Richie Hawtin’s ENTER. brought techno perfection to Escape All Hallow’s Eve
Every now and then, you come across one of those rare nights with the right DJ, the right crowd, and the right system. This past weekend, I came across two.
Insomniac’s All Hallow’s Eve boasted one defining advantage over HARD Day of the Dead: Richie Hawtin’s ENTER. stage. Techno at Insomniac events is nothing new, and in fact, Richie Hawtin’s ENTER. stage isn’t either. Yet the lineup for this year’s newly branded Halloween festival was enough to leave any self-respecting techno fan haunted with desire. Names like Tale of Us, Hot Since 82, Recondite, Gaiser, and Matador do not make it to the states often, nor do they play alongside legends like Loco Dice, Luciano, and Hawtin when they do. Ultimately, Escape’s techno lineup was an opportunity too rare to pass up.
It wasn’t only the artists that made the stage so special; it was the entire vibe of the room. The thing about Richie Hawtin’s ENTER. concept is that it’s meticulous from the sound system down to the last laser. Taking the aesthetic from his world famous party at Space Ibiza, Hawtin and crew enacted a techno paradise. The lights were low, the fog was thick, the air was warm — the room was alive with immaculately mixed frequencies. Above the booth hung a single LED ring, flaring in intensity like Tolkien’s Eye of Sauron.
Hot Since 82 was a clear standout from the first night. Anticipation is a DJ’s best friend, and Hot Since 82 is a master of it. His extended build ups riled the crowd into a frenzy as he launched reverb-trenched cymbal hits and snares. Dropping Maceo Plex’s “ENTER.Space” transported us all to the White Isle.
Jon Gaiser was a special treat. Anytime you’ve got a classically trained musician making minimal techno, interesting results are bound to occur. Gaiser floored the room with tracks from his new album False Light, laying down the perfect foundation for the night’s closing: a two-hour set from ENTER.’s curator.
Richie Hawtin is a DJ of many faces. He’s just as comfortable shaping a brutal minimal set as he is a mind-bending experimental one. On this particular night, he was the conductor of the ENTER. techno ensemble. Wielding drum machines and sample decks, Hawtin precisely controlled every single element, orchestrating a live techno performance. Manifesting a sort of techno-limbo state, Hawtin carried us along at a comfortable pace, improvising every moment with creative ease. The set culminated with a live remix to Recondite’s “Caldera” before sending us off with five minutes of ambient bliss.
Day 1 may have set the precedent, but Day 2 brought out ENTER.’s true potential. As usual, Damian Lazarus showcased his wizardry behind the decks, conjuring transitions that don’t make logical sense. Tale of Us continued the trend of unconventional mixing while bringing an apocalyptic energy to the room. Shall Ocin “Orbis” was an early treat emitting that dark Ellum flavor.
For the next 4 and a half hours, we were treated to consecutive sets from Richie Hawtin, Loco Dice, and Luciano. Standing in the room was like tribal meditation. The drums carried on, stubborn in their persistence, only to slip away at the will of the DJ. Their reintroduction was like the re-summoning of our kinetic energy. The hours passed; the DJs handed off the decks and when all was said and done, the three legends had pummeled the room into a heap of sweaty shirts and worn out shoes.
Photo Credit: Insomniac