On Friday night, we showed up to see the Swedish house legend John Dahlback grace the decks of New York nightlife giant Pacha. We arrived just as the opening DJs were finishing up and preparing for Dahlback to take over and the club was already packed, with glow sticks and glovers out in full force. The dance floor was crowded in front of the DJ booth, but the sides remained open enough for people to show off their moves.
Dahlback spent his roughly two-hour set in his own world, focused intensely on his DJing technique. He played plenty of vocal-heavy tracks with long build-ups and a pop-oriented sound. He dropped remixes of radio-friendly hits like Zedd’s “Clarity,” Calvin Harris’ “Sweet Nothings,” and Avicii vs. Nicky Romero’s “I Could Be The One” throughout his set, keeping the crowd engaged and singing along. Early on, he played his hit “Embrace Me” and the quiet chorus leading up to the drop filled the room with emotion while providing the crowd a moment of rest. Dahlback played his single “Don’t Stop” in the middle of his set and his newest track, “Nuke,” toward the end. Both songs feature a more aggressive, electro-heavy sound with some light dubstep influences, compared with his earlier music, and they worked well in the Pacha setting.
While Pacha is traditionally known for the house styles of producers like Erick Morillo, the venue can satisfy all different types of musical tastes and often features popular artists of all genres, from trance to dubstep. Dahlback’s reputation as a Swedish house producer brought in a young crowd most likely familiar with the conventional sounds of progressive house that are currently invading the mainstream pop aesthetic.
As usual, Pacha really took off after 2:30AM. Dahlback turned the decks over to the closing DJ duo, Grand & Warren, around 3:30 and the two New Jersey natives immediately started dropping a heavier beat, and even threw some hip hop into the mix, much to the excitement of the dance floor. The duo consists of James Alexander and DJ Gary Rabbit, who filled the club with energy and played off each other’s antics while spinning. They played recent crowd-pleasers like the R3hab & Quintino remix of Tiesto’s “Chasing Summers” and Tiesto’s collaboration with Wolfgang Gartner, “We Own The Night.” They even dropped a remix of Kaskade’s house classic “Angel On My Shoulder.” Staying true to their Jersey roots, they sampled a fair amount of Spanish-influenced songs toward the end of their set. When 6AM hit, there was a sizable group still in front of the DJ booth ready to keep it going. Grand & Warren have only been producing together for a year, but it’s clear that they’re headed to even better places further down the road.