Review: Gareth Emery and Friends on Governors Island 08-04-12 by Austin Gebbia

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Some call it Governors Island, some call it their second home. As every New Yorker knows, Made Event has been dishing out premier events this summer on this beautiful venue that most of us have become extremely familiar with. When it came time for Gareth Emery to transform the island into his very own “Sanctuary,” as well as live broadcast the entire event for the world to see, the fans were trembling in anticipation.

Gareth Emery is a world renowned English DJ, who claims he does not stick to a specific genre, regardless of being viewed by many as a trance producer. There is a reason Armin van Buuren chooses to have him featured in many of his “A State of Trance” broadcasts. Since 2009, he has been the highest-ranked British DJ in DJ Mag’s annual top 100 poll, coming in at number 7 in 2010.

As a very big trance fan, I was hoping and praying he would stick to his roots and impress us with the bone-chilling trance that I, as well as others, know he is highly capable of. With that being said, different people had a countless number of expectations regarding his set that night. Supporting acts Jerome Isma-Ae, Blake Jarrell, Zack Roth, and Ben Gold each had an entirely different feel to their sets, taking us on a journey throughout trance and electro house.

Zack Roth, who we all know from opening the previous Dash Berlin event on the island, always impresses and sets the mood perfectly as an opener. Blake Jarrell caught my attention from the start by opening with “Midnight City” – M83 (Eric Prydz Remix), giving the crowd a sweet flashback from the recent Pryda invasion in New York. Having never previously seen Blake, I was immediately impressed and knew the tracks that followed would be the ultimate crowd pleasers. He later dropped “Mighty Love” – Eric Prydz, Duderstadt’s remix of Gypsy Room, and his very own mashup “Heart Is King” vs. “Losing My Religion” which tore the speakers apart.

Jerome Isma-Ae‘s set steadily kept the classical trance sound, which at times was a bit too slow for my liking. Regardless of being slow at here and there, Jerome opened with his breathtaking remix of Above & Beyond’s – “Razorfish” and took us right into Fedde Le Grand’s “Control Room.” Something that stood out to me was that Jerome closed with three tracks that were classics as well as personal favorites. The tear jerking “Sun In Your Eyes” – Above & Beyond, M83 – “Midnight City” (Eric Prydz Remix) which had been previously played, and closed with the massive Depeche Mode – “Personal Jesus” (Eric Prydz Remix), an exceptional ending to an extensive set which took us blissfully into Gareth.

As the crowd showed their love, Gareth Emery started out with his outstanding track, “The Saga.” That gave me hope for the rest of his set thinking he would play some, if not all of his classics and not the typical tracks many DJ’s are incorporating into their sets. Although his set later featured his classic “Concrete Angel,” the Alex M.O.R.P.H. remix of his “Into The Light” and the jaw-dropping “Sanctuary,” the tracks that followed were not something I would expect from him. “Nicktim” – Avicii vs. Nicky Romero, “Rage Valley” – Knife Party, and “Breakin A Sweat” – Skrillex (Zedd Remix), examples of what anybody could hear anywhere. Yes, these drove the crowd wild but if you are somebody who attends numerous events, you are highly aware that these are played very often. No, I’m not saying these tracks are bad, I’m simply saying when you hear the same exact thing from many artists, it gets excruciatingly exhausting. With all of the recent controversy on DJ’s “recycling sets,” you would think that Gareth Emery, highly respected in the trance world, could turn the speculation around and prove us all wrong. Maybe I’m being harsh because my expectations were too high, but I have every right to be disappointed due to the fact that I have seen Gareth display some insane trance sets.


Despite my frustration, he dropped his collaboration with Ashley Wallbridge “D.U.I” and “Loops & Tings” by our trance Gods Markus Schulz and Ferry Corsten. To bring his set to a conclusion with the crowd needy for more, his incredible “Concrete Angel” kicked in. It’s moments like these that make trance so special. As each and every person sang in unison to the beautiful vocals by Christina Novelli, time froze. It’s when the goosebumps go throughout your body, your knees get weak, and you completely lose yourself in the music.

Trance Family – in every beat, we are closer.” This is the sole reason why I expected more from him, knowing he has the capability of getting each and every person in tears. This is the feeling that keeps every trance addict coming back for more, but unfortunately it is not quite what any of us received. Gareth dropped Myon & Shane 54’s mashup “This Is That Silence” to conclude, leading us right into Ben Gold‘s set featuring Above & Beyond’s classic “Sun And Moon,” Dash Berlin’s famous “Dash-up” “Man On The Skyfire,” and “The Box” – Ummet Ozcan.

Bringing the event to a close, I had a few thoughts in mind. With the extensive growth of dance music, it’s extraordinarily difficult trying to accept the fact that the scene has drastically changed, and continues to change. I admire a person with originality and with that being said, any artist who can prove to show their creativity and individuality deserve much respect. Maybe now is the time to lower my expectations, because you know what they say “when you do not expect much, you cannot be disappointed.”

Austin Gebbia for EDMNYC

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