At the turn of the century (that sounds pretentious, but it’s true), I was deep into dance music. Rave music. Specifically the house and trance varieties in their various forms. EDM was not a term, it was all just “techno” to people who didn’t listen to it. It was just starting to become a thing in mainstream clubs. I started attending ‘raves’ when I was in high school, initially local underground parties in the basement of Club 216 and in the SERP house. Later driving to Richmond and beyond. All over the mid-Atlantic and eventually going way too far in pursuit of a good party.
Quck aside: I remember coming back from a party on new years morning one year and passing thought four separate sobriety check points. At each one I had to get out of the car and do the walk and touch my nose and whatnot. I was completely sober and passed all four, though I suspect I smelled of weed (along with sweat and tobacco smoke, specifically menthol as that seemed to be the only thing people smoked at Raves), given I’d spend the whole night in a warehouse party where more than a few people were smoking all manner of things. The funny part was the other 3 people in my car were stoned out of their fucking mind. And the cops didn’t care at all. They were only looking for drunk drivers.
Anyway, getting good dance music in my home town was not easy. The stores had little sections of CDs labeled “techno” that were filled mostly with cheap unmixed compilations of hit-or-miss tracks. I bought too many of these just to get a specific song. Often they were multi-CD bundles, two or three, or even four discs. And there would be two or three songs I actually wanted on them. But before Napster that was about all I could get. DJ mixes were things we bought or traded with others at raves on cassettes with hand written labels or low quality black and white dot matrix printed pictures.
It was Napster that really opened up access to electronic music; I was in college in 1999 and 2000 when Napster blew up. Free fast internet meant amassing an obscenely large collection of music. Browsing forums to find good DJs and downloading mixes — I had a library of more than 100 Radio 1 Essential Mixes at one point. I remember songs that I have never been able to find again – talking bout you Kai Tracide song with the crazy sax solo. Who knows, maybe it was mislabeled, or maybe it was a self release unique to Napster, but I could never find a legit copy of that one or many others.
I don’t know how I first stumbled upon Tiësto but I became obsessed. I spent hours finding good rips —high bit rate— of all his mix CDs that were released in Europe in the late 90’s: the Lost Treasure series (four releases), the Forbidden Paradise series (seven releases) and the first few Magik releases (eventually there were seven of these but the later ones were after I left college). Later when I had a job I ordered used copies of all of these, I still have them. But in 1999 Tiësto released two mix albums that blew my mind. In Search of Sunrise [discogs.com] and Live at Innercity [discogs.com]. Either of which could be on my favorites list but if I had to choose one it would be Innercity.
I love the feeling of this mix from beginning to end. You can hear just the right amount of the crowd in the mix especially in the beginning; cheering and whistling. The way the energy of the tracks flows across the whole disc is amazing, the energy builds, dissipates and builds again across it’s 70 plus minutes. Perfect. Put on a good pair of headphones and listen. The opening track, The Universal Nation by Push deserves a lot of credit, but all the tracks are great and the mix has a wonderful gestalt. I also appreciate the fact that there is only 1 track that lists Tiësto as the artist, no other self-promotion, only one Tiësto track and no remixes. Too often mix albums, even live performances, end up being a self promotion, the DJ showing off their own tracks and remixes on after another.
My clubbing and raving days are far, far behind me but I do find myself listening to Innercity every once in a while. I Search of Sunrise too. A lot of nostalgia I guess. They don’t make me what to get up and dance, but the are relaxing. Great driving music, great music when I need to grind through some work, great when I just want to sit in the dark and relax.
Listen on Apple Music:
Or on Spotify: