Friday Night: W&W at Stereo Live
Photos by Julian Bajsel
W&W Stereo Live May 3rd, 2013
It's a good time to be Ward van der Harst and Willem van Hanegem, the duo collectively known as W&W. On the festival scene, they've played Ultra in Miami and will be headed to EDC Las Vegas in a few weeks. Their friendship with Armin Van Buuren (who will be in town on the 23rd) resulted in the popular "D# Fat" and lead to them playing in Madison Square Garden as part of A State Of Trance 600. Things for the duo are very good.
Maybe that's why Friday night at Stereo Live felt a little different. Twenty minutes before they hit the stage the dance floor was packed and electric, people already grooving and chanting. The opening DJ does not always get that kind of crowd.
At that point it probably didn't matter what W&W decided to start things off with, but when they hit the stage and dropped "Lift Off" it felt like, if only for a moment, Stereo Live just might fly into space.
Russ: Did It My Way Tour
TicketsSat., Aug. 6, 6:00pm
World Famous Gospel Brunch at House of Blues Houston
TicketsSun., Aug. 7, 1:30pm
TicketsSun., Aug. 7, 8:00pm
The Noise Presents: Periphery - Sonic Unrest Tour
TicketsTue., Aug. 9, 6:00pm
TicketsWed., Aug. 10, 7:00pm
Before talking about the music, a few words must be said about the crowd that showed up for Friday night's show. The energy level the people displayed was borderline unreal. Every time the duo moved on to a new track the crowd exploded as if what they were hearing was the best song in the world. Even as the set moved past the hour and a half mark they kept finding the energy to jump up and down and sing their hearts out when they had the chance.
And when the songs had no words, they just sang the music.
As for the set itself, it felt almost like a festival set in the speed which songs came and went, not to mention just how massive many of the tracks sounded. The duo know how to control a crowd, whipping them in to a frenzy with banger after banger, only to slow it down with something more relaxed, only to then drop another big track to get them moving again.
While their original material is certainly solid (there's a reason for their popularity independent of their live mixing skills), the set really shined when they busted out some of the more inventive remixes and mashups I've heard in recent memory. In particular was a mix of Hardwell's "Spaceman" and Above & Beyond's "Thing Called Love" that was borderline genius; people love singing A&B songs and "Spaceman" is a beast of a track, so combining them together is the type of thing that just destroys a room.
Not to mention, they sprinkled other big crowd pleasers into the set, including "Language" (Porter Robinson), "Clarity" (Zedd), and "Cannonball" (Showtek & Justin Prime). A series of tracks like that might have worn out a regular crowd but as previously mentioned, this crowd was something else.
It's a good thing that Nightculture is bringing in some big names this month, because for the crowd that made it out Friday night the bar has been raised, and I don't envy the DJs coming up who will have to try and top W&W.
Personal Bias: W&W were one of the big surprises, along with Tritonal and Modestep, for me at last fall's Something Wicked Festival, so it was nice to see them back in town. (That said, I'm still waiting on the return of Zedd.)
The Crowd: Young, with excellent arm (as judged by the amount of time they held them in the air), leg (as judged by the amount of jumping they did), and neck/shoulder (as judged by the amount of guys nice enough to hold their female friends on their shoulders, chicken-fight style) strength.
Overheard In the Crowd: Last week I watched a Paul Van Dyk crowd completely drop the ball on Above & Beyond's "Sun & Moon." The W&W crowd did a much better job singing the track, as well as a few other big singalong moments.
Random Notebook Dump: I watched a guy pull out his phone mid-set, pull up Shazam, and try to find out what track W&W were playing. He knew it wouldn't work, but he gets points for trying all the same.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.