.
“You try to think of the typical football fan. There are layers to it,” Marquee said. “When we think of football, when we think of music, it’s usually rock, sometimes metal. But being in Chicago, you try to combine that culture. We have a rich culture of hip-hop, house and juke. That’s my main goal, making every ultimate tailgate look like Chicago.”
DJs hope Bears fans know how much their energy means not only to them but to the team as well. As always they use music to help the atmosphere and help the team as much as they can. Even though they haven’t been “surfing” much lately, DJs will have the perfect tune when they do.