At 12:20 on Sunday morning, a cheer swelled from the crowd of sweaty, costumed coeds at Segredo. The ghosts, teenage mutant ninja turtles, slutty fill-in-the-blanks, kandi kids and club-goers stopped churning for a moment and looked up: Wolfgang Gartner had finally arrived.
The Top 100 DJ opened his set with obvious technical skill, whirling the knobs and pressing the buttons like a concert pianist plucks at the keys. The crowd’s attention, however, was on different matters. The audience of roughly 500 was bobbing, fist pumping, grinding and shoving, only coming up for air in the few moments of silence before a build.
Those who were listening to more than the persistent thump heard a set filled with unreleased remixes, Wolfgang classics and transitions with varied degrees of seamlessness. Wolfgang Gartner has a reputation for playing unexpected sets, and this weekend was no exception: His single “Forever” with Will.I.Am was absent, but a split second flirt with Swedish House Mafia’s “Save the World” found its way in.
The set dragged initially, lending credibility to complaints that Wolfgang’s tracks all sound the same. While the show picked up as it went along, there was a moment where it actually was the same: The DJ slipped one track in twice. Yet while there were certainly moments of monotony, tracks like “Illmerica” and “Wolfgang’s 5th Symphony” shone through and set the crowd spinning.
Armed with flashing LED foam sticks, the crowd jammed the dance floor and spilled out into the bar space around the stage. Yet besides the writhing bodies, there wasn’t much for them to look at. Wolfgang’s visuals were nonexistent, something likely keeping him in the bottom half of the Top 100. While he had video, it was a short loop flashing his name with blinking shapes, an effect more commonly found among openers rather than main acts.
Wolfgang typically has a light show to make up for his video, but the elaborate lights seen at festivals and larger venues were absent from Segredo, as they are for most small clubs. The black light, laser-like spinners and dizzying strobe light in the club were impressive for a venue of Segredo’s size but a bit lackluster for those accustomed to meticulously orchestrated light shows.
For his part, Wolfgang did seem to put more energy into this show than shows past. While the DJ stayed firmly rooted behind his controls, he led the crowd in claps, did his own version of a fist pump and sang along to “Get ‘Em,” his recent collaboration with Eve, and his remix of The Ting Ting’s “Hands.”
After just more than an hour and a half, the final chords of “Animal Rights” were ringing, the crowd was gasping for more and Wolfgang made his exit. After its less-than-inspired beginning, the show ended on a high: Wolfgang tweeted the night was “unbelievable,” the crowd was left with a Deadmau5 collaboration they actually knew and the boys at Segredo and Electronic Dance Madison had their video footage of a party done right. As the crowd shuffled out of the club and into the reality that is University Avenue at bar time, one thing was clear: Madison is ready for more electronic.