Uncasville, Conn.—Believe it or not, Connecticut is no stranger to dance music.
With the growing proliferation of electronic music on Top-40 radio, some of the biggest names in house are coming to the state and drawing huge crowds—Avicii, Kaskade, Max Vangeli, Laidback Luke, etc.
But, has the scene reached a point where “the biggest DJ of all time” can fill a 10,000-seat venue? Apparently, Tiësto thought so and that’s exactly what he did this past week at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville.
The evening started with the Dutch duo, Bingo Players, who looked like they just hit the lotto jackpot—which I suppose is almost as good as the opening slot on the Tiësto tour. They eased us into the vibe with a low-volume set feature largely vanilla electro and mainstream dance hits from the likes of Guetta, Daft Punk, and remixes of radio staples. With little in the way of stage production and lighting, I struggled to stay awake, but the crowd on the floor was too amped to stay still. And by the end of their set the lighting tech pressed a button, the engineer boosted the fader and the energy really picked up—perfectly setting us up for the big show.
Anticipation built with a small pause between the sets. Lights began to move, the volume swelled and the 50-foot LED wall came to life. The sheer size of the stage production was awe-inspiring, even before the man of the hour hit the DJ booth.
Just then, Tiësto strolled onto the stage with a wave and a coy smile like he knew what was coming, and you wished you did. He wasted no time and began a total onslaught of energy, but not the typical fluffiness of trance. It was a mosh of aggressive, distorted basslines, stabbing synthesizers, and soaring female vocals, all mixed with aplomb. The festival-level production was complete with pyrotechnics, futuristic motion graphics, and confetti canyons, which got the floor jumping in unison with hands in the air and spirits just as high. Even the people on the upper levels were dancing on their seats.
Over a full two and half hours, Tiësto achieved the full ebb and flow of a seasoned, professional DJ set, perfectly timed to manipulate emotions and senses like a Broadway spectacle or Vegas magic show. He interspersed hits by Calvin Harris, Gotye, and Avicii with unrecognizable bangers and even some breakbeats. The highlight came when he dropped the new single from Cedric Gervias—the acid-laced “Have You Seen Molly?”
I’d be surprised if he got over 129 BPM, but that just proves that there is more to trance than simply speed. In fact, Tiësto and Swedish House Mafia may be indistinguishable at this point, except Tiësto does what SHM wished they could do with two less employees on the payroll. Ultimately, a great night for CT and a great night for dance music.
– Robert LaFrance