Alesso’s 21st Birthday – Governors Island – NYC Review
Fans started lining up for the Governors Island Ferry at 2:30 PM, even though the show was far from beginning, and even though the day’s weather forecast showed thunderstorms approaching New York City. It felt as though nothing would stop a sold-out crowd from celebrating the 21st birthday of house superstar Alesso with the birthday boy himself. Upon stepping off the ferry and onto Governors Island Beach Club, New York City’s summertime mecca for dance music, fans’ energy spiked noticeably. This was going to be a long day – and night – of celebrating.
Carl Kennedy was first on the day’s line-up. It was easy to tell that this New York-based DJ has been in the EDM game for an exceptionally long time; he played an effortless four-hour set to an already-packed crowd (even though there were hours left until the headliner was set to begin). Kennedy spoke to the crowd very early on in the day, calling his set a “warm-up,” but it didn’t feel that way despite the 100-degree-plus weather: a whirlwind of tracks kept the audience moving.
As if to tease fans, plane flew over downtown NYC with a “Happy Birthday Alesso” sign trailing behind, even though the birthday boy’s set was hours away. After Carl Kennedy came Otto Knows, another rising star signed to Sebastian Ingrosso’s record label Refune. His just-released remix of “Kick Out The Epic Motherf***er” kept everyone on their toes, along with “Feel” by Third Party and Cicada and a mash-up of “We Are Your Friends” with the Avicii/Nicky Romero collab “NickTim.” When the sun set and lights and lasers came out, Otto played his biggest hit to date, ‘Million Voices’, combined with the vocals of One Republic’s “Apologize.” It was an especially “feel-good” set that kept the vibe upbeat.
Anjunabeats/Axtone signee Arty, who will be touring with Identity Festival this summer, took to the decks after Otto Knows. The stunning visuals truly added to Arty’s original set, which included his own “Trio”overlaid with the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ classic “Otherside” vocals. When he dropped a bootleg of “Heart Is King,” REM’s “Losing My Religion,” and his own “Rock n Rolla” remix of “Punk,” the crowd went crazy in the best way possible.
Elektro sat down with Alesso just before his set, and he mused that the day was what was he’s “been dreaming of,” calling New York City among his favorite in the world. His excitement was evident, but his pre-show nerves still showed through. This was the first Governors Island dance show to sell out in recent memory, so the pressure was definitely on Alesso to deliver; however, once he learned that countless fans were wearing homemade shirts in honor of the occasion, he could only respond, “I’m so happy, it makes me almost want to cry.” He didn’t shed any tears, but instead showed NYC how a superstar DJ rocks out on his birthday.
The minutes seemed much longer after Arty finished his set. The crowd, in excitement and perhaps impatience, chanted “USA! USA!” to welcome the native Swede. Simply put, the real celebration was about to begin. Alesso started off with one of his newer records, “Clash,” combined with Gotye’s ubiquitous “Somebody That I Used To Know” vocals. From there, the DJ segued to a high-energy mix of Deniz Koyu’s “Hertz” blended the sing-a-long lyrics of “Paradise,” which dropped into his first big hit, “Nillionaire.” When asked about the track before the show, Alesso told elektro that he is “definitely going to make a sequel” to the powerful production that put him on the map.
It wouldn’t be an Alesso set without a hint of Swedish House Mafia’s influence; the group has been his biggest supporters and a huge source of inspiration for him. The Swedes’ latest single, “Greyhound” pumped through the speakers next, followed by an unexpected mash-up of his own “Raise Your Head” into “Epic,” two tracks that never fail to bring the bass. He also dropped his as-yet-unreleased collaboration with Dirty South, “City Of Dreams.” which fans loved.
Alesso’s set ended with a string of his most notable vocal remixes: “Titanium,” “Calling,” and “Pressure,” the latter of the three being among biggest dance hits of 2011. Alesso’s current style of progressive house is extremely energetic and uplifting, and although some criticize his style as too mainstream and crowd-pleasing, it was impossible not to enjoy the set: the happy, jumping fans put all their effort into singing along with the last few songs songs, while confetti rained down around them.
The night wasn’t over yet; it was time to make the pilgrimage to Pacha, for the official after-party. Alesso’s set had a slightly sexier, more grown-up feel to it, especially when he dropped “Valodja,” an older hit from the Angello brothers and “Metropolis.” The set took an emotional turn when his his highly-anticipated new single “Years” filled the room, allowing us to reflect on the full day of celebrations – exhausting, to be sure, but also incredibly uplifting and a fantastic time overall. We can’t imagine a more fitting birthday for Sweden’s young prince of house.