Steve Aoki Headed an Army of DJ's
Who Launched a Massive Attack of Music on Santa Barbara EDM Fans
Steve Aoki returned to his roots to play two shows in Santa Barbara on January 20th. The first was a showcase concert at UCSB, his old Alma Mater. His career in music began in Isla Vista where he staged countless underground concerts in his “Biko Room”, where he lived in his college days. The master producer then formed his own record label, “Dim Mak”, in 1996. His work as a producer and collaborator was already legendary by the time he released his own first recording in 1998, “Pillowface and His Airplane Chronicles”. Since then he has become one of the most played remix artists in nightclubs around the world. Although he is not as well known as EDM pop DJ's like Euro Superstar Tiesto or American Favorite Deadmau5, his production and remix tentacles have a much more far reaching influence than most of his contemporaries. His brand of music is considered hard core, sort of like the Nine Inch Nails or Black Sabbath of EDM. His live shows have generated a large fanatical following of fans.
His second show in Santa Barbara was a much more elaborate affair than the University showcase, taking place in one of the concrete block houses in the Earl Warren Showgrounds. The Showgrounds have a long history of producing legendary live concerts in Santa Barbara, long before venues like the Santa Barbara Bowl were utilized. In the 60's many of the most popular bands in the world played there, including Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix. The cavernous hall utilized by Aoki and his army of opening DJ's, may not have had very good acoustics, but this was somewhat remedied by the massive bass speakers, necessary for the full effect of the thunderous and hypnotic dance beat. An ear shattering decibel level overcame the buildings acoustic shortcomings, a level so loud that the show could have not taken place legally anywhere outdoors in Santa Barbara. The music began early in the evening, with many in the 18 and under admission line waiting patiently for over an hour to get inside. The older crowd had an easier time of it with a fast track line to the inside and a private bar for the even more elderly 21 and up crowd. But this crowd was dominated by a festive rave fashioned crowd of eager young teenagers, tongue waging and rolling in ecstatic excitement. Nearly three and a half hours after the event started and 4 sets in to the evening, second in command DJ Datsik (AKA Troy Beetles) was still performing his set to a packed crowd of dance trance music fans. Datsik is a Dubstep DJ from British Columbia, and has several club hit releases in the last few years
By the time Aoki started his set at 10.45pm most everyone in the crowd was engrossed in a sweaty surge towards the stage. As the evening progressed, each new DJ booth would grow larger higher and more elaborate. By the time Aoki was revealed to the crowd his massive DJ booth towered above the crowd almost touching the ceiling. As soon as he began, the master mixer had the crowd engaged in a dancing frenzy. Like a wizard waving his wand, Aoki began to mix and flail about like a conductor of a possessed orchestra. Part of the appeal of his live shows are his animated histrionics that lend themselves well to endearing the DJ directly to the crowd. As and array of LED panels animated behind, large panels in front illuminated to spell out his name. Later giant floating balloon letters settled into the crowd also spelling his name. Occasionally the master showman would leap from his pedastal into the crowd and surf through the steamy masses. By the time his set ended shortly after midnight, he had presided over Santa Barbara's longest and most intense dance party in recent memory.