Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
with Waka Flocka Flame, Borgore, Felix Cartal, and Deorro
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Steve Aoki brought an insanely intense crowd of young dancing maniacs to a number of peaks with his unique brand of gigantic sounds and chaotic showboating. Saturday at Epic, the variety show included dubstep from Borgore, electro-house from Felix Cartal, and rap from Waka Flocka. It resembled a festival in both range and excitement levels.
See Also: Slideshow: Steve Aoki at Epic 11/9/13
Deorro started the night off with standard peak-and-valley EDM, bringing the audience up with triumphant drops only to interrupt energy with yet another build. The actual music spun certainly provided the eager fans what they were looking for, but the insistent tension-building/vocal-sample/drop formula wore thin as it went on. But, keep in mind, City Pages was among the only ones at the event taking dutiful notes instead of mood-enhancing substances, so any criticisms aren't really in line with the audience. And much of the X'd hands of the main crowd looked like they were already having the time of their lives, even as early as 8 p.m.
As Waka Flocka Flame's DJ began to setup, he asked people to hand him their weed so that he could smoke onstage. It was nice to see some legitimate Atlanta trap versus the EDM rebranding. Waka himself basically defined the sound as we've known it since 2009 by rapping over Lex Luger beats. If the addition of a rap act seemed left-field on this tour, Waka's focus on-stage energy instead of actually rapping was reminiscent of Aoki's own chaotic push-button sets. There was a lot of lip-syncing but it's hard to say that a set that riled so many people up is a bad rap set.
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen
He was immensely entertaining, and spent most of his time running around rapping at the crowd. The beats featured live drums and incessant gun sounds. At one point, he sprayed the crowd with some sort of mist with diabolical glee. Leaving after performing the massive "Hard in the Paint," Waka's set met with thunderous applause and screaming, which continued into the DJ dropping "Hard in the Paint", again. Waka would return to perform during the other DJs' sets, and spent most of the rest of the night upstairs smoking blunts with fans in the VIP area.
Quickly after Steve Aoki arose from behind his glowing stage playing "No Beef," wearing a vest illuminated by colored lights, the music suddenly stopped. Security flooded the front stage as staff attempted to repair a barricade that had been broken thanks to a barrage of unruly fans.
"Epic Nightclub, you need to invest in a better barricade!" said Aoki amidst the atypical backdrop of silence. "You guys gotta be careful. Let them fix the barricades so I can play music again!" Once the issue had been resolved, his Afrojack collaboration kicked in again and the crowd resumed insanity. The sold-out show was packed with hyped fans, and a sheen of youthful exuberance hung above the night. Aoki continued with hits ranging from his song "Turbulence" with Lil' Jon and his song "A Light That Never Scenes" with Linkin Park, and his trademark stage madness began in full force.
Photos by Anna Gulbrandsen
The first sheet cake was dumped on the front row, but subsequent smaller cakes made their way as far as the back row, the VIP sections, and directly in the faces of girls on shoulders. Aoki has excellent aim, and he ceremoniously spent the building sections of songs to locate his next consenting cake target before pummeling them when the drop hits. Champagne served another popular rider item that ended up on fan's clothes, and the VIP section took it upon themselves to join in and pour water bottles onto the swarm below. Confetti literally caked to the ground after it trickled on the audience, and Waka's mist guns made a few comebacks. Once the inflatable rafts wound their way around the club, carrying screaming girls and getting derailed by stowaways climbing aboard, the place had almost ruptured with audience upheaval.
A pretty difficult act to follow, Aoki played a solid and full set in the middle of the night so as to be able to make a gig in Las Vegas later in the night. Borgore's rap-influenced brostep kept people peaking though, and knew a number of songs that would trigger the entire crowd's participation. Flanked by dancers who showed off some impressive pole skills, I saw a parallel again to Waka's set. His drummer was certainly putting in more work than he was, and the same could be said for these Borgore ladies.
They were joined by fans later after Borgore called for a "twerking competition," and later a topless woman seeking attention. The rappier tail-end of his set, featuring Rich Homie Quan, Migos, and another guest appearance from Waka Flocka, provided a better backdrop for amateur stripper skills. Borgore kept the place moving and the show solidified itself as a festival-strength club show with multiple headliners.
The place remained largely full as Felix Cartal closed out the night with a nice comedown of electro-house that kept the energy alive while winding down appropriately. His was the best use of visual backdrops, projecting experimental animated bits behind him as he DJed. The overwhelmingness of the sweaty, densely packed crowd had subsided a bit but remained hype until the end of the night. It was definitely one of the craziest shows of this year, and many had the stains to prove it.
Personal Bias: Sobriety.
The Crowd: Mostly younger. Lots of Gumbi costumes, things that light up, and furry hats, and the like.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I've spent a lot of the night turnt the fuck up, I need to just relax for a second."
Random Notebook Dump:
Clothing designers Neff teamed up with Steve Aoki for his rock-inspired merch, which reinterpreted things like Jason masks and Dead Kennedy's iconography. Similar to Kanye West's controversial Yeezus shirt, one of the items featured a bloody skull in an Native headdress. The use of the headdress in EDM culture really has to go, and Aoki didn't help the cause much when he popped back up from his turntables to reveal a flashing light headdress he kept on for much of his remaining set.