If there’s one word I would use to describe the regular crowd at Pacha New York City, it would be “animals.” How fitting that young superstar DJ-producer Martin Garrix would kick off his U.S. tour there, with Jay Hardway and DJ duo Grand & Warren supporting. I’ve been to Pacha many times and am no stranger to waiting in line for the hottest DJs in EDM culture that this superclub consistently books. I was amazed, however, to see the longest Pacha line I’ve ever witnessed on Friday night. Throngs of fans stretched back for blocks and wrapped around avenue corners. The street was practically shut down and cops were out in force.
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I watched the show from the VIP level at Pacha, which also serves as the entry point to a short flight of stairs down into the DJ booth. As I watched Jay Hardway, who collaborated with Garrix on their recent track “Wizard,” warm up the crowd, I also was on the lookout to see if I could catch Garrix brush past me. But in the rush of his entourage arriving, I must have missed him, because before I knew it, a thin figure ducked into the DJ booth and triumphantly announced to New York City that he was Martin Garrix.
The burning question in my mind was when Garrix would choose to play “Animals.” To my surprise, he started off all guns blazing with the Botnek edit of the megahit that has taken EDM culture by storm. The club erupted. Garrix's set was accentuated by many of his own custom edits of festival anthems, at times incorporating familiar vocals that the crowd chanted throughout the night. My personal favorites were a mashup edit of "Tsunami" by Borgeous with "Can't Hold Us" by Macklemore & Lewis, as well as Sebastian Ingrosso and Tommy Trash's "Reload" with vocals from Calvin Harris - "Flashback" layered on top.
Garrix's high-powered set had the crowd raging for 2 hours non-stop. It was now 3:30 AM, and it was up to Grand & Warren, the New Jersey-homegrown DJ-producer duo, to match Garrix's energy and keep the crowd at Pacha stimulated into the early morning. And boy did they deliver.
Grand & Warren started strong with their very own track "Tres," a collaboration with Damien Anthony, and the crowd was instantly hooked. They delivered an impressive set that spanned multiple EDM genres, showcased their original productions, and kept the club packed till the sun came out. When the duo dropped Blasterjaxx’s “Puzzle” after 4 AM, the crowd was jumping and cheering with the same fire that Garrix sparked earlier. At one point while I was in the DJ booth, a fan perched onto his friend’s shoulders and raised his crutches in approval - truly an amazing sight. Standing behind Grand & Warren, I noticed the amazing chemistry they had sharing the decks as a duo, both taking an active part in queuing up songs to play, making adjustments to the mix, and hyping the crowd. As the early morning approached, the pair continued to own the crowd’s energy - taking the tempo down with deeper, techier house and re-injecting big room tracks at calculated moments.
The powerhouse DJ lineup of Jay Hardway, Martin Garrix, and Grand & Warren delivered such a riveting performance on Friday night that Pacha seemed like a new club entirely.