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Review: Calvin Harris at Lavo NYC 7/28/11

Calvin Harris plays Lavo NYC on July 28, 2011

Let’s be honest – who in the New York electronic music and club scene wasn’t at Lavo last Thursday night to see Calvin Harris? We purposely arrived early at around 11:30pm, and the place was already a zoo. I was surprised to see when I walked in that big, sparkly letters spelling out “CALVIN HARRIS” weren’t hanging from the ceiling facing the DJ booth – what Lavo typically honors it’s guest DJs with. Rumors were that Calvin didn’t like the letters from his past two trips to Lavo, so they tried some other ways to welcome the Scot instead. For the first time I’ve ever seen, the bar staff for the evening was all-female, and they were suited up in white tanks printed with the UK flag across the chest. Large cardboard cutouts of Calvin’s face off of the cover of “I Created Disco” – yup, that iconic image of him wearing those studded sunglasses – hung from the ceiling by strings, rotating slowly in circles. The same image of Calvin’s silhouette was also printed on to orange, circular foam hands that were distributed out to the crowd at some point during the night. Some interesting alternatives to his name in glitter, and I guess we’ll discover next time Calvin’s playing at Lavo if he liked these special touches better.

Lavo’s always-amazing resident DJ, Drek Martinez, opened with his typical mix of Avicii and Max Vangeli anthems, and, of course, current favorite Drek songs including Duck Sauce’s “Big Bad Wolf” and LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.” There was a lot of build-up as the night got later and later, and the place was starting to feel like a fire hazard. Needless to say, when Calvin stepped into the booth at about 1:30am the crowd was about to explode.

To my surprise, Calvin opened with Deniz Koyu’s “Tung!” An interesting choice for an opener, in my opinion. There is no doubt “Tung!” is an amazing track, but it lacks the typical in-your-face factor that a lot of DJs usually go for to announce their takeover of the booth. It worked for the crowd, though, and I loved it. It was almost genius; his opening continued the build-up and anticipation that had been coming to a boil throughout Drek’s set, and Calvin let everything finally explode when he followed with “Encoded” by Hardwell.

Calvin played all his hits that you’d guess he’d play – “You Used to Hold Me,” “Awooga,” “Flashback” (David Guetta remix), “Bounce” (R3hab remix) – and other current staples such as SHM’s “Miami 2 Ibiza,” “Pressure” (Alesso remix), Steve Angello’s “Knas” vs. “I’m Coming Home” (think Calvin’s May BBC Essential Mix), Bassjackers’s “Mush Mush,” “Duel” by Third Party, more SHM with “Save the World” (Style of Eye & Carli remix)… the list goes on. His set was very summer, very in the moment, filled with all the big anthems that have been dominating house in 2011.

The temperature – literally – continued to rise throughout Calvin’s set, and the crowd was a raucous, sweaty mess. Seriously, in the many, many times I’ve been at Lavo I’ve never once felt the club temperature rise above 70 degrees, and it felt like it was 500 on the dance floor that night. When Calvin played some unexpected dubstep with Skrillex’s remix of Benassi’s “Cinema,” things got a little out of hand. I remember looking at the ceiling at that point and realizing that all of the Calvin Harris cardboard heads had been ripped from the ceiling. Some people must’ve gotten to go home with some awesome souvenirs.

Calvin Harris performing at Lavo NYC on July 28, 2011

Fittingly, Calvin closed his set, which lasted about 2 hours, with his new single, “Feel So Close,” and then he quietly slipped out of the booth to let Drek finish out the evening. Drek kept the energy going for a while, and once it was finally time to leave we parted with some free fried Oreos being handed out by the Lavo staff.

Complaints? Calvin, please, look a little happier next time! I do appreciate the seriousness of DJs – nobody can deny that seeing a DJ take their work and job seriously is a bad thing. It’s true, when Afrojack was drunker than I was at Lavo owner Jason Strauss’ birthday party a few months ago I didn’t really know what to think. But it would’ve been cool if Calvin would’ve cracked a couple more smiles and put his “hands in the air for a century” a few more times. Think Tiesto for that perfect balance.

All in all, a great show. As if we needed it, it was yet another indication that Calvin Harris continues to occupy a top spot among electro’s best DJs and that Lavo is the club bringing in the biggest talent and throwing the best parties in NYC right now.

-Emily Japlon

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