You've got to love the way Turkish clubbers choose their concerts. It's not by whom they like or the musical qualities of the DJ playing. Instead, the key questions are these: Is he or she foreign? Is the DJ popular? Are the tickets expensive? Thank God for us, then, that Erol Alkan has a Turkish name, not too many people here have ever heard of him and the tickets were, for Istanbul standards, pretty cheap.
Otto Santral was the home to this London-based DJ recently and from the moment we arrived at the club we knew this was the best place for Erol Alkan to play. The building, which is located in a former factory, has been restyled into a flashy club, but with a lot of gritty industrial elements that are echoed in Alkan's sound. It also doesn't hurt that the staff working there is pretty laidback and trendy and not as pushy and annoying as the you-have-to-have-a-drink-in-your-hand clubs around here.
Otto Santral is known for it's high-end customers and—because it's not in the city centre—there are hardly any visitors who go there on a whim. Whereas Armand van Helden two weeks before was sold out, only half of the club was filled this time. Even so, the people there were so enthusiastic that it didn't matter much. Several crowd members were rocking the "E.R.O.L. Keeps Kids Dancing!" shirts and we even saw one person with one that said "L.O.V.E. Is The Answer," a limited edition t-shirt only available through Erol Alkan's official website. True fans were in the house!
It's safe to say that people were expecting a lot from this guy. He is, together with DJ Onur Özer and İsmail from Digitalism, one of the few high-profile DJ's with Turkish roots in the world. In a country where the electronic music scene is growing fast, a lot of the younger DJs out here look up to Alkan and he didn't disappoint the people present. The moment he went on stage, his energy spread through the place and within the first five minutes everybody was already dancing their shirts off their backs.
The set was a mix of hard Boys Noize-esque tunes and more clean-cut Joost van Bellen electro. Alkan's particular brilliance, though, lay in his pacing: Just as we started to get tired, he changed his pace and took it a bit easier. The fifteen minutes or so we had to catch our breath was just enough for another forty-five minutes of banging tracks with a couple of old school house tracks mixed in there as well. Seeing that there were a lot of hardcore music fans, almost everybody knew the lyrics to these older records and, like the best rock concerts, the whole crowd was singing along.
At around 3:30, Alkan stopped his incredible set and an ear-deafening chant arose from the audience: "We Want More! We Want More!" Alkan was done though and you could see he was as tired as the sweaty crowd. (Even the Vodka orange juice he had been steadily sipping on stage couldn't give him the power to go on longer.) His set stopped, though, at the best moment: When we were still longing for more, but had already been well satisfied.