Tiësto has been one of the planet's highest-profile DJs for well over a decade now—long before electronic music became mainstream in the U.S. But since that EDM explosion, the Dutch DJ hasn't dropped a radio-friendly studio album to capitalize on the success of a genre he helped shape.
Until last night.
Tiësto celebrated the release of his fifth studio album A Town Called Paradise—the title is a reference to his popular mix series Forbidden Paradise from the '90s—with a bevy of guests at NYC's Terminal 5. Turning the sizable venue into a sweaty dance club isn't the easiest task, but someone who's been at the boards for two decades knows what he's doing, and Tiësto kept fists pumping and hips swaying for a full three hours.
Eschewing the indie-leanings of his past two releases, Tiësto is back to the thumping beats and alluring melodies that made him an A-lister at the turn of the millennium. He also pulled out a few technological tricks: Every person in the venue was given a wristband that lit up in synchronization during different songs, creating a dazzling, communal light show.
Icona Pop popped in to perform their sunny, strummy Tiësto collabo "Let's Go" and newcomer Quilla made a strong impression during her live performance of "Close to Me"—unlike many EDM guest vocalists, she allowed a little vulnerability to creep into her singing, and the song was an evening highlight for it.
Bono-voiced rock singer Cruickshank stopped by to sing "Footprints," a high school graduation speech backed by warbly synths and sizable bass drops, and the reliably awesome Ladyhawke delivered "Last Train" in person—both songs actually sounded better in concert than on the record. Former Zedd collaborator Matthew Koma was there to sing the insanely catchy, effervescent "Wasted," which is crafted to become a massive hit and will probably succeed.
When the show wrapped, two things were very apparent. First, Tiësto has turned in his most accessible material in years with A Town Called Paradise. But more importantly, even in an era where DJs can be found around every corner, a live Tiësto concert still manages to capture the spirit of dancefloor joy in a way that many of his followers are still trying to perfect.
PS: Danny Avila's opening set deserves special praise for turning a slightly indifferent venue into a pounding dance party. With the flawless looks of a boy band singer and some legit tracks, it's clear this Spanish house DJ has a bright future—although we might advise him to drop the dystopian exhortation to "THINK LESS / JUMP MORE" from his stage show.