The crowd on Saturday was a mix of die-hard A-Trak fans (one I talked to traveled from Indiana to see the Scratchmaster himself) and young professionals hot off their weekly business bender of 9 to 5 shifts. Whether there for the music, the madness, the mocktails, or all of the above, they were all there at Sway and ready to see the place burn down in proverbial flames from the heat anticipated off smoldering spins, scratches, and samples.
At midnight, as if the sea of people was transformed bibbity-bobbity-boo style courtesy of Cinderella’s fairy godmother and a trio of talking mice- #squadgoals- the vibe immediately went from typical Saturday night to totally turnt as A-Trak appeared a la Prince Charming. The intimate space of Sway felt more sophisticated and culturally ahead of the curve of its High Street competitors, as if it was the Royal Ball and those not in attendence were in for some major FOMO.
The Canadian born DJ is known for his flexible sets and intuitive mixes based on the crowd’s reactions… this night was no different and perhaps one of the highlights. His ability to switch from old school hip-hop to a hard dub step mix of Martin Solveig’s “+1” then back to a Top 40 rap banger satiated the ear-candy cravings of all involved. He transitioned from song to song organically and in the moment. An overall A-grade night out can be completely created off an effortless atmosphere alone in which each song played is “your” song…. A-Trak did just that.
He began with a scratch and bass-heavy track followed by a series of phenomenal drops of which the beat would build and held onto just long enough to keep the crowd on their toes (and anxiously awaiting to press the button to record their Snap Chat videos). “Place On Earth”, by the artist and Zoofunktion, began with its peppy piano-rich house sound but was then masterfully mixed to further funkify the synths and repetitive kick bass. It went from a big, bright anthem to a moombah tribute…but wait, it got even better. From there he spun it into Rihanna’s “Bitch Better Have My Money” for one of the most raucous moments of the night.
While cell phones were held high and inhibitions on the low, the DJ then went into a series of newer rap chart toppers like Rae Sremmurd’s “Come Get Her” before putting his thing down, flipping, and reversing it with, wait for it, Will Smith’s 1990 “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” theme song. Mind blown and so many nostalgic feels (cut to me doing the “Carlton” pressed up against other 80s babies thoroughly enjoying the flashback).
I could argue that A-Trak is best at his hip hop and rap-influenced mixes, but what he wrapped up with makes me question not only that, but also my entire human existence. He busted out nearly every recent single of his, from “Place On Earth” to “Out The Speakers” to “We All Fall Down”. Literally the only cherry that could have topped his double-decker extra fudge sundae of a set would have been “Ray Ban Vision”, a 2010 collab he did with Cyhi the Prynce.
Sweaty and satisfied. That’s my takeaway. If it’s not quite eloquent enough, I’ll leave you with the parting words of one club goer that went from stranger to instant bestie within a moment of exchanged wide-eyed glances…. “It is lit, fam.”