At 1:30am on Friday mornings, most 18-year-olds in Chicago are only fantasizing about The Mid, waiting for the day when they can escape to the shows and dance parties that the windy city has to offer. During the late night, early morning hours last Friday, however, 18 year-old John Walden wasn’t merely fantasizing about The Mid; He was The Mid.
The young Australian producer — who we named an artist to watch in 2013 — was the night’s main attraction, making his Chicago debut along his short but sweet Intropial Tour. Looking slightly older than his awe-inducing press photo would indicate, Walden eschewed dress code by sporting his own hat, but proved to fit in just fine in a club setting. The producer stood his ground through his nearly two-hour set that covered the year’s house anthems and fed the beast that is Thursday night clubbers. Read on for the five tracks you need to know from his first-ever Chicago set.
Moguai – Mpire (Original Mix)
Walden opened with a David Guetta hit, soon after dropped some Red Hot Chili Peppers, and threw in his required “In My Mind” remix; but half an hour into the set, patience was rewarded with a less radio-approved tune. Mixed with Dirty South & Thomas Gold’s “Eyes Wide Open,” and played before a rework of Zedd’s “Clarity,” was Moguai’s Ibiza Sessions Edit of “Mpire” — the first diamond in the mainstream rough. Way back last January, Moguai came out with the club-ready-yet-complex track; six months later the Ibiza Sessions edit came out, and six months after that, Walden had The Mid’s dance floor stragglers on their feet with its infectious house blend.
Topher Jones – Brohammer (Nari & Milani’s Dub Remix)
Walden may not have kept me energized following “Mpire,” but I was back in action for Nari & Milani’s Dub Remix of Chicago hometown hero Topher Jones’ “Brohammer,” which came mashed up with Phunktjan’s “Playground.” They say Chicago invented house music, but it was the Italians that took this song to club level, and the Australian who added the German element and dropped it at just the right moment. The Chicagoans, for their part, inadvertently acted out the dance moves from the original’s music video and various degrees of fist pumping ensued.
Project 46 & Dubvision ft. Donna Lewis – You & I (Original Mix)
Drifting back towards the feel-good direction we had expected from his Brightness Sessions mixes, Walden unleashed “You & I,” a festival-pleaser from Project 46 and DubVision. Sweeter and more satisfying than some of the set’s other electro house ballads, Donna Lewis’ vocals give the track just the right amount of euphoria while the builds had Walden demoing his version of air piano.
Walden – Intropial (Original Mix)
After a string of popular tracks and mashups, Walden finally served us with what we had purchased tickets for — Walden music. Nearly an hour and a half into his set the crowd was treated to his latest offering, “Intropial,” an upbeat, clean example of progressive house at its finest. Sadly the track was not fully played out, but was spun into a mix of Dirty South & Michael Brun’s latest track. While the VIP section took a breather during the original production, the dance floor held steady, indicating a readiness for Walden’s “Intropial” — which luckily, will be released tomorrow.
Burns – Lies (Otto Knows Remix)
Walden cranked up the intensity during the final segment of his set, bringing a solid stretch to a peak with Otto Knows’ remix of Burns’ “Lies.” This track has been considered one of last year’s best for a reason, and the singable vocals, orchestral break, and incessant beat sounded even greater coming from The Mid’s grade-A sound system. At the hour of 3am, this selection had the crowd more awake than it had been all night, perhaps finally recognizing that it wasn’t just an average Thursday at The Mid — it was Walden at The Mid.
Though the set gave us just a glimmer of Walden’s skills as a producer, the crowd was pleased with what he had delivered as a DJ. While there were some definite lulls — and perhaps one too many Alesso tunes — for an 18-year-old on his debut tour, the set was undeniably impressive. Both in the studio and behind the decks, we’re expecting big things from Walden this year.