The opening set for this year’s Tranceaddict stage at Tomorrowland in Belgium was assigned to Brooklyn, New York based producer and dj Mike Squillo. Squillo made his international debut on this stage and was presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to display his talents to a global audience. Scheduled to share the stage with him were several big names in trance.
Tomorrowland draws thousands of people every year to Boom, Belgium, a town nestled in the province of Antwerp. Last year, all 180,000 tickets sold out. This year, every inch of Tomorrowland was filled with fans anticipating weekends filled with unforgettable sets and memories soundly etched into their brains from the euphoria of living in a temporary fantasy world. The TranceAddict stage was filled with heavy hitters like Indecent Noise, Standerwick, and Simon Patterson. Lange, Sean Tyas and Menno De Jong, and Airwave. The Three Agile As (Airscape, Alex M.O.R.P.H., and Andy Moor) were to grace the stage. The infamous DJ and producer duo Gabriel and Dresden were also slated to stand behind the decks. What was a man to do?
This. He did this.
Squillo played tracks from Animal & Me, Andrew G. Ellen, Ruslan Vashkevich, Philthy Chit, an ID from Mike himself, and many more. For the full tracklist, go to http://bit.ly/2uKh54t. Slower and steady was his motto as he ascended towards the final notes of his set. Mike Squillo’s set at Tomorrowland is an example of how you showcase instead of show out. Another set of his that begs mention is his opening set before Paul Van Dyk last year on November 12, 2016, at the Brooklyn Warehouse.
Beginner DJs covet the slot prior to the headliner(s) because that is when the crowd is buzzing the most in anticipation of who has been booked and there is usually an audience. How one transitions into the set of the headliner(s) tells you a lot about that particular DJ and his or her skill level. However, playing at the very start of the night, away from the main room or the main stage, is in one writer’s opinion, a better look into the character and durability of a DJ. It’s also a great test environment for the newcomer. The crowd is sometimes sparse and that affects a lot of DJs. There may or may not be production, lights, and all the visual jazz that comes with being the headliner. If you are a local DJ in your hometown, you will more than likely start out in such a slot, playing to a room that is far from packed, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. Good DJs know how to do a proper opening set and create their own crowd.
Coming from a traditional club environment, one may be forgiven if they arrive in the edm nightclub world and think that the proper thing to do is to ramp up the volume and tempo right from the start. Night owls in traditional nightclubs want to “ante up” and “get the party started” as early as possible so that they can consume alcoholic beverages to their satisfaction before the cut off hour. This is sometimes the case for certain genres of electronic dance music, but in the trance and progressive world, banging it out is frowned upon when you have the earliest slot.
I’ve always appreciated the opportunity to listen to an OTC set from Markus Schulz and Armin van Buuren’s warm up sets because they allow both those artists to step away from the glitz of the main stage/run of the mill club set and do something fantastic in the early hours of their sets. Mike Squillo is definitely one to keep an eye on. The delicious build and creation of atmosphere are just some of the hallmarks of Mike Squillo’s opening sets. I leave you with one last set from when Mike opened for Menno De Jong.
To keep up to date on Mike Squillo, follow him on Facebook, and Twitter. Listen to his productions and sets on Soundcloud. Purchase his music on Beatport.