The typical 21 year old is generally still studying in college, has some sort of profession, and leads a standard life. Most don’t have the surreal opportunity to celebrate their birthday for a week straight at the hottest nightclubs and venues in the world, but leave it to Alesso (Alessandro Lindblad) to create one of the most dreamlike 21st birthday weeks known to man. Whether he’s blowing out his candles at Lavo or jet setting to XS Las Vegas to rage until sunrise, this Swede has the opportunity to celebrate like no other and take it to the most extreme level.
Alesso chose to celebrate his actual birthday (July 7th) in the “City of Dreams” (New York) by having an extravagant, over-the-top celebration on Governor’s Island brought to us by Pacha NYC with guest DJ’s Arty, Otto Knows, and Carl Kennedy. Alesso found out only a little over a year ago that the world of dance music was his “Calling” when he remixed “Pressure” (Alex Kenji, Starkillers, Nadia Ali) which was sure to be heard while driving your car, sitting at work, or on the dance floor at any major event around the world. Taking the radio by storm, it was only a short amount of time until he became world renown for his distinctive progressive house sound.
In over 100 degree weather, it was hard to imagine 5,000 people dancing for eight hours straight. Fortunately with the help of opener Carl Kennedy, he proved to us that it is absolutely possible for an opening set to submerge a crowd with nasty beats, regardless of the temperature. Carl gave a four-hour set that impressed, hyped up the sweaty mass, and exceeded everybody’s expectations. In October of 2003, Pete Tong of BBC’s Radio 1, proclaimed Carl Kennedy “one the world’s best undiscovered DJs.” To those who have seen him spin live, this is an indisputable fact and shows that the biggest names aren’t always the best.
By 8pm, it was time for Otto Knows. Before this event, I only knew of him through his track, “Million Voices”, which has been mashed up, remixed, shred apart and dropped by any DJ you can think of. Opening with his new remix of “Kick Out The Epic Motherfucker,” it was refreshing to hear his twist on it and not the original for once. His one hour on deck was short, sweet, and to the point. His set featured “All By Myself” (DubVision), “We Are Your Friends” (Justice, Simian) and “Alright” (James Doman). Overall, it was an hour of refreshing tracks we don’t often hear.
Before I knew it, it was time for Arty. Loved by myself and many others, I personally feel as though he is one of the most talented producers out there. Straight out of Anjunabeats, he combines the sounds of house and trance (known as “Trouse”) which is a big crowd pleaser. He produces many tracks that have the pure trance sound. No matter what genre you find him to be, he is here to stay because there is nobody else that can compare to his individual sound. Famous for being featured in Armin van Buuren’s “A State of Trance” as well as Above & Beyond’s “Trance Around the World,” it was only proper for him to show New York how it’s done. Having seen him many times beforehand, I was curious as to how this next set will compare to the last, due to the fact that he constantly surprises me with the variations of his sets. How could anyone not like a set that features his brand new “Open Space,” his “Walking Alone” remix, “Maximal Crazy” (Tiesto), his very own masterpiece Trio (Matisse & Sadko), and Hardwell’s new track, “That’s How We Do”? Nearly paralyzing each person in the tent, Arty took complete control and showed us how he throws down. Let me tell you, this set was one hour of nonstop raging and was 100% more house-geared than trance. With this particular crowd, I was unsure as to how many people have heard of him beforehand but I am positive that they will forever remember him.
After six hours of music, the time had finally come… the reason all of us were gathered on the island, the reason behind this outstanding event: the birthday boy, Alesso. As his brand new track “Clash” kicked in, a countdown began. After hearing this track for the first time at EDC, I knew it would be massive. When the countdown hit 1, the crowd paused and “ARE YOU READY?” was heard throughout the tent. The beat dropped accompanied by tons of confetti. The crowd went absolutely ballistic, with the energy in the tent at its peak of the entire night.
Pure euphoria was felt on the entire island; it was truly a magical moment and a jaw-dropping opening.
His set was exactly as I envisioned it, with tracks such as “Save the World” (Swedish House Mafia), “Ladi Dadi” (Steve Aoki ft. Wynter Gordon), his new “City of Dreams,” and a very special mashup “Heiress of Valentina” vs. “Language” followed by an epic balloon drop. I wiped the sweat off my head as I anxiously awaited one of my all time favorites: “Calling” (Lose My Mind). Produced by the legendary Ingrosso and Alesso, this was a classic in his set which is exactly why he chose to close with it. He took the microphone and thanked us for coming to celebrate with him, and trust me, it was certainly our pleasure. This was again, a perfect day on Governor’s Island. Pacha, as we all know, can throw one hell of a party and this one might nearly impossible to top.
Happy Birthday, Alesso!
-Austin Gebbia for EDMNYC
*PHOTOS: by Michael Elezovic for Pacha NYC*