Athens Calling: Tiësto Invades Indie-Rock Mecca

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Tiësto Photo by Ian Witlen

Athens, Ga.—Easily one of the most recognizable names in today’s DJ scene, Tiësto has performed high-profile shows all over the world. He even played a gig at the opening ceremonies of the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. So, what could possibly be left to conquer for the famed Dutch DJ/producer? Well, Athens, Ga.—America’s longtime indie-rock mecca—for one. And, in a broader sense, he’s taking on the entire continental college market.

Running through Oct. 8, Tiësto’s College Invasion Tour is a 20-date North American jaunt that stretches from campuses in Ontario to California. This past weekend, DJ Times was able to experience the invasion firsthand, as it came to The Classic Center in Athens—home of the University of Georgia—on an otherwise quiet Sunday night.

As most know, Athens has been a fertile musical breeding ground for a variety of artists representing a slew of American styles. From New Wave legends The B-52’s to jam-band faves Widespread Panic, from hitmaking producer Danger Mouse to recently departed indie icons R.E.M., the town’s legacy remains rich. But a DJ show in a town like this from the guy who plays the world’s biggest clubs and festivals? Yup, enter Tiësto and upstart Porter Robinson—here to melt the faces of Athens’ collegiate youth for a night, and did they ever set it off for a local audience that likes to get its groove on.

Porter Robinson, a 2011 America’s Best DJ nominee and hot off his newly released debut EP, Spitfire (OWSLA), rocked the crowd with an early 8:30 opening slot. Relying on electro-house as his main ingredient, the 19-year-old newcomer sprinkled in remixes of hits like “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger,” “Babylon” and “I Remember.” Aside from an early MIDI-controller malfunction and ear-splitting beat-roll cover-up, Robinson’s set went over well. His own breakout remix of Spencer & Hill’s “Less Go” was a crowd favorite, but he neglected to play several of the tracks off of his new EP.

It’s clear that Tiësto has finally completed his transition from trance legend to house guru—for this tour, anyway—leaving many devoted fans intensely divided on the issue. In fact, First State’s “Falling,” a Tiësto staple and Porter Robinson’s opening track, was the only trance song that I heard all night. Still, Tiësto’s selections were tight. His two-hour set featured his yet-to-be-released remix of Kanye West’s “Lost In The World,” “Zero 76” (his collaboration with Hardwell off of Club Life, Volume 1: Las Vegas), the recent “Work Hard, Play Hard” (featuring vocalist Kay), and “C’Mon” (a 2010 collaboration with Diplo). He closed the night out with the massive “Maximal Crazy,” just as he did when he debuted the track at Ultra Music Festival in Miami earlier this spring.

The blitzkrieg of house music concluded at midnight, a reasonable time—presumably so the students could retreat and recover in time for their morning classes.

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