Three DJs at two venues in one night – that was the premise of All Mixed Up. Refune Records artists, including label manager Sebastian Ingrosso and protégés Otto Knows and Alesso, played two sets, one at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Long Island and another at Pier 94 in Manhattan as part of the Pier of Fear Halloween events surrounding the weekend.
While the Coliseum show, the first time EDM artists ever played in the space, was likely a by-the-numbers stadium affair, the Pier 94 event was a less-typical amalgamation. Pier 94’s spacious and barren interior was the perfect backdrop for a warehouse party, albeit one with RPM and Pacha NYC behind it, and Ingrosso’s previous command of costumes, in an August MTV interview, resulted in a creatively dressed audience. Concertgoers ranged, in attire, from the banally sexy to the outrageous to EDM-inspired.
Opener Carl Kennedy without a doubt had the toughest job of the evening: keeping the entering crowds interested for three hours. Kennedy, who previously opened for Swedish House Mafia at their definitive Madison Square Garden show, paced himself with a traditional house set of booming, full bass and sharp hand claps supporting dance diva vocals and the occasional arpeggiated synth line. Such a classic set, two hours in, exemplified the Tony Wilson quote about the Hacienda’s role in rave culture from 2002 film 24 Hour Party People: “And tonight something equally epoch-making is taking place. See? They’re applauding the DJ. Not the music, not the musician, not the creator, but the medium. This is it.”
Although Kennedy is a DJ in the traditional sense, he has produced a handful of tracks, including “Out of My Mind,” which served to transition into the more modern concept of EDM events. Otto Knows made a grand start with expansive string chords, percussion supporting and manifesting into the first of multiple massive bass drops.
Otto Knows, one of a handful of DJ/producer prodigies, has had his success attributed to a handful of quality remixes and single “Million Voices,” and out of the crop of current up-and-comers, this Swedish producer’s skills are better behind the controller than in the studio. His 90-minute set was replete with percussive, hard-hitting 4/4 beats, well-timed drops, and the occasional shimmering synth melodies. Aside from his own material, his interpretations of Dada Life’s “Kick Out The Epic Motherf—ker,” Calvin Harris’ “You Used to Hold Me,” Avicii’s “Silhouettes,” and Burns’ “Lies,” one of his more recent mixes, made it onto the set. Although his interpretations were generally more aggressive than the original versions, Otto Knows’ “Silhouettes” gave the usually-melodic track a robotic quality with a syncopated synth line supporting.
Alesso, on the other hand, has a more substantial back catalog for a relative newcomer. Contrasting from Otto Knows’ set, Alesso stuck with the piano and vocal house formula that’s inevitable from a Swedish House Mafia protégé. Alesso alternated between his own tracks, including “Calling,” his collaboration with Ingrosso, and mixes. This Refune artist was more adventurous, giving his dance floor interpretations of rock songs (Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Otherside” and REM’s “Losing My Religion”) and also mixing the top EDM tracks of the moment (Harris’ “Feel So Close,” with far more depth than the un-danceable original, and both of David Guetta’s Sia collaborations, “She Wolf” and “Titanium.”). “Titanium” was particularly reworked, with more bass added.
If Otto Knows and Alesso both went for the bombastic, Ingrosso began his turn with a single repeated piano note, with an undercurrent of oscillating bass soon creeping in. Ingrosso, out of the Swedish House Mafia trio, proves he’s not afraid of a little bass. That said, Ingrosso cleanly went through a somewhat predictable set of Swedish House Mafia and his own tracks, touching on all familiar melodies of the past two years.
All Mixed Up, as well as Steve Angello’s recent Size in the Park show, is setting the stage for the mega-house act’s solo careers. Will they rest on their laurels, as both Ingrosso and Angello did at their recent solo events, or will each spend time in the studio to craft his own identity?