On the beautiful evening of Independence Day in Chicago, flashlights and explosions peppered across the sky while Gabriel and Dresden arrived at the Mid with the intention of creating their own fireworks. Upon entering, the duo brought with them a rich history of accolades, including numerous DJ and production awards, legendary live sets, and dance chart toppers such as “As the Rush Comes” and “Tracking Treasure Down”. Despite all their accomplishments and the global recognition among electronic music fans, the past few years have proven artistically challenging for the tandem. While I sat down with them before their set, Josh Gabriel candidly told me, “We sort of found ourselves not knowing what direction to go and kind of got lost in the sea of ‘EDMness’.” It was in these moments of uncertainty that Gabriel and Dresden decided to become grounded in their roots again and embark on a ‘Classics Only’ tour, one that would reconnect themselves with their fans and bring back the energy and vibe of yesteryear’s dance music scene. With a seven hour time slot ahead of them, Josh Gabriel and Dave Dresden approached the DJ booth and began to take the crowd on an epic emotional dance journey.
As soon as Gabriel and Dresden lit up their first track, it became apparent that the majority of the early arrivals to the club were there specifically for the ‘Classics Only’ set. From the outset, cheers and whistles emanated from the crowd at the same level one might hear during peak-time hours. Gabriel and Dresden warmed up the audience with the soft melodies and soothing vocals of Kirsty Hawkshaw’s “Fine Day (James Holden remix)”. Cited as one of Gabriel and Dresden’s major artistic inspirations, James Holden’s impact was felt early in their set as they also played his remix of Nathan Fake’s “The Sky was Pink”. After whetting the audience’s appetite with solid warm-up tracks, Gabriel and Dresden began dropping a few of their original singles, “Arcadia” and “Serendipity”. The heat of their set rose increasingly and the dancefloor felt itself come to a slow boil as they played Deadmau5’s “Not Exactly”.
Midway through their set, excitement and lust for performing seemed to permeate from the two; Dave Dresden danced at every opportunity and Josh Gabriel’s face smiled to capacity. Harnessing this feeling of rejuvenation, the two continued to crank up the energy of the club with audio artillery from trance powerhouses such as Dash Berlin [Till the Sky Falls down], Cosmic Gate [Should’ve Known (Wippenberg remix)], and Paul Oakenfold [Southern Sun – G&D remix]. While most Saturday nights at the Mid have only a few people left dancing at 4am, Gabriel and Dresden still had the dancefloor absolutely rocking. After fans waited patiently all night, the duo finally rewarded the late stayers with arguably two of their biggest hits, “As the Rush Comes” and “Tracking Treasure Down”.
The night came to a close, and Gabriel and Dresden had painted a soundscape masterpiece on a club canvas compromising of riveting rock remixes, emotional rollercoasters, and dancefloor destroyers. Until this night, I had not witnessed an open to close set with such raw emotional storytelling since the legendary days of Sasha and Digweed. The energy and vibe between artist and fan was magnetic all night. Throughout their set, Gabriel and Dresden interacted playfully with the crowd; they even took a few phones handed to them and snapped some group photos, all while still maintaining performance integrity and discarding overzealous stage antics. Before the show, Dave Dresden said to me, “This [‘Classics Only’ tour] actually really feels fun and invigorating and I honestly feel happier just because we are doing this right now, and it’s enjoyable.” After their set, I couldn’t have agreed more.
To read my full interview with Gabriel and Dresden before their performance at the Mid, click here. Also, be on the lookout for future releases as Gabriel and Dresden hit the studio. In the meantime, be sure to catch one of the remaining shows on their ‘Classics Only’ tour.