What does Thomas Gold have in common with Kaskade, Deadmau5, and Swedish House Mafia? After last Saturday (Jan. 26) night, they’ve all headlined sold-out, Live Nation-backed shows at New York's historic Roseland Ballroom.
The most unfamiliar name on that list, Germany native Gold, has become one of the hottest names on the dance music touring circuit in the past year. Associated with Axtone, Swedish House Mafia member Axwell’s label for his original releases, he’s also done remixes for major singles by artists like Lady Gaga and Adele, with another coming soon of OneRepublic’s “Feel Again.” He also hosts “Fanfare!,” a weekly radio show on SiriusXM. And he’s played some of the biggest festivals in the world, including Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and New York.
Gold brought his Fanfare World Tour to the Big Apple last weekend, hosting his first major headlining show since selling out his gig at Governors Island in August. Expectations among New York fans were high for his hotly anticipated return, as was demand for tickets. Many were sold for well over face value on StubHub the day of the show.
New York is like a second home for Gold. "I think it's the energy of the people. It's just how crazy they go, how reactive they are," he said from the green room prior to his set. "Whenever I come here, on Twitter and Facebook people go crazy.”
To separate himself from the other DJs that have played Roseland, Gold brought along a few tricks rarely seen at dance shows nowadays: live musicians. Several times during the show, a drum line and trumpet players joined him, opting for something a bit more analog to complement the digital production elements that have come to define DJ acts.
“[Roseland is] one of the most beautiful indoor venues you can play," he said. "It has a history, the sound system, the lights… It's all amazing."
Gold took to the booth at 1:30 a.m., and put Roseland’s sound system and myriad lasers to work during his 150-minute set, longer than usual for a headliner. He followed opening performances by Italian duo Nari & Milani and Feenixpawl (the masterminds behind 2012 hit “In My Mind”), and CLMD (Carl Louis and Martin Danielle).
Gold dropped tracks both vocal and instrumental, playing established EDM bangers like Deniz Koyu's "Bong," to Avicii and Nicky Romero's "Nicktim," but peppered in well-known sing-alongs like Calvin Harris and Florence Welch's "Sweet Nothing" and Justice's "We Are Your Friends." He showed off his ability to maximize a memorable vocal performance for the dance floor (as he did with his popular remix of Adele’s “Set Fire To the Rain”), dropping a bootleg mix of R.E.M.'s "Losing My Religion" vocal with his own track “What’s Up.”
Gold says he strives for versatility, and his energetic style makes his sets some of the most impressive around. "I just want to show people that I'm doing commercial stuff and mashups, but I can also go back to what I used to do,” said Gold, who, like iconic Dutch DJ Tiësto, is over 40, and was around for dance music’s earlier, more underground waves.
The red and white Fanfare theme permeated the night, with color-coordinated confetti blasts, and dancers and stilt-walkers in circus costumes. Trumpet players provided a rather regal opening sequence, and returned later to perform his horn-heavy original track, "Fanfare." Over the course of the evening, nearly 500 inflatable trumpets emblazoned with the Fanfare logo were distributed into the crowd, which many attendees carted home with them. The drum line closed the affair in grand style: a live rendition of Gold’s “Set Fire To the Rain” remix.
While the music played and the dancers pranced, the crowd seldom lost its connection with the DJ in front of them. Roseland was crowded and boiling until 4:00 a.m., when Gold was finally forced from the decks because of the venue’s curfew -- despite cries from the crowd for “one more song.”