Ryan Raddon has been causing quite a ruckus over the past couple of weeks. Tickets for his highly anticipated “It’s You, It’s Me Redux” tour have been selling out faster than Backstreet Boys tickets in 1994. The tour, created to commemorate the 10 year anniversary of his “It’s You, It’s Me” album, kicked off in Dallas on Tuesday evening and will be traveling to carefully chosen venues in 9 select U.S. cities. Sounds kind of amazing, right? Before you tell all your friends, I should warn you that the odds of obtaining tickets to this tour are narrower than your odds of getting to Tomorrowland. The dates, venues and ticketing links become available only 5 days before each stop and require 24/7 monitoring of Kaskade’s Twitter and Facebook pages. And even if you’re on top of your game and refresh the ticketing link the moment tickets in your city become available, your odds are about 1 in 1,000 that you’ll get through.
Stop #2 on the tour? Kaskade’s hometown and one of the birthplaces of house music: Chicago. And what better Windy City venue for this unique tour than the location of one of Kaskade’s first residencies? Smart Bar is an intimate underground club known for attracting a wide range of talent ranging from cutting-edge hip-hop artists to up-and-coming house DJs. It also boasts one of the top 10 sound-systems in the country in a ranking by Beatport, making it an ideal location for the Redux experience.
Wednesday morning’s announcement (via tweet) that a limited number of tickets would be available at the door that night sent the north side of Chicago into a frenzy with a crowd of desperate and devout fans anxiously clustered around the club’s entrance at 6pm. Doors didn’t open until 9pm. Fortunately, by some stroke of luck my saucy friend Stephane works with the local DJ who opened Wednesday’s Chicago show, so I was one of the blessed few who passed through the doors of Smart Bar that evening ticket-in-hand.
If you only listen to EDM because it’s trendy and you enjoy wearing neon, this tour is not for you. Rather, Kaskade has thoughtfully orchestrated and designed an experience for the people who have followed and appreciated him since the release of “It’s You, It’s Me” in 2003. These are the fans who knew him before he was playing the main stage at festivals all over the world. Who still get goosebumps every time they listen to “Steppin’ Out.” Who have actually contemplated starting a Kaskade religion. (You cannot tell me I’m the only one who has thought about this.)
When Kaskade took the stage, his smile and demeanor made it instantly evident that he was home. Not only because he was home in the literal sense but because he lives and breathes for these shows. For the opportunity to get in touch with his roots, play the music he holds dearest to his heart and share that passion with fans who get it. As the slow and steady melody of “Its You, It’s Me” floated into the air, the crowd grew silent in appreciation, acknowledging they were about to partake in EDM history. He then dove into some crowd favorites “Everything” and “Llove (ICE Mix)” before transitioning into a variety of heartfelt deep house tracks.
There were no bass drops on Wednesday evening, but that didn’t stop the energy from mounting toward nirvana throughout his 2.5 hour set. Some notable moments of pure ecstasy included “Steppin’ Out,” “Here I Am” and the spellbinding “4 AM.” The atmosphere at Smart Bar was unlike anything I’d ever experienced and can only be described as utopian.
My two cents? Short of your own life (or the lives of others), there isn’t one thing that isn’t worth sacrificing to get to one of these shows. May the rave gods be on your side!