Whether you know it or not, chances are you’ve attended an event deejayed by TJ Connelly. After all, he’s been the DJ in residence for Red Sox games at Fenway Park since 2005, and just completed his third season in that same role for New England Patriots games at Gillette Stadium.
For audiences of tens of thousands, Connelly has curated the soundtrack of championship parades, clinches, comebacks and scores of other sports memories (and probably some forgettable moments, too). Every party host knows there’s a unique alchemy to keeping visitors entertained and engaged, but that’s just a day at the office for Connelly — who is also tech-based entrepreneur and co-founded the restaurant industry’s popular onthebar app.
Patriots invited him for a tryout with the team during a prime time matchup against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. The Pats fell into a deep hole, inspiring Connelly to blast Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” that year’s monster single, throughout the stadium. After the Patriots got lucky enough to complete the titanic comeback and win the game in overtime, they invited Connelly to join the organization.
“TJ the DJ,” who spun for the legendary independent radio station WFNX and can now be heard on college stations WZBC and WMBR, characterizes the art of deejaying a sporting event as something between a party and a mixtape. If you play something the crowd loves, they let you know. But he finds the opposite to be true, too. “If you play something and it kills the energy, you can feel it,” he says. “And you can feel it times 68,000 people."
“It’s basically like your job is being a transistor for the crowd,” he continues. “Your job is to take what they’re giving you and amplify it, and keep it from getting too low.”
Connelly spends hours and even days formulating plans to heighten the experience for both Fenway and Foxboro faithful. Sometimes it pays off big, like two weeks ago during the AFC Championship Game at Gillette, when even Tom Brady and Bill Belichick admitted to enjoying a massive crowd singalong to Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer.”
Connelly will be watching Sunday’s matchup from his couch at home, but listen closely: You should be able to hear some of the team’s favorite hits in Houston. Connelly provided Super Bowl organizers with a selection of the team’s signature tunes, to be played in key moments.
Like all New England fans, TJ the DJ is hoping to have cause to celebrate on Sunday night. If the football goes well, he’ll get another opportunity to play hits for an excited crowd, and unite a community through music. As he says, “That’s a lot of what it’s for, right?”