While many of us sit around and debate which producers are staying true to trance, Rohan, Zubin, Matt, David, and the rest of our friends over at Esscala are just makin it happen, time and time again. Be it an Open to Close set from Max Graham, a little Pure Trance with Solarstone or Giuseppe, and even with FSOE 350, Esscala always delivers.
This time around, the leading NYC trance promotions company brought us the combo of Menno de Jong, Roger Shah, and NO2 at Slake on a lovely Friday night in Manhattan.
Slake has definitely turned into one of the key spots for trance in the city with a key location, bangin sound system, multi-floor lounge for a range of bottle service options, and of course, the best fans and tunes around.
Daniel Sea had opening duties, and has certainly proven himself as one of the premier names in the region to take to the decks before international talent. When opening for a guy like Roger Shah, I will say that the goal should be pretty straightforward, lower BPM trance. You can get away with prog house as well, as long as you don’t overpower the reigning emperor of that beautiful Baleric sound so many of us know and love.
Whether you know him better as Roger or Sunlounger, Shah is the Maestro behind the beach side of trance. Along with his key muse, Zara Taylor, Shah crafted the magic island beauties of “Lost,” “Found,” and “One Love.” We got a solid dose of Shah’s collabs with Aly and Fila with the theme from FSOE 350 “Eye to Eye” ft. Sylvia Tosun, as well as their track ft. Adrina Thorpe “Perfect Love.” Speaking of Thorpe, Roger was kind enough to include another of my all-time favorite tracks “Who Will Find Me,” and “Island,” which also highlight her tremendous voice.
As the night progressed the crowd increased steadily, but make no mistake, these titans of trance still fall firmly into that underground category. I dunno about you, but I have no complaints about that part at all. Once you get out of trance artists in the current DJ Mag rankings, it’s highly unlikely that you’re gonna see a huge turnout for trance anywhere in the USA.
Rounding out the Sunlounger’s set were tracks including “Balearic Beauty,” “Try to be Love,” and the recent massive trancer “Glitter and Gold.” Around 2am or so, Menno snuck behind/next to Roger. I laugh to myself as I say “snuck” as no one who stands at about 6.5 ft+ really sneaks around anywhere…
Menno’s set was a little different than I’ve heard from the Dutch trance icon. Now, I can’t really tell you that it was surprising, as I haven’t heard a lot of his live sets lately. But as I’ve said in a number of forums, he did drop more psy-trance than I’m used to including. “Be Focused” by Ghost Rider and “Redemption” by Critical Choice and Liquid Soul. But then again, Menno included the Solarstone Pure Mix of London Grammar’s “Wasting My Young Years,” as well as the Pure Mix of “In a Perfect World” by Sied van Riel vs. Standerwick, and Menno’s recent banger “Creatures of the Night” ft. Noire Lee. So, I certainly wouldn’t say his style was entirely any one sub-genre of trance.
What Slake may lack in visual screens they do make up for in dancers/hoopers/twirlers… At one point security came up to me and said “careful man, you almost got hit.” I gotta admit, most security teams would have just stood around and laughed if someone got hit, so it was nice of these guys to actually pay attention to the safety of the crowd. The dancers certainly were impressive. A solid combination of improving technology in addition to some practice created a cool light show, even for those of us staying off the performance enhancers.
Krzysztof Pretkiewicz, the first Polish producer signed to Anjunabeats and better known as the happiest of gases, Nitrous Oxide, took over from Menno for closing duties sometime around 3am (I have to be honest I wasn’t super focused on the time). The mastermind behind such awesome tracks such as “Before I Met You,” and “Cage Bird” was on point. In retrospect, this wasn’t super surprising. I think NO2 or most Anjuna artists would have been a perfect addition to this lineup of Balearic and Dutch stars. He filled the lineup very nicely in place of the initial selection of Mark Sherry with tracks that had a similar light yet driving trance vibe.
It truly is a special night when Esscala brings multiple international trance stars to NYC for a night of trance. I love supporting the local scene, which for me takes me up and down the I-95 corridor, but you gotta be grateful to the guys who fly these guys across an ocean to make these parties happen on a regular basis. Amazing job by the DJ’s, the Esscala Crew and everybody to make for one of the best Esscalation nights to date.
Originally written for ENL by Disco Stu