New York City hit the Trance lottery in 2014 when the master of The Rabbit Hole, Mr. Unicorn Slayer himself, Markus Schulz decided not only to choose the Big Apple as one of the few cities to host an official release party for his forthcoming album Scream 2 but to also bestow upon it one of his legendary open to close solo marathon sets. Although the falsely rumored threat of 33 inches of snow never came to fruition, a Schulz blizzard descended upon New York City at approximately 10:00 p.m. on February 8th and unbeknownst to most of the crowd in attendance would blanket Pacha for the next 10 1/2 hours.
A line of people had already formed outside Pacha prior to 10:00 p.m., which is pretty early by club standards. Pacha eventually allowed the steady flow of eager fans inside to witness the one in a million set that had unfortunately already started. Markus Schulz was front and center in the DJ booth that was about to become his laboratory for the next 10-plus hours while he experimented on himself and the crowd in a test of physical and mental endurance. The crowd, a mixture of local and out-of-state attendees mostly dressed in black or dark colors with nary a neon tank top in sight, had apparently gotten the memo about the dress code. We were all there for exactly the same reason and knew what we signed up for – the type of rare and abnormally lengthy marathon set that edm legends are made of.
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”left” cite=”” quotestyle=”style01″] Markus was a magician turning generic, rusty clunkers by producers like Tritonal and Hardwell into dance floor gold. A large portion of the set consisted of Markus transforming what we’ve already heard before into something new and extraordinary, like a David Blaine of the decks. [/sws_blockquote_endquote]
With the support of numerous friends in attendance including Coldharbour label mate Mike Hovsepian, old school trance icon M.I.K.E. Push, and Black Hole rising star Mike Saint-Jules, Markus appeared to be right at home in his fortress of Mikes doing what he does best – looking calm and collected while everybody in the audience is losing their shit. Markus, the “nice guy who is all business when he’s behind the decks” according to his DJ peers, appropriately kicked off the first hour in a relaxed but energetic manner to slowly sail the already full house into the madness on the horizon. The Pacha machine had noticeably overpacked the club beyond any reasonable capacity for humans to be expected to endure for 30 minutes, let alone 10 1/2 hours, but for Markus we were willing to accept the challenge.
[sws_blockquote_endquote align=”left” cite=”” quotestyle=”style01″] The beast was unleashed during a flurry of blinding lasers while Markus constructed his signature pounding, unrelenting set on top of the decomposing carcasses of glitter coated unicorns.[/sws_blockquote_endquote]
By 10:30 p.m. Markus had already picked up the pace that was slowly building and shortly after midnight he started to work his way towards the signature dark, pulsating sound that he’s revered for in Trance circles. Along the evening’s journey he was also gracious enough to expertly work in the usual tracks that his most rabid fans expect to hear at every appearance without fail. “Nothing Without Me” in particular elicited a mass sing-along.
During various parts of the set I witnessed something miraculous. Markus was a magician turning generic, rusty clunkers by producers like Tritonal and Hardwell into dance floor gold. A large portion of the set consisted of Markus transforming what we’ve already heard before into something new and extraordinary, like a David Blaine of the decks.
A friend once explained to me how the actual set is not The Rabbit Hole, rather it’s a portion of the set “where shit gets weird.” I honestly can’t even recall when I fell down that hole. It must have been sometime after 4:00 a.m., where overexcitement coupled with exhaustion clouded my perception of time and affected my mental clarity. I slipped into a foggy state of blissful confusion where I couldn’t easily determine time, space, or genre.
How many hours have I been here?
How many hours are left?
Is it daytime?
Is he really playing progressive house right now or am I just about to pass out?
The beast was unleashed during a flurry of blinding lasers while Markus constructed his signature pounding, unrelenting set on top of the decomposing carcasses of glitter coated unicorns. He was rapidly firing off so many tracks that I didn’t know where Trance ended and where Techno began. I had already fallen down The Rabbit Hole and was frantically running amok underground as 7:00 a.m. approached and he dropped his amazing but underappreciated Big Room Reconstruction of New Order’s Blue Monday.
Broken, defeated, and disappointed in myself, I had one foot through death’s door shortly after that and was physically and mentally unable to see the journey through. I finally tapped out during what I later found out was only an hour before the set ended.
After Markus’ unrelenting beats had their way with me, I stumbled out into cruel, blinding sunlight with smeared makeup and sticky hair to do the walk of shame alone to the train station where I would recall the journey that I had just embarked on with my friends and lament how something that spectacular may never happen in New York City again.
I later heard from those brave enough to weather his storm that Markus’ set ended around 8:35 a.m. Mr. Approachable exchanged pleasantries with some fans after the show and posed for photographs, but that’s par for the course. Any one of us who has run into him after a show before (or in a parking lot headed for his car, or at the hotel you’re both coincidentally staying at after his Dunkin’ Donuts run with KhoMha) can attest to that.
If I could go back in time with the knowledge that the set was almost over, I still would have left. I was just too drained and exhausted to stay. Markus beat me. He won. That man can’t possibly be human.
Markus Schulz’s eagerly awaited album Scream 2 is set for release on February 21. Between now and then, I plan to catch up on some much needed sleep, and perhaps dream that someday he might actually consider releasing his masterpiece of a New Order remix.