A-Trak at Muse Event Center, 6/12/14
|Sarah Stanley-Ayre; We didn't have any professional camera equipment with us, so please bear with our sketchily taken Samsung Galaxy photos!|
Muse Event Center, Minneapolis
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Though A-Trak is probably best known for his hip-hop remixes, what he brought to a crowd of young EDM enthusiasts at the Muse Event Center last night was more like a flashback to the initial surge of popularity in electro that hit L.A. several years ago with the rise of his fellow EDM purveyors such as Steve Aoki and the late DJ AM.
Several partygoers were upset that his set was lacking in the hip-hop beats they had eagerly anticipated. Instead, as strobe lights flashed violently and smoke machines pumped into the air, A-Trak stormed through a somewhat predictable list of familiar and reliable party-starters, like Yeah Yeah Yeah's "Heads Will Roll," and Chromeo's "Jealous (I Ain't With It)" -- in a direct nod to his brother David Macklovitch, who is one half of Chromeo.
The Muse Event Center, also confusingly called City Hall, is an interesting place. Tucked away on 3rd Avenue in the North Loop near the Bachelor Farmer, the venue was heavily guarded by both event security and Minneapolis police officers. Through two glass doors and past the entryway is one elongated room leading up to a stage, flanked on either side by a small balcony area where tuckered-out girls leaned against the railing to watch the dancefloor from above, their dates smushing into them from behind. One girl idly twirled a plastic glowing version of the traditional Okinawan martial arts Nunchaku, better known as nunchuks.
From the outside, the venue is reminiscent of a club in Chicago or New York, decorated by the well-dressed door guys looming over the sidewalk and the line of scantily-clad hipsters roping around the side of the building inhaling their cigarettes. Inside, two police officers in full uniform stood sentry at one of the back exits, ensuring that the door remained firmly shut from both the inside and outside. A bathroom attendant in a red gown handed us paper towels to dry our hands. A bro in a sombrero and a three-tiered backpack wandered the room.
|A-Trak scratches passionately atop his table|
Gimme Noise arrived just as opener Salva was exiting the stage in a flurry of applause. The drunk "woo woo" girls were woo-wooing at him expectantly as he introduced A-Trak to the tables. Suddenly the music stopped all together as A-Trak crept onstage. It's almost eery how similar he looks to his brother. Gimme Noise also had the pleasure of attending Chromeo's sold-out show in the First Avenue mainroom last month, and became more familiar with that brother's stage antics and facial expressions. If the brothers wanted to switch lives for a night, they could easily do so without many people noticing. Both share the same weirdly affixed smile, and have almost matching fashion senses.
Two girls in the front row wearing A-Trak T-shirts were dancing as if they were possessed by the music, screaming the words to every song and flailing their hands in the air. A guy in a neon green T-shirt reading, "Damn son, where'd you find this?" wandered from one side of the room to the other. The floors were suspiciously shiny, as if the bar near the stage had leaked all over them. We walked with the illusion that we may slip and fall at any moment. A sound gaffe occurred almost immediately, plunging the room into silence. "The sound tech better get it together," remarked a random guy, as the silence continued and bros paced anxiously.
|We caught these guys taking a distracted selfie|
The sound kicked back in abruptly and thunderously, along with the strobes. "April Fool's! Fool's Gold!" A-Trak yelled into his mic, in a reference to his label Fool's Gold. He climbed up onto his tables and began scratching furiously as a hype guy threw shirts into the audience. In the late '90s, A-Trak developed his own notation system for scratching. He was once a member of the now-defunct DJ crew Invisibl Skratch Piklz. His scratching skills are undeniable. At the age of 15, he even won the DMC World DJ Championship, as both the youngest and first Canadian to ever take home the prize.
Throughout the beginning of his set, he did appear somewhat stressed. The bouncers at the front of the crowd seemed more amused, gently corralling the crowd behind the barricades. People moved eagerly to the choppy electro beats, autotune voices carrying over the searing electronic saw noises. A bro with a wide smile stood front and center, aggressively chewing a piece of gum as his eyes scanned the crowd. A-Trak continued scratching in between each track, somewhat gratuitously at times. Girls screamed, the screams occasionally mounting into the sounds of an angry colony of feral cats.