Why Boys Noize was the undisputed champ of Electric Zoo Day 2
Alex Ridha is a man of little fanfare, little frills. A legend for his work in the German acid house and hard techno world, Alex humbly shies away from the spotlight, opting to just focus on what he does best: making and playing music. While some backstage entourages number in the dozens, Boys Noize prefers his close network of supporters and friends. Watching Datsik finish his set, Alex soaks in the crowd, the stage, the lights – the moment. It’s a usual pre-show ritual, his uncanny ability to distill all the chaos around him to the task at hand: a killer set.
I ask him what his set will be like. “I’m excited for this one,” he replies. I have already seen him three times prior this year already, but his excitement for this act feels different. He smiles at me and heads up the ramp to the stage as Datsik closes his set.
The crowd begins to fill the tent, sitting through the monster last track Datsik has played for the main event: Boys Noize. Buzz about Dog Blood’s show the previous night (catch the set here) had grown since and many are here to see Alex’s encore. Excited whispers are audible, and as Alex begins to spin his first song, the crowd screams in anticipation. And just like that, a modified edit of “XTC” is dropped.
Yellow smiley’s of Alex’s trademark branding fills the stage, pillars, and LED overhang. Flashing and spinning in bright yellow, scene is blinding – the mix of camera flash and stage lights overload the viewer’s cornea. No matter, Alex bounces to his trademark 1-2 shuffle and plays through “Inhale/Exhale” and “Starwin,” two from his latest EP.
The tent is clearly packed with fans only. Half the guys are pumping their raised fists with the beat, throwing their torsos up and down in unison. One particular fan in the front row is drenched in sweat, through both his tank and his towel. Boys Noize has arrived.
Why I was first drawn to his live sets was not solely his music. A Boys Noize set is not limited to simply acid house, hard techno, or any trademark sounds that Alex is known for. In Chicago, he and I once talked about his selection for tracks in his set. Curious, I tried to understand how his performances were so eclectic. He put it simply, “Just good music.”
Unafraid to branch his performances out to all genres, his surprise entries of Disclosure’s monster “Latch” and edits of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Head Will Roll” please the crowd to their delight. David Heartbreak and Simon Sayz’ “Acid Youths” is a particular hit, with its reggae-inspired feel – a total departure from the other music played all day at the festival. Many DJ’s (Krewella and Madeon to name a few) stop by the back to listen to the musicality of his performance, as if to pay their respects.
As Alex flies through Destructo’s “Technology” and eventually the underrated Tracques’ “Click Track,” he stares up from his perch on the stage. Waving and pointing to specific of the crowd, you realize that Alex is not in his own isolated world as some DJ’s are. He lives in the moment, cognizant of the appreciation of the performance he is putting on from the fans below.
Conscious to play the rest of his new EP, Boys Noize fits in “Excuse Me” and “Go Hard” into the set, along with his massive Dog Blood remix of “Wild for the Night.” Under the sweaty must of the tent, he refits his red cap on his head, persevering through the set. One particular highlight is Audion’s “Mouth to Mouth,” an enchanting ten minute techno journey created years before many of the fans at the festival even have heard of the word “EDM.”
Boys Noize finishes his set with a flurry, Harvard Bass and Green Velvet’s “Lazer Beams” giving way to the anthemic massive mashup of his remix of Chemical Brothers’ Swoon with his own “Yeah.” Even with the music through the speakers, the audience begins to scream and cheer for him, knowing the end is near. The feelings are tangible: the joy is endearing and the gratitude is overpowering. Even as Boys Noize bows after his set and claps for the audience, they begin chants of his stage name, carrying on over the music of the surrounding stages.
He packs quickly, and walks to the backstage area. Fans mob him near the rails, and he takes the time to thank them individually. A true class act, his genuine happiness matches those of his loyal listeners, who take quick moments to snap pictures with him, scream inaudible garbles of appreciation, and reach out just to grab the legend.
I take a moment to tell him how much he enjoyed his set, and he thanks me for attending.
No, from all of us, thank you Alex.