A-Trak showcased a considerable amount of DJ skill at his Converse Rubber Tracks show last night at the Echoplex. The three-time DJ World Champion juggled beats and scratched records like it wasn’t 2015. I couldn’t help wondering if the young crowd understood what he was doing, or appreciated how damn hard it is to do. His set was a refreshing showcase of technical ability as well as a strong display of his newfound stage presence. There was crowd surfing and water bottle showers and a nonchalant confidence that I had not seen from Alain Macklovitch before.
The last time I had seen A-Trak behind the decks was at Club Lure during a DJ Competition. A-Trak was one of the judges alongside Jazzy Jeff and Z-Trip, and dude did not look at all pleased. After the competition he shared the stage with Mark Ronson and played a bangin’ set, though he hardly even cracked a smile. Then again, it was his birthday (if memory serves) so that may have something to do with it.
Even then it felt like A-Trak was lacking a marketable identity. His solo work would occasionally catch the public (Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s “Heads Will Roll” Remix) but he didn’t have the twitter proliferation of a Diplo or the gold christened hits of a Skrillex. Time and again A-Trak’s output evidenced that he was a DJ first, and a producer second. He seemed to be in a character crisis.
That is until last year’s incredible Duck Sauce release. The Armand Van Helden co-created Quack record was a triumphant spectacle of a variety of dance genres, dabbling in Chicago House (“Charlie Chazz & Rappin Ralph”) as much as golden-era Disco (“Stereo Radio.”) There was even straight up silly and undeniably fun tracks like the ubiquitous “Barbara Streisand.” That record, covered in corny skits, allowed A-Trak to don the guise of Turntable Jokester, and he has really warmed up to that image, as has his fans.
It seems like A-Trak is at a high right now, which makes it fun to see him work. And work he certainly does. He mentioned to the crowd that the show, “Is like if I’m in my bedroom and playing some songs. I have no idea what I’m gonna play.” We were treated to a superb bit of spontaneous song selection, which required A-Trak to actually mix instead of just hit play. He played a trap heavy set, Ferg’s “Doe-Active” and Rae Sremmurd’s inescapable “No Flex Zone” both made appearances alongside Beyonce’s “7/11” and Mike Jones’s “Still Tippin.’” He also moved into heavy dubstep territory at times, all in all keeping the crowd lit from beginning to end.
A solid set from Com Truise prefaced him. I had always felt like Truise’s music was like being in a video game during headphone listening. It was still pretty video game-y last night (for real, every track feels like making an aerial discovery of a new region of Mario Land) but it works incredibly. I appreciated his ability to dabble between M83’s hardest space and Washed Out’s chillest. Truise is set to release his next work on February 18th, titled Wave 1.
Unfortunately, due to Lyft and traffic, I missed Body Language. It was a fucking burn because their new EP Infinite Sunshine has the most pleasant tropical house jams I’ve heard all year. Seriously, go listen to it. You can even download it FOR FREE here. It’s all palm trees and sunset-colored tank-tops and sand between your toes. Thankfully, they are headlining the Echo again in a few weeks, so I’m in luck and intend on catching every second.
Words: Ziv Biton
Photography: Farah Sosa
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