Take Me Back | First Person Stories | Shows | Festivals | Nightclubs | Tour Recaps and Festival Reviews
An open to close set is extremely rare nowadays. The only time I ever saw one for myself was when Sven Vath played for seven hours straight at Coda after being rained out of Electric Island. So it goes without saying that it would be impressive if a DJ did a North American tour consisting entirely of open to close sets. So, already impressed by the concept of the All We Have Is Now Tour, I set off to the club with much anticipation to see Will Clarke, Dirtybird darling and Tech House maven.
Wanting to pace myself, I arrive an hour after the start of the set, at 11 PM. There’s not much of a line outside, but inside there is a massive line stretching out from the start of the coat check counter down the hall to the bar. No wonder, seeing as how it’s -20 degrees Celsius outside. After checking my own heavy coat, I stepped into my familiar haunt. I noticed that almost all of Coda’s lights are in red, perfectly in theme for Valentine’s Day. It’s a perfect size of a crowd, too. I’ve seen Coda packed ass-to-elbows before (looking at you, Fisher), and I much prefer the number of people tonight. There are dedicated people on the dance floor but plenty of room to move around, and most of the bottle service booths are empty, save for a couple enjoying glasses of champagne.
I take a lap around to take photos of the club and partygoers. As we approach the DJ booth, my friend joining me takes in Will Clarke for the first time. “Wow. Look at his beard,” he says, scratching his own that is maybe a tenth of the size. It’s true that the beard is magnificent, but what I find even more striking about him is his energy. Some DJ’s can play it too cool, but during his entire seven-hour marathon of a set, Will Clarke lost absolutely no bounce and was so into the music and the energy of the crowd. It’s great to see a DJ who loves what they do.
I notice that the beginning two hours of the set, while still quite good, is at a slower tempo and is less intense than his usual sound. Tracks like “Childhood” by Chicola and “Ibn Sina” by Tone Depth are lower tempo (at 120 and 123BPM respectively) but are still compelling with just a touch of melancholy. The Dennis Ferrer remix of “Sights” (124BPM) by London Grammar is driving and incredibly beautiful, with the vocals of Hannah Reid so haunting. It’s not until 2:00 AM when he drops “Don’t Stop No Sleep” by Radio Slave, that the BPM kicks up and I recognize the Will Clarke sound I know and love. Driving, dirty, bass-heavy and compelling, I throw down with my crew and dance my heart out.
At 3:00 AM the crowd loses their minds to Will Clarke’s dirty remix of Nick Monaco’s “Drama” (124 BPM), I finally understand the pacing of his set. It had to be slower in the beginning, so heavy tracks like this would have an even greater impact. If he had started the set with “Drama”, or his incredible remix of “Bury a Friend”, there would be nowhere higher to go. By building the anticipation, and slowly turning up the BPM song by song, he could absolutely floor the crowd at Coda with his bass-heavy tracks at their fullest potential.
Towards the end of the night, I’m waved into the DJ booth as I’m snapping pictures. Will Clarke is bouncing and vibing along with the crowd, but he very kindly gives me a hug when I introduce myself as the author of the article about him. “Thanks for coming out,” he shouts in my ear, grinning broadly. I’m a bit star-struck so thankfully I don’t say anything dumb in response before he turns back to the crowd, launching into “U Take Me Higher”, the first release from his brand new All We Have Is Now label. And, true to the song’s name, the BPM and the energy of the crowd reached higher and higher thanks to Will Clarke’s deft hand.
*Featured Image Credit via The Author*