Last week on a freezing Thursday night – a weather glitch Texans were not quite fond of – the Moldovan Prince of Trance, Andrew Rayel, hit the decks at Vulcan Gas Company and kept everybody warm with his 130 bmp dance party. If I can sum up my experience in a single thought, it would be that Andrew Rayel reminded me of my love for trance, the primary reason why EDM is now an integral part of my life.
Located along 6th Street, famously known as “Dirty Six” of historic downtown Austin, Vulcan Gas Company provided the stage for Andrew Rayel’s stop in Central Texas. This steampunk inspired, two story building had a spacious dance floor for the hundreds of fans that braved the cold that night. The opener, a local DJ from Austin, did a wonderful job of getting the crowd warmed up for what was to come. Playing classic trance tunes like Cosmic Gate’s “Find Yourself”, and Paul Oakenfold’s “Southern Sun,” his set finished with a distinct flow and harmony that kept everyone happy while patiently waiting for the arrival of our modern day Mozart.
As it got closer to 12am, I found myself migrating upstairs as the bottom floor filled up rather quickly. Upstairs, I was able to scout the place a little better, noting the simplicity of the venue’s layout; An elevated rectangular DJ booth stood on the east wall of the club and a stack of speakers on each side, towered over the attendees. Aside from the typical strobes and multicolored nightclub lighting systems, nothing indicated that there was going to be much of a visual aspect for the show. The focus of that night was solely the music. And Andrew Rayel MORE than delivered.
A few moments after the stroke of midnight, Andrew Rayel did not waste a single minute of his two-hour set. Without warning, besides the projection of the letter A atop the DJ booth, Andrew Rayel hit the crowd hard with some heavy bass lines and bpm that guaranteed EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON. in the club throwing their hands in the air and jumping on their feet. Not going to lie, I was caught off guard. Not having been to a trance show in a while, I half-expected Rayel to build up to the more progressive songs later on his set. But contrary to my speculations, he jumped right in within the first 10 minutes.
Included in his setlist were melodic remixes of trance favorites like Above and Beyond’s “Sun and Moon,” W&W’s “Thunder,” “Lift Off,” and their amazing remix of Armin van Buuren’s “This is What It Feels Like,” Zedd’s “Clarity” and Hardwell’s “Dare You.” Of course, he also played his original mixes from his Find Your Harmony 2015 album that was released late November last year. But what really stood out to me were his remixes of Dash Berlin’s “Man On The Run” and “Waiting.” To me, those were the classic trance songs and I could tell that the crowd were on the same nostalgic wavelength as I was. His whole set was literally a non-stop dance party. Song after song, beat after beat, Andrew Rayel transitioned flawlessly. Distinct classical piano sounds blended perfectly with the vocals of each handpicked song. When “One In A Million” finally came on, everyone unanimously sang their hearts out, much like how they sang “Sun and Moon” earlier that night.
Lastly, not to go unnoticed was Andrew Rayel’s crowd control and interaction. Like casting a spell to his fans, everyone followed suit to whatever Rayel was doing. As most of us know, Rayel works closely with the trance god himself, Armin van Buuren; So it did not come as a surprise when Rayel played Armin’s “Ping Pong” song while ushering them to move their hands side to side with every beat. And to be honest, while this act is deemed overdone by a lot of DJs, regardless of how many times I experience this different shows, I personally never get sick of it. It gets the crowd going! At some point, I even noticed a girl get on somebody’s shoulders so she could reach out to our Moldovan Prince. Any other producer would have ignored the gesture; but instead, he happily shook her hand before continuing on with his musical prowess. As the show closed to an end, all of Vulcan chanted for one more song and I happened to be standing in proximity of the DJ booth to witness Andrew Rayel nod to his tour manager that he was going to play one more song like they asked. I couldn’t help but crack a smile at this. I just love seeing a fan-oriented producer like Rayel. Naturally, I ambushed him for a photo as he stepped down… along with twenty plus other fans who did the same. But that’s just one more reason to love Andrew Rayel – his reciprocation of love and dedication to fans. It’s unmatchable. As young and successful he is, it’s nice to know that he puts fans first. To say the very least, it was absolutely worth it being late to work the next morning 😉
Originally written for ENL by Erikha Fay