As a Floridian, there is always something special when traveling to the northern-most states during winter – the colder, crisp air, the additional layers of clothing required when venturing outdoors, the prospect of snow, etc. All wintry glee aside, it was not the fleeting thrill of the season which proved delightful, but rather the opportunity to see one of the most dynamic and unique Trance DJs in the electronic music scene. Hailing from Northern Ireland, Greg Downey played a monumental and captivating four-hour set at Bogart House in Brooklyn, NY that left a memorable mark in the memory of those present, and we were there to experience it. Specializing in the harder aspects of Trance music, Greg’s approach to the genre is best described as a symbiotic synthesization of Tech Trance, Psy Trance and Acid Trance, with overtures of Uplifting Trance. These eclectic elements were showcased when Greg took the stage, but not before opening his set with some scintillating Techno,Progressive, and Hard House.
In particular, Techno is one of the building blocks of Trance music, and it is always a pleasure to hear Trance DJs incorporate it into their sets. This was perhaps the best way to commence an epic four-hour set and set the tone for an impending and unrelenting Trance onslaught. Gradually increasing the BPM, Greg progressed to some Hard House. As seamless as his transitions were, this part of his set was a nice throwback to the infancy of dance music and rave culture in terms of the underground parties held cramped and claustrophobic-like warehouses and basements. This added a wonderful fun-factoras well, and Greg knew his selections were resonating with the crowd as each time he looked up in-between mixing, he was greeted with cheers, smiles, outstretched arms, and cries of his name. Feeding off of the infectious energy, Greg Downey proceeded to crank things up several notches.
He went into pure and unabashed Trance-mode and sent all present into a frenzy. Patrons danced, shuffled, and swayed to the music as their euphoria was commensurate to the driving tempos and bass-laden beats. This was not some ordinary DJ they were seeing perform; this was Greg Downey, and he was showcasing the finest cutting-edge Trance music, particularly from his own label, Skullduggery. Original mixes, remixes, and releases by his contemporaries were staples of his set and flowed harmoniously, while reverberating sweetly to one’s ear. Known as the Iceman for his seemingly stoic appearance and unemotional demeanor, Greg Downey brought pure fire through music to a cold city and a beautifully minimalist venue. So moved by everyone’s reactions and outpouring of appreciation, he actually managed to smile a few times during his set. This even extended after his set when he was socializing with patrons and obliging to obligatory selfie requests.
Greg Downey has played numerous shows in a plethora of cities across the country, but this was the first time seeing him domestically. Our first show of his was Luminosity Beach Festival 2018, in Bloemendaal aan Zee, The Netherlands, and the second was at the 2019 edition. Both sets were equally outstanding, but what made the New York show special was that it was a four-hour set. Typically, DJs playing music festivals are confined to a small segment of time in which to play, so they are not afforded the opportunity to take their fans on a musical journey. On hearing the news that his New York gig was going to be an extended set, it was only inevitable that we would be there to experience the full journey on which Greg Downey was taking everyone. The opening portion of it saw him blur the lines between Techno, Progressive, and Hard House with his silky and seamless track selections and mixing, proving to be the ultimate segue into the Skullduggery realm of hard-hitting Trance.