Written by Ariana Assaf
The following account of my DJ Snake experience is 1) a few days later than I would have liked, because the world of music just doesn’t stop turning (thank god) and 2) going to overuse the Christmas analogy because that’s the holiday I celebrate during what one ridiculous carol calls “the most wonderful time of the year.” That songwriter was wrong though. The most wonderful time of the year is when you’re in a car with your friends on the way to a show you’ve been anticipating so much you refuse to hear a note of that artists’ music too soon before or too soon after—it has to be reserved for those few special moments in which their creator is right in front of you. And it’s even better than any 19th century caroller could have imagined, because in the life of Ariana, the most wonderful time of the year tends to happen more than once a year.
If DJ Snake hasn’t been on your radar much lately, you might remember him for “Turn Down For What” with Lil’ John. Don’t worry, he’s gotten infinitely better since 2013. If he’s been on your radar a little bit lately, you’ll have heard the glory that is “Middle.” But unless you’re catching him on his Pardon My French tour with Mercer, Malaa, and Tchami, you won’t be hearing it in its full, sweetly explosive capacity (so I highly suggest you check out that tour schedule of his).
Photo by @anthonyghnassia
I’ll be honest, before his show at Detroit’s Masonic Temple last Friday, I fell in to that “little bit” category. And truth be continuously told, considering he’s busy touring and blowing the minds of live audiences elsewhere until August, I will most likely now reside in the “yeah DJ Snake is dope af but what else does he have for me?” category. It’s cool, I’m sure he’ll drop a banger and a half once he’s had time to settle down and get back into the studio. But between prepping for his show, going to his show, and writing about his show, I’m reasonably well versed with his discography and thus happy to explore other realms of that ever-turning world of music until he adds to it again. I’m also happy to live off my memories of flying around the back of the venue during his show, weaving in and out of the classy velvet seats and finding a new group of friends to dance with every five minutes (and occasionally taking advantage of those classy velvet seats to catch my breath…shows have become my once-a-week-or-so workout and in the words of Dillon Francis, IDGAFOS).
Anyway, some of you might be familiar with the way your heart used to soar at the sight of presents on Christmas morning. I always thought it had something to do with the silence, how all that pretty stuff appeared so quietly even though it was so visually loud. DJ Snake was both visually and audibly loud (not too loud of course), and it made my heart soar more freely than any Christmas present ever could. It even made my body soar momentarily, thanks to a drop in the music that coincided with my discovery of extra air time made possible by the slight elevation difference between the back of the Masonic and the aisles that slanted down towards the stage.
Photo by @anthonyghnassia
The diversity in his set was excellent and well thought out. He started with some intensely pounding dubstep that offered the perfect contrast to Tchami’s preceding deep house set. Slowly but surely, he brought things down into a delightfully nasty trap beat, moving artfully between the two to test the audience’s sense of rhythm (and probably so as not to tire us out too quickly). All that went on for a healthy amount of time, and then something truly extraordinary happened: he played “Wonderwall.” Granted it was only a short sample, but he let it breathe without trying to match it to the more hard core segments of his set—clearly he understands the concept of appropriate time and a place. The tempo was brought back up with a string-heavy version of “Lean On” that fed in to Ariana Gomez’s “Can You Feel It,” dipping into some upbeat house meets dubstep vibes before indulging himself in “Turn Down For What” …and indulging me with some dancing direction in the form of “Get Low.” I mean, what’s more unifying than squishing yourself into the floor and jumping back up with the rest of the crowd?
Unlike Santa Claus, DJ Snake won’t disappoint you when you get too old and find out he was never real. He gave his Detroit crowd a very special gift in the form of a night to remember, and if anybody ever tells you that isn’t magic, you can tell them that Santa was only ever for believers anyway.