With the crazy, seemingly never ending series of shows and huge lineups constantly hitting NYC, it’s hard to get indescribably hyped for upcoming announcements. Big name artists, over the top installations, and massively scaled events are becoming the norm – but leave it to Jukely and Area Event to conjure up something that has the whole city buzzing. This New Year’s Eve, it was go big or go home. And let us tell you, this was more than big, and we didn’t return home until the late hours of New Year’s Day.
When we first heard the legends known as JUSTICE would be performing for 2016’s milestone, it was awe-inducing to say the least. A name like that could effortlessly bring crowds in the thousands. But then, like cake overpoured with pounds of icing, sprinkles and glitter, the team threw on top the Parisian prince of techno, Gesaffelstein in the mix — and to finish it off? An epic afterhours set by melodic royalty ODESZA.
We arrived with our veins tingling, excited to experience a show that would inevitably go down in history. It has been years since Justice performed, the prospect of their return had our rosters on full velocity. Walking into the large Redhook warehouse space with only minutes until the ball dropped, the crowd was in a jam-packed frenzy awaiting to ring in the new year. An all-too-familiar 10 point countdown ended in a flashing “HAPPY 2016” and cannons of confetti, attendees smiled and laughed as we wished a Happy New Year to strangers and friends surrounding. Although the official 2016 cap off was a bit underwhelming, the energy from the crowd was simply undeniable. Yes it was a new year, and yes some of us got in that coveted “NYE kiss”, but none of that mattered. Because the electro-gods known as JUSTICE were about to take center stage.
As Bob Moses closed and the lights went dark, a colossal, reverberating beat shook the pitch black venue. Hands reaching for the sky, screams of astonishment, eyes wide – as Richard Strauss’ Sprach Zaratustra surged through the air, a backlit spotlight unveiled two familiar figures. As chords gained speed, volume amplified, the iconic Justice cross lit up the warehouse. As the opening anthem phased out, none other than Prince’s Party Like Its 1999 oscillated into the walls — small fractions of bright-lit drops dancing from floor to ceiling, bouncing off the warehouse’s menagerie of disco balls. The set was saturated with high-voltage energy, the pair playing with elements of hip hop and funk, disco beats served on a silver platter, and of course, weaving in many of their well-loved classics. I can’t quite say whether we all lost our sh*t harder when the masters played D.A.N.C.E. or GENESIS – but what I can say is that the entire performance was a pure frenzy of deafening intensity and electric funk. Lustrous and satisfying in all the right ways, Justice had returned and we’re so thankful it was to party with us. After their set, Gaspard Auge, in a delightful surprise, hung around the front of the venue’s food carts to greet fans and take pictures. Never ending thank yous, high fives, and hugs ensued.
Next up was Gesaffelstein, who planned to stir up a darker recipe for the masses. Besides the overwhelmingly awkward moment of me saying hello to him, with only a 45-second blank stare in response – Mr. Levy, as always, satisfied us to the tee. Seconds after the epic moment of our Parisian prince sharing the stage with Justice for a quick chat passed, Gesa’s classic OPR was already clamoring through the sound system. Fans pushed forward as the blinding strobe lights flashed into our souls. Tracks like Atmosphere and his edit of Shockwave had us feeling like we were in a dingy, underground club deep in central Germany. We couldn’t help but sing along to the construed version of Rocket Number 9 and head-bang to the lumbering Obsession. The hour and a half set was signature Gesa, and we expected nothing less. With little time for anything but violent calamity, the french conductor left us breathing heavy and wanting more.
After a mellow, cool-down with Chrome Sparks, the afterhours headliner ODESZA jumped on stage to a cheering, tireless crowd. Boldly opening with Benzel and Cashmere Cat’s Just A Thought set the mood for an ultra-high spirited, more hip-hop infused performance. It was classic Odesza, all the melodic, sing-along, euphoria inducing tracks mixed in with some surprising drops of Khia, Rae Sremmurd, Djemba Djemba, and Biggie. With people battling towards 7AM, it was clear the pair knew high-energy was vital – luckily, they brought us back to life almost effortlessly with undoubtedly great music. We joined hands and flowed together for moments like Say My Name and Bloom — and got down and warehouse dirty for an unexpected slew of trap and rap beats.
We left the venue, walking into the bright sun at the ripe hour of 8:30am, ready to embark on a journey to another warehouse party (no sleep for Brooklyn). So, what can we say? If leaving with an ear-to-ear smile, and an extra pep in our step isn’t enough of an indicator, let me elaborate. Jukely and Area’s NYE event was near flawless. Besides slight overcrowding during the beginning of the night (which we quickly found an underground shortcut through), the decor, food, vibe, and most importantly, MUSIC, was pinpointed to perfection. With a lineup of this proportion, could you really expect anything less? We’re so happy we were blessed enough to experience such amazing performances, and we cannot wait to see what’s next! Dance on, my friends.