Have you ever gone to a show with a face and left without one? This happens to me every time I see A-Trak. So many factors come together to make him one of the greatest – and besides his raw music abilities, the facts speak for themselves. He was 15 years old when he claimed his first of five titles at the DMC World Championships — a competition that measures mixing and scratching abilities. He opened for the Swedes at their Madison Square Garden show – which, whether you’d like to admit it or not, was a defining moment in the history of dance music. His monthly Fool’s Gold Radio podcast are one of few that I thoroughly enjoy playing on repeat, and his live sets are so lively, different, and imaginative that you know you’re in for a treat every time he takes to the decks.
As A-Trak’s set at Camp Bisco began, song after song left me with the feeling of “what the hell is going on?” How he manages to combine hip-hop, house, techno, electro, and a little bit of funk so flawlessly is beyond my comprehension. Depending on your level of music knowledge, you’re bound to leave an A-Trak set not knowing at least half of the songs he played. Of the ones I recognized, these five stood out the most:
1. Carte Blanche – Gare Du Nord (Original Mix)
The late DJ Mehdi (who made up half of Carte Blanche with Riton) was one of A-Trak’s best friends. When we heard this track live we knew it was him saying, “this one’s for Mehdi.” The track is half indie-dance, half filthy French techno. When the train horns blared and the punchy chord play mounted, you couldn’t help but live in the moment and let loose.
2. Gesaffelstein – Control Movement (Original Mix)
3. Gesaffelstein – Depravity (Original Mix)
France’s hottest techno export, Gesaffelstein, has been a favorite of A-Trak’s in recent live sets and podcasts. “Control Movement” has been one of the hottest songs of the year, and even got play time by techno kingpin Carl Cox in his EDC New York set. “Depravity,” Gesaffelstein’s latest release, is dark and heavy, and fits the Camp Bisco realm in perfect fashion. When it went off, confused festival goers turned to each other in horror – the good kind of horror, of course.
4. Justice – New Lands (A-Trak Remix)
A-Trak’s rendition to Justice’s “New Lands” defines him as the total package, producer and DJ. His creativity behind the turntables matches that in the studio. With just the right amount of electro fused with disco and funk, this track was an easy crowd favorite.
5. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Heads Will Roll (A-Trak Remix)
He closed his set with “Heads Will Roll,” which got the biggest crowd reaction of the night. Being that it’s one of his most popular reworks, a crowd-wide singalong ensued.
The Bottom Line
According to a piece A-Trak penned for the Huffington Post today, “crowds used to come see DJs for a musical journey. Now they expect to hear specific songs.” His set at Camp Bisco had enough indistinguishable material to wow the crowd and the necessary amount of popular material to keep everyone engaged. His live sets are full of fun and excitement – a full-time dance party from start to finish. Of all the bass-heavy and electro acts at Camp Bisco, A-Trak’s eclectic selection of music fit the mold perfectly. Whether it’s listening to his monthly Fool’s Gold radio show, or seeing him preform, discovering new music and having a good time is the focus of every A-Trak escapade.