All photos courtesy of Sara Wass Photo
If New York has a reputation for too-cool-for-school crowds, the nearly 3,000 die-hard Tiësto fans who occupied NYC's Terminal 5 on Tuesday night for the dutch legend's A Town Called Paradise release party, surely did not get the memo.
The scene inside the iconic New York venue was EDM culture at it's very pinnacle— swarms of neon-clad dance-junkies swayed their bodies and pumped their fists to performances from of of the industry's most longstanding kingpins, who tapped a laundry list of collaborators to ensure the hit factor of his new album, many of whom were in attendance Tuesday night.
Before the man known as Tijs took the stage (in a tremendous blue suit, I must add) one of his selected proteges, the 18 year-old well-coifed "Bubbling UP" Danny Avila, warmed up the beat-thirsty crowd with a grabbag of massive drops, culminating in the rising star's most buzzy track to date, "Voltage." After Avila had his fun under Terminal's 5 beaming LEDs, it was time for the man of the hour. To applause heard on Coney Island, Tiësto emerged behind the DJ booth and got straight to business.
Tiësto's stock and trade has always been a well-crafted heart-tugging vocal anthem that sends your hands all the way to the stratosphere before the first drop. This album embraces that legacy, on full display Tuesday night. An early memorable moment came when he brought vocalist and album collaborator Michel Zitron on stage to lend his stellar pipes to a quasi-live performance of their track, "Red Lights." The crowd ate it up. They wanted that feeling of escape, a moment where they can let go and get lost in flowing melodies and lyrics about love and happiness. Tiësto knows his crowd better than anyone, and when the drop to "Red Lights" hit the speakers, there wasn't an unsatisfied customer in the house.
Perhaps the shiniest star of the night (next to Tiësto's) was Matthew Koma. Known for his soaring tenor on celebrated tracks like Zedd's "Find You" and Alesso's "Years," not to mention his songwriting on a Grammy-winning record you may have heard named "Clarity," Koma left his mark on Paradise in one of the album's most epic jams, "Wasted." Terminal 5's giant dancefloor swayed to Koma's tantalizing croons as their light-up bracelets (gifted to every attendee) illuminated the room with synchronized flashes of every color on the spectrum. One couldn't help but notice the chemistry between Tiësto and Koma as they shot each other celebratory looks and nods during the performance. If Tiësto is a god, his evident friendship with a regular guy from New York like Koma helped humanize him.
The starpower didn't stop there. Swedish power-duo Icona Pop took the stage with joyous vibes, belting their trademark Top 10, "I Love It." The crowd sang along in unison, helping the build up to one of the biggest moments of the night: A performance of Tiësto's "Let's Go," the track Icona Pop helped him premiere at Ultra a few months before.
Terminal 5's upper balcony housed 7UP's 7x7 VIP section, an area littered with beautiful people and expertly crafted drinks, including the custom A Town Called Paradise cocktail (a medley of fruit juices, 7UP, and a splash or two of vodka). Amid the mass of young fans, still going strong and having the time of their lives, I spotted an older couple below, decked out in Tiësto memorabilia, unbothered by the fact that they were probably the age of most of the revelers' parents. Tiësto's music does that to people--it's about the feeling, not about who you are or where you come from.
Before hanging up his custom headphones to call it a night, Tijs has one more surprise in store. He took to the microphone to bring out one of his former proteges, a fellow Dutchman who went from a virtual unknown to the biggest DJ in the world in a matter of a few years. Indeed, Hardwell was in the building. The elder statesman had Hardwell play wingman as they banged into their collabo, "Written In Reverse," as well as the production that sparked their friendship, "Zero 76." From that point on, the crowd was pretty much speechless (though not soundless). Tiësto dropped a few more tunes, thanked his devoted worshippers, and exited the stage into a haze a blueish fog.
As an artist, Tiësto has evolved a long way from the trancey, haunting melodies of "Adagio For Strings," and while some might decry how his sound has skewed towards the commercial, you can't deny the fact: Tiësto is still one of the best in the business.