From the moment it came out last April, Gareth Emery’s second studio album Drive was seen as an instant classic. Blending elements from all flavors of EDM, the album is melodic, vocal, and memorable. Lead-off single U exploded through the door of the scene, and took a Concrete Angel-esque tour across the dance world, finding its way into sets and podcasts, with a number of quality remixes and mashups accompanying it.

How, though, would the music translate into a live set by way of its creator? He himself set out to find the answer to that question earlier this month, embarking on a worldwide Drive Tour in support of the release. Last Thursday was the eighth stop on the tour, as Gareth and supporting DJ Kyle Rayner came to NYC’s Lavo to play to a tightly-packed, highly enthusiastic crowd.

The headliner’s energy radiated throughout the club from behind the decks, as he crafted a set that entranced casual listeners and devotees alike. Those who follow him will know that Gareth’s sound design and songwriting puts him in the elite category of producers. Drive represents those elements in their 2014 form, but it also brings with it a collection of melodies that are as memorable as anything released recently. Melody is perhaps the only true musical constant on the diverse album. Even after one listen, it’s clear these were not cheaply written hooks; heart, time, and TLC went into creating these songs. Conveniently, this translates amazingly into a live production, one where the crowd belts out the words along with the music, and the frisson level stays at a consistent high.

The set at Lavo contained the best tracks from the album, many in remix form. Kicking off his sets (customarily as of late) was Entrada, the album’s opener. As the lights went down and the beat kicked in, everyone in the room knew that this was the moment; Gareth was making his presence known. Full of energy, Gareth welcomed the crowd, and the track’s familiar groove kicked in. The room lit up. The crowd was ready.

What followed was a masterfully crafted two-hour set of high intensity, curated by the man himself. Peppered throughout were classic Gareth tracks, showcasing the Garuda sound he has built through his label’s history. Met with signature Trance Family enthusiasm was Javelin, a melodic high-energy collaboration with Ben Gold. The track, a perfect stylistic addition to the night, combines their styles and captures the Garuda spirit. With the energy in the room peaking, Gareth transitioned to the track in rapid fire, chaining heavy-hitters Tokyo and DUI. These tracks blended with the addictive synth line of Firebird, Drive’s new Garuda smash, showing the crowd all sides of the multi-talented producer, DJ, and label boss.

Gareth Emery pulled out all the stops at Lavo, reading the crowd as aptly as always, and delivering a set of pure intensity. Smashes like Lights & Thunder played early to a huge response, and the vibe grew later with classics like Alesso vs. One Republic’s If I Lose Myself. A well-rounded set all the way. 

As the evening’s close drew near, the vibrance of the crowd radiated as strongly as the hours prior. Gareth dropped the recent contest-winning remix of his own Eye of the Storm, paying homage to the up-and-comers BL3R who were selected out of thousands of entries to win. Before closing, he enticed the crowd with one last singalong to the always appropriate Concrete Angel.  

An established artist is evolving in front of our eyes. Drive continues to grow in popularity, and Gareth’s shows continue to portray his ever-growing level of talent. Don’t miss the chance to see it live if the opportunity arises.

Originally written for ENL by Zalex Ruimy

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