Circoloco transforms Roman stadium into outdoor nightclub with Carl Cox and Maceo Plex
In Europe, the name Circoloco conjures images of wild nights at DC-10 orchestrated by the world’s top techno DJs. Though stationed in Ibiza, the revered party brand ventures outside the isle for various one-off flaunts. Such was the case last Sunday, as Circoloco took over Rome’s Stadio dei Marma for a night of epic proportions.
The chosen venue — an elegant track stadium festooned with statues and sculptures — was decked out with smooth flooring and a lengthy wall of lasers, giving it the feel of a giant outdoor nightclub. By 5pm, the stadium was occupied by a sea of Italians readying their groove to the classiness of Cassy. With the sun still high in the sky, the British DJ brought the dark techno out, and the Romans were loving it.
After her was the man of the moment, Maceo Plex, bringing his Balearic enthusiasm to the steadily-growing stadium crowd. Having spent plenty of his summer days in Barcelona and Ibiza, Maceo’s penchant for sweaty, sexy house music was more than evident. His years behind the decks materialized in his bold mixing style, highlighted by mind-numbing buildups and fearless transitions. Aside from his more recent Spanish influences, Maceo’s predilection for Chicago house and American funk came through, amalgamating into a style both raw and dirty, yet refined by years of experience. Maceo closed with his recent track — and ode to his new paradisiac home – “Conjure Balearia.” As the horns of the breakdown rang out over the stadium to a backdrop of a dying sunset, it signaled two things: the dawning of the night, and the beginning of Carl Cox’s three hour headlining performance.
I’ll be the first to admit it — I’ve caught the Carl Cox bug, and I can’t shake it. I knew the man was good, but it wasn’t until a few weeks back at Space where I caught a ten hour set from Carl that I gained a true reverence for him.
Watching from a distance, it was hard to tell the exact moment Carl took over, but as his first pulverizing techno beat came in, it was suddenly obvious: the Carl Cox show had begun. There’s something very characteristic about Carl’s selection in music — in my mind, he leans towards a more polished techno sound. The tracks he chooses are overtly clean — their kick and bass sing in harmony while upscale whooshes and swoops pervade the transitions.
As tracks congealed, making new composites altogether, I realized why I am so drawn to Carl’s style and the techno world in general. Having journeyed the US festival and club circuit the last few years, my mind has become accustomed to formulaic mixing. Every song has a 64 bar drop, a 32 bar build up, a breakdown to silence… the patterns become a bit too obvious. In the techno-sphere however, everything feels so much more organic.
I remember a specific moment where Carl had looped a simple piano melody, soon stripping all else away and letting it play for a while. He then brought in the bass so casually, as if it grew out of thin air. In another instance, Carl was ramping up for a massive crescendo. Upon unleashing the kick and bass, he held back just a little bit of subbass — not five seconds later, he let loose the real subbass. I’m never heard a DJ deliver two separate layers of subsonic material in such a way. His precision was truly breathtaking.
As midnight approached, the crowd was in the palm of his hand. With near minutes left, Carl appeared not to notice, lost in the visceral world of his multi-track mixing. When his manager told him the three hours had ended, he looked both genuinely surprised and disappointed. The man could have gone another two hours without a second thought.
If traveling abroad has taught me anything, it’s the sheer difference in music tastes between Europe and the US. The fact that Circoloco can take over a Roman stadium for a night with Carl Cox and Maceo Plex speaks volumes about the state of their music scene, and I couldn’t be more envious.