While Steve Angello catered to the masses with his SHM-style set at Size in the Park, his after-hours appearance at Pacha NYC was where New Yorkers got a chance to understand why he is one of the best in the game. After finishing up his first set of the day, a damp-yet-energized Steve teased that his set at Pacha would be nothing like the one he had just played. “I’ll give you $1000 if you can ID a single track,” he said to me, before dropping a familiar yeah, you wanna mess? style smirk that embodies his signature charisma and confidence.
Well, just a few hours later I would find myself right in the thick of things: standing directly behind the man at Pacha NYC as he played one of the most memorable sets I have ever heard, with the fewest amount of songs I’ve ever known. If that isn’t the mark of a good DJ, I don’t know what is.
My musical tastes are admittedly focused; I know what I like, and I don’t mind seeing the same DJs over and over. Given that I tend towards the progressive house — or dare I say ‘mainstream’ — acts, I’m used to hearing the same songs. I’ve tried listening to the techno stuff and seeing those shows, but I always find myself waiting for something that never seems to happen. Maybe that’s why I was so floored with how comfortable I was when Steve Angello started dropping a mixture of techno and underground house gems — and not a single song from the usual SHM playlist. Just before the show, Steve tweeted that he was “putting on the Mescal Hat,” a reference to his tech-house persona that eschews all the Swedish House sensibilities and comes out very late at night. Just a few tracks into the set, I found myself bobbing along uncontrollably to selections that I never would have been exposed to otherwise.
Steve’s long-time friend Junior Sanchez was tasked with opening the night, and he did it with a glorious selection of similarly unidentifiable (to me) tracks that I was instantly able to latch on to. The standout for me was Albert Neve’s private rework of MGMT’s “Kids,” a fitting way to bridge the gap between the bleeps and bloops of the underground with a hook that is instantly recognizable to everyone.
MGMT – The Kids (Albert Neve Private Rework)
Soon enough, Steve returned from his quick trip to New Jersey, where he played an early set at his first afterparty of the night at 4 Sixty 6 nightclub. When he took off his black leather jacket and descended into the Pacha NYC booth, Junior gave him a big hug and a handshake, and turned over the decks to Steve. It was time to get started — the Mescal Kid had arrived.
My attempts to Shazam tracks throughout the night proved to be futile, as did my attempts to turn down the shots of Jaegermeister that were being poured behind Steve the entire night. As Steve predicted, I did have a pretty difficult time identifying many of the songs he would drop in the hours-long set, but I can proudly say that I instantly picked up on the disco-day-party vibes of the Round Table Knights remix to Tensnake’s “Coma Cat.” It’s probably fitting that the first time I heard this particular track was on Pete Tong’s Essential Selection just as I was getting into music; Pete introduced me to dance music better than a frat party ever could, and Steve would do the same before the night was over.
Tensnake – Coma Cat (Round Table Knights Remix)
It would be unfair to talk about how great the set was without dishing out a couple more of the highlights, so here are some of the other tracks that I was able to ID with the help of fellow DA editors Amanda Claudio and Gabi Musayev, both of whom were also in attendance. The set was decidedly two-tone; employing a mixture of more upbeat selections with darker offerings to change up the vibe and keep everyone from getting too comfortable with one sound in particular.
David Tort’s remix of Winx’s “Don’t Laugh” has the blaring horns of a 2012 big-room track, but with darker undertones and an evil-sounding “ha ha ha” vocal sample that reminds me of many of Steve’s personal tweets. Steve spread his arms wide open and seemed to be soaking up the incredible energy of the Pacha crowd when he dropped the early-90s track from Crystal Waters, “Gypsy Woman,” making Pacha NYC feel a lot like Pacha Ibiza for a few minutes in the middle of the set.
Crystal Waters – Gypsy Woman
The Prok and Fitch School of Todd remix to “Bounce To the Boat” brought more of the old-school bouncey vibes, which proved to be a big success in the super-crowded nightclub. Prok and Fitch got more airplay with their and My Digital Enemy’s remix of Alter Ego’s “Rocker,” a song you have probably heard many times but have never been able to successfully ID. The last track you should know is Michael Cleis’ “Litoral,” another old-school song that got everyone into even more of a fiesta mood.
Even better than the five or six new additions to my iTunes library is my interest and excitement for something new. I’m already finding myself digging through SoundCloud and YouTube for old Steve Angello sets to gain exposure to even more new — but old — material. It’s great when a DJ can string together a laundry list of songs you already know, but it’s more impressive to play things that people have never heard before and get them hooked from the first moment the melody kicks in. It’s even more astounding when you can barely pick up on the transitions between songs, but simply find yourself entranced in a marathon of music that you cannot stop listening to.
It’s been a very long time since I went to a show and left feeling completely schooled — but that’s what
Steve Angello the Mescal Kid was able to do at Pacha NYC… But he still owes me $1000.
Don’t forget to check out our review of Size In The Park for more Steve Angello coverage.
Photographs: Michael Elezovic