Hardwell, Dyro, Audien & Henrix @ Governor’s Island 5/26/13

Posted by on June 2, 2013

Hardwell @ Governor's Island 5/26/13

Looking back on last weekend, I think about how time flew from graduating college on Saturday afternoon, to a whirlwind celebration afterword into the wee hours of the morning, then struggling to move out entirely a few hours later to get home and make it into New York for this show on Governor’s Island by 4pm (was never going to happen). The lineup starting with Hardwell, then Dyro, Henrix and Audien was golden and if you were in New York, you had to attend this event. The city had “officially” kicked off the festival season with overpriced, lackluster EDC New York in the parking lot of Citi Field and really needed a proper start to festival season. Why not a holiday weekend like Memorial Day weekend that is the beginning of summer for many, on the beaches of Governer’s Island, with a lineup led by possibly the hottest DJ in the world right now, Hardwell.

Transportation to and from the island is AWLAYS an issue and takes a good hour from the time you get in line to moment you actually get to the other side. Just part of the problems with ferrying people across a waterway. It would be nice to see them possibly increase the ferry frequency during peak hours, but that depends on city cooperation.

Anyone who has taken the ferry across the from the bottom of Manhattan, South Ferry, down to Governor’s Island knows the slow mounting anticipation you get when you are on that boat. You can see the tent off in the distance and as the boat gets closer, you start to hear the thumping of bass come across the water and a dance party starts to break out on the decks of the boat. It was an unseasonably cold day in New York, so movement was key for everyone there in their attire that was fit for July festival season, not the soon to be 40 degree nighttime.

I was coming across just as Henrix, Lebron jersey wearing and all, was finishing up his set laced with new and unreleased tracks and bootlegs, about to give way to Tri-state area man, Nate Rathburn, better known to many of you as Audien. Audien is one of the new breed of producers whose productions range drastically in style and sound (see “Wayfarer vs “Sup”), giving him even more freedom with what productions he can play. Possibly the most important thing about having a wide base stylistically, is that there is no expectation from the fans going into his set because there is no one sound to pinpoint him. So when you go to an Armin show, you expect a certain brand of trance (though changing), or when you go to an Avicii show, you expect a certain brand of big room house, and when that is broken, people don’t like it or are confused (see UMF Avicii). However, Audien could play anything from “Easy”, to Orjan Nilsen’s “No Saint Out Of Me”, to his own “Ciao” (release tomorrow), and of course “Wayfarer”, and it all came together cohesively in one smooth hour long set.

Audien gave way to Dyro and his 2 hour set from 7-9pm. The 8 hour marathon was not even halfway through and the sold out crowd was already almost all there and the place was getting quite warm, despite the falling temperatures. Dyro’s set was very interesting in the sense that it was almost a two movement piece. The first hour was more of a warmup to the heavier sounds he brought in the second hour. It was my first time seeing Dyro live, so I thought he would just pound away our eardrums with relentless electro house for 2 hours and make Hardwell’s job nearly impossible to top the energy brought before him. However he started with some true-to-the-name house for the first 10 minutes, getting a solid groove going and then brought in one of my favorite tracks of the year, and possibly one of the biggest thus far, Oliver’s “MYB”.

His set slowly built over the first hour to a somewhat sloppy transition to the second hour, opening with his remix of Tommy Trash vs The Aston Shuffle “Sunrise”, and then moved through some of his standards like “Leprechauns and Unicorns“, “Grid“, “Top Of The World and a gauntlet of remixes, really bringing a full onslaught of high powered tracks throughout the hour. It was a marvel to see how good his discography was to date and how that translates to the live venue with the transition from the slow building first hour to the unrelenting second hour.

Towards the end of the set, I quickly ventured into VIP section to one, use the VIP bracelet given to me, and two grab a pic for the FNT twitter account of the first moments of Hardwell’s set and was quickly surrounded by over-tanned individuals proudly displaying their prized, overpriced bottles. I snapped my picture and immediately left. Ain’t nobody got time for those people.

The Friday before the event, I had checked for set times and when I saw that Hardwell was given a 3 hour slot, I was one, surprised because that is rare in a festival-like format — most artists are given 1, maybe 2 hour slots at the most, and second, incredibly excited, especially after watching both his Ultra and I Am Hardwell in Amsterdam sets. He came onto the stage with raucous applause, asking “Is this my favorite city or what?” and elevated the night to new heights with his standard opening track “Spaceman”, with the vocal of Above & Beyond’s “Thing Called Love”.

The track selection was disappointingly similar to his I am Hardwell set, though much of this is understandable since a lot of them are either his songs, or stuff from his label, Revealed Recordings. However, that does not excuse some of the safe picks like “Rattle”, “Don’t You Worry Child”, or “Internet Friends”. There were some marked differences in track selection that made this night outstanding. His set started with a lot of his own stuff like “Kontiki”, an ID of his, his ID with MAKJ, his rework of the Tiesto classic “Love Comes Again”, that got a disappointingly poor reception, and the pretty well rinsed bootleg, “Cobra” and Nero’s “Promises”.

As I was standing there dancing, having a great time, there were two things that became very apparent. Hardwell is a very good DJ, which is not surprising since he got his start when he was 14, and has a real mastery of what is going on behind the decks, a rarity for young big room DJs being forced onto the mainstage because of their productions. His command behind the decks was apparent and his ability to adjust on the fly makes him one of the best going right now. The other, was somewhat because I was standing right under a rack of speakers and the bass was VERY clear in my ears (good thing I had earplugs or I would be deaf), was the amount of hardstyle kicks in Hardwell’s set. This is in part a sign of the times, where hardstyle kicks are in vogue and are a hot style to try out. I get that it works in some songs, notably with what W&W does and I love their stuff, but it can be wearisome. I personally don’t particularly like it, especially when it is thrown rather haphazardly into some songs just for the sake of a bigger bass. It can give me headaches at that point, and I get migraines, not good.

His set continued with a bevy of bootlegs and big time festival-ready tracks like Maurizio Gubellini & Nari & Milani feat. Nicci “Atom 2.0” “Vago”, a gauntlet of W&W tracks, “The Code“, “Thunder” and their remix of “This Is What It Feels Like“, a mixture of remixes of “Apollo” and “Animals” from Sidney Samson & Martin Garrix. This type of track was in the vast majority of what was being selected by Hardwell, and the crowd was eating it up. These types of “minimal festival drop” tracks are becoming more and more common and to an extent, less and less inventive. The good ones will sift to the top, like all music, but a lot of them are repeating the same rhythms with slightly different pitches or are a note or two off from another song, prime example, Alvaro & Moti “NaNaNa”.

One of the highlights of the set was the moment what Dyro came on and the two of them presented their just released collab, “Never Say Goodbye“. I was a little disappointed Bright Lights was not in attendance since not only were both Hardwell & Dyro there, Hardwell had his special 3 hour set, and Hardwell has expressed his deep love for New York City. He played several Hardwell IDs on the night, I counted 6, and the one that really stood out was the “world premier” of his collaboration with Knife Party. It has been in the works for a while now, and he finally played it. The crowd freaked out (including me) at this news. I did not recognize it off the bat, but after going home, I realized, as did a lot of people, that it is just a rework of Knife Party’s “Baghdad”, which was left off the “Haunted House EP“, possibly because Hardwell did not want it on there. Either way it is exciting to hear them working together and the song is fire.

One of my pet peeves is a DJ who won’t shut up and always ask the crowd to make some noise and Hardwell did just that. We were constantly asked to “Show some appreciation and make some noise” and on the first one that was fine, however towards the end, you could hear the energy waning and each yell getting more and more tired.

Hardwell’s set seemed to loose a little steam towards the end, as he played some older, safer tracks. He mixed together “Epic”, “KOTEMF” and “City Of Dreams” creatively to make it acceptable to play them, which adding Steve Aoki’s remix of “Pursuit Of Happiness”, a favorite of his recently. A little after 11:50 he left the stage, and it was obvious he would be back for an encore. He came back and played for a second time “Spaceman”. Then after an expletive laden thank you, saying “This has been one of the best nights of my life so far” he played “Never Say Goodbye”…. again, with Dyro coming back on stage, giving him an enourmous hug and both smiling with the youthful exuberance of two young men who know they were part of something special. That energy was seen as the both of them came down the line of people waiting for the ferry in the cold, Hardwell running, high fiving fans and thanking them once more.

As the night came to a close, Hardwell left the stage, thanking the crowd one last time, and asked the beleaguered crowd where the after party was. I am not sure if he found it that night, but I trust that if there was if there a city to find one in, New York would be your place and Hardwell would have no trouble going wherever on a night that I sure neither he or many of those in the crowd will forget for some time.

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