What can one say about a DJ as prolific as DJ A-Trak? Well, you might start with how humble he is. For someone that won the biggest DJ competition in the world (DMC) at just fifteen years old (and has won many more since), has spun for KanYe West’s Larger than Life tour and shut down a plethora of big clubs around the world, you wouldn’t expect to see him in St. Louis, let alone a grungy basement full of college students.
About two weeks age, the evening began on a note like something out of a Mission: Impossible movie. There was a mysterious flyer circulating online via Facebook and some other social networks. The announcement was in: A-Trak was coming to St. Louis, but the party was to be at a secret location. The flyer announced his arrival, but gave no clue about the locality of his set. Friends called friends and friends of friends all day long to find a clue as to where the party might be. Around 10 PM things started getting frantic as Facebook timelines started to trend with “Where is this A-Trak party?” statuses. Finally, just before 12 PM, there was a tip that this was intended to be the after party for the kickoff of Washington University in St. Louis’ W.I.L.D. weekend – where libations and music, among other activities, are provided for the undergraduate populace at Wash U.
At 12:30, the phone rang. it was local DJ Reign Supreme on the other end. “We found it,” he said.
The following sequence of events is still somewhat hazy as they took place almost like a “jump cut” sequence in a sped up movie montage or a typical music video. When the “musical investigators” arrived, there was a music video-like sequence of greetings passed to and from the promoter of the party, Khiz. The already irate owner/renter of the house balked that this was to be a Wash U party only and that if anyone else was coming too, they had better turn around. The lead “investigator” informed the host that the group of 4 had indeed invited others, but they all backed out or got sleepy and that this was all they had coming. The owner quickly ushered the group into the underground basement in haste to try and avoid any early cancellation by the local law enforcement.
Once inside, the 4 encountered a crowded basement, replete with inordinate amounts of Red Bull (regular AND sugar free), a keg and an impromptu VIP section. When one described the basement – the plaster ceiling was falling on the floor, air ducts, and plumbing work were exposed and the stains on the floor made the whole place look like a cereal killer might hide bodies there on weekends.
The opening DJ was not good. Let’s just leave it at that. So the crowd was somewhat restless waiting on their musical guru. At a little after 1 AM, an announcement was made that A-Trak was en route. Lo and behold, about 15 minutes later, in walks DJ A-Trak and his Fool’s Gold partner Mateo. From the moment DJ A-Trak stepped behind the turntables, the mood in the room changed… At first, everyone clamored to get a picture or video to update their Facebook status or Tweet, but then something happened. The crowd suddenly engaged, with intense fervor and a huge party ensued.
Everyone was dancing and singing along to some hip hop classics as well as vibin’ to the house and electronic dance music that preceded it. The party was getting really high energy when things were cut short early and abruptly by the scent of natural gas in the basement. One can only assume that this resulted from the frenzied crowd wrapping on the ducts and whatever space was available on the 7-foot high ceiling at the high points of A-Trak’s set. The party was getting really good when it was cut short, but the hour or so set that A-Trak put on was better than what 90% of the local DJs in ANY city can do. Those of us who had the determination to find the party were given a real treat! Even more is that Mr. Trak stuck around for pictures afterwards.
In any genre, this is what the industry needs more of – grass roots secret parties that raise the bar when it comes to performance and engagement of the crowd. Thank you A-Trak. Thanks for being you. Keep it up!