As I was running out my front door this past Saturday afternoon (typical me always about to miss my train), my mom stopped me and said “you’re going to Governor’s Island AGAIN?!” Now instead of trying to explain to my out-of-the-music-loop mother (who thinks all EDM sounds the same) why this artist was yet another I could not afford to miss, I gave her the simplest answer I could think of. “Mom it’s a birthday party, it’d be rude not to show up”, and with that I headed out the door to embark on another incredible Saturday adventure at Governor’s Island.
But this was sure to be unlike any birthday bash I had ever attended. Alesso was turning the big 2-1 and making a return to the “city of dreams” to celebrate it. Although temperatures were well over 100 degrees, I had been anxiously awaiting this day as if it was my own birthday, and therefore was not going to let the heat stand in my way. And as I approached the massive line for the ferry, I was glad to see everyone had the same mentality as me.
I stepped onto the island and began maneuvering my way through the completely sold out crowd. This was the first show presented by Pacha NYC that I had attended at Governor’s and it really added to my experience. Everywhere you looked you could see Pacha staff wearing light blue “Happy Birthday Alesso” t-shirts, which really got you into the party mood. As I walked toward the stage, I looked up at the hundreds of giant balloons hanging from the roof of the tent. I couldn’t help wondering when in the night they were going to drop, what song was going to be playing, or what I was going to be doing. And I honestly could not wait to find out.
First to the decks was Carl Kennedy. Now I have to admit I was a little skeptical if he would be able to hold the crowd’s attention for the full duration of his massive four-hour set. Proclaimed as ‘one of the world’s best undiscovered DJ’s’ by Pete Tong of BBC Radio 1 back in 2003, he has since continued produce and perform for all over the world. I can definitely say he exceeded my expectations and did a nice job of getting the crowd pumped for the rest of the night.
It was around 8pm and Otto Knows was next up. As he dropped his remix of Dada Life’s ‘Kick Out the Epic Mother Fucker’ to start his set, I couldn’t help but laugh at the people who had been relaxing with their buddies on picnic tables in the back suddenly start sprinting towards the tent. Needless to say that not only grabbed the crowd’s attention but really got the party started. Dropping everything from Dubvison’s ‘All By Myself’ to James Dorman’s ‘Alright’, my absolute favorite part of his hour set came when he played his own hit track ‘Million Voices’ vs. One Republic’s ‘Apologize’. It was my first time seeing him perform live and it certainly left me wanting more. The energy in the tent was so high it may have rivaled the temperature. And lucky for us trance and progressive house legend Arty was about to take the stage.
Now having already seen Arty 10+ times, the fact that I was still shaking in anticipation of his set says a lot about his skill as a producer. While some may critique his sound for being less trance than it use to be, I believe it’s the way that he so perfectly blends both house and trance that gives his music such an amazing sound. Dropping his new track ‘Open Space’ as well as some serious crowd pleasers such as Tiesto’s ‘Maximal Crazy’ and his remix of Dirty South’s ‘Walking Alone’. I was just as hooked as everyone else. My most memorable moment of his set came when he combined ‘Trio’ and Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s track ‘Otherside’. Now I know I’m a sucker for mashups, but this was truly an awesome moment in the night. I loved watching people sing along to the ‘Otherside’ lyrics and then completely lose it when the beat dropped. Another Arty set, another smile on my face. But I’m not surprised- ain’t not party without Arty right?
Before I even realized it, it was 10pm and it was time for birthday boy Alesso to make his party debut. As he opened with his new track ‘Clash’ the entire tent was suddenly filled with explosions of confetti. I watched as people jumped and grabbed at the tons of red and white confetti raining down all around them. I wasn’t even deep in the crowd, but the energy was definitely contagious on the island. Had this crowd really been going for the last 6 hours? You wouldn’t have known it. I couldn’t spot a single person standing still. As his set went on, he continued to unleash more and more of his crazy electro house tracks. Among them were some crowd favorites such as Swedish House Mafia’s ‘Save the World’ and Axwell’s version of ‘In My Mind’. And of course it wouldn’t be a trip to the city of dreams without him playing ‘City of Dreams’. More confetti, balloons dropping, body-painted Pacha performers taking to the stage and platforms in the crowd. The atmosphere was truly surreal (kudos to all production teams). He had “called us” to the island to celebrate his birthday with him so it was only fitting for him to answer our “call” for an encore at the end of his set. Dropping his famous track with Sebastian Ingrosso ‘Calling (Lose My Mind)’ brought to an end an incredible day of music at Governor’s Island.
As my friends and I headed off to wait in the massive ferry line to return to Manhattan, we began the internal battle of whether to give into the fatigue or head over to the offical after party Pacha was hosting (I think we all know where we went). And while most people say they can’t remember their 21st birthday, I can confidently say NYC made last Saturday a night Alesso (nor we), will ever forget.