“It's surreal but normal at the same time, isn't it?" is what I said to Richie Hawtin right before he took the stage at the Westcott Theater. Sitting on an equipment case, he turned to me and gave me a smiling “yeah.”
The tour started in Buffalo two days ago, but it really didn't feel like we had quite started until we hit the stage prepping for the Syracuse show at the Wescott. Thanks to Hurricane Sandy, this was our first show instead of the once scheduled Buffalo.
Syracuse University had to cancel their classes as a precaution due to the weather, along with the CNTRL lecture. However, the show indeed went on as we drove straight from Buffalo in the afternoon. We had somewhat of a mini-emergency: we had forgotten a very important case of materials in the storage place in Buffalo. Luckily, I remembered that a few participants of the Buffalo lecture had mentioned to me they were planning on making it to the Syracuse show. As a team we got on to CNTRL's Facebook page and asked our fans if anyone was also doing so, if they could pick the case up on their way. Soon, we had our answer from dedicated fans.
When we arrived in Syracuse, set up began immediately. I've photographed and been on stage at countless shows, but I must say that there is some element about being there from set up to take down that gives the whole show experience both familiarity and anticipation. You see the Funktion One monitors put up before you, the turntables, CDJs, and other equipment carefully installed. Before each show, there is a calm anticipation—technically a juxtaposition, but it makes sense to anyone who has performed in front of people before. It's the turning wheels behind the magic.
Talking to locals at the show, I realized how special this tour really is for many people. Being in a major city, you tend to lose sight that not everywhere in the country has the luxury of so many amazing artists passing through. Many of the fans that came out last night were grateful that the tour selected their small town to come through, as apparently not many techno artists come to play. I believe that now is as good a time as ever with the whole EDM popularity going on, not just to reach out to new listeners, but to solidify ties with old ones. It strengthens us as a community to remind ourselves that there are others who love this music as well.
The display of dedicated fans carried on throughout the night. A student from the Buffalo lecture had driven in for the Syracuse show, not wanting to miss this opportunity. Their effort was rewarded—Richie Hawtin hung out with the crowd listening and chatting to fans that approached him. With so many rockstar DJs having the god-like image of being untouchable in their booths, it is absolutely refreshing to see the DJs connect with their fans. After all, without them they would not be where they are today. It is something electronic music champions: connecting and being inspired by new people.