Currently on the first leg of his North American “Magic 8 Ball Tour,” champion turntablist A-Trak hit U Street Music Hall on Tuesday night for a sold-out show of hip-hop and house music, topped with a human touch.
Born Alain Macklovitch, the 29-year-old Montreal native and younger brother to Chromeo frontman David Macklovitch isn’t new to the DJ circuit. He came on the scene in 1997 when he became the youngest person to win the Disco Mix Club’s World DJ Championship at age 15, and then rode shotgun with Kanye West as his official tour DJ in 2004. In the years since, Macklovitch has become known for deftly bridging the gap between hip-hop and electronic music.
Now, the dance-rap arbiter is hoping to move DJs from clubs to live music venues, a nod to their fanatical followings. Refusing to surrender to a life in background music, Macklovitch assembled a cast of characters for his 2011 tour to show the world that these days, DJs are the party.
After scooting his decks closer to the crowd, Macklovitch launched into a string of hip-hop tracks impressively spun over aggressive house beats. Sweat-drenched concert-goers thrust themselves toward the stage to watch his magic fingers rapidly tickle the turntables. It’s no wonder a slew of hip hop wunderkinds have flocked to his star-studded record label, Fool’s Gold, which boasts Lupe Fiasco, Laidback Luke, Kid Cudi and recently, Lil B. Once a prodigy DJ, Macklovitch remains in a league of his own.
The evening’s highlights included a crushing rendition of Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock,” a tricked-out version of Bassnectar’s “Bass Head,” and Duck Sauce’s “Barbra Streisand,” the inescapable disco house track that gets everyone whistling (and that, coincidentally, was covered on Tuesday’s “Glee”). Macklovitch formed Duck Sauce with fellow DJ Armand Van Helden in 2009.
There was one mystery number that had everyone buzzing. Since first dropping it during Miami’s Ultra Music Festival last month, bloggers and online fan forums have obsessively named it “The Big Bad Wolf” for its spooky howl, submitting Macklovitch to a deluge of desperate tweets begging for its release date.
With a hint of coquettishness, Macklovitch remains mum. Fifteen years later and scratch DJ’s Boy Wonder hasn’t missed a beat.