Steve Aoki takes the D.J. as Rock star thing to entirely new levels. His antics are masterful at inciting the crowd. From his hair-flinging and head banging to crowd-surfing, he transforms the audience into his own personal cult for the evening.
The crowd at Dragon-i last Saturday didn’t need much convincing. It seemed as though they arrived specifically to play their part. Even from the earliest moments, the audience was enthusiastic and willing.
Diplo was first on the turntables. He didn’t waste any time slowly building the vibe. Instead he started out playing Brazilian Funk and then went deeper into his own hybrid brand of dance music.[photopress:Diplo_DJ_Hong_Kong_Mad_Decent.jpg,full,pp_image]
Over the course of his set, much of the music consisted of his own productions. The crowd picked up on the patterns and knew which moments to respond. Hands were flailing for most of the night as people jumped up and down (partially because it was too packed in front of the d.j. booth to actually dance!)[photopress:Diplo_DJ_Dragon_I_Hong_K.jpg,full,pp_image]
I wasn’t expecting the type of rabid fanboys that turned up. These guys were a sweaty mess within the first fifteen minutes. The people massed up front definitely went overboard. You might mean to be conveying your admiration, but I don’t think Diplo enjoys it when you put your arms over the booth into his face while he’s playing. Exactly what do you want him to do? I don’t really get things like that. It’s not about you, it’s about him. Let the dude play.
Sheep of a different color (are still sheep!)
I have mixed feelings about the kind of blind enthusiasm of the crowd on Saturday night. On one hand, it’s great to see somewhat alternative, modern dance music d.j.s get a big response, however, it almost felt like a segment of the people were into the image of the music, rather than the music itself. I witnessed this before at Aoki’s Adidas Anniversary gig. People seemed like they were there for hero worship, rather than music appreciation.
I got the feeling that it didn’t matter whether it was Steve Aoki up there or Lady Gaga. The way that the crowd was reacting wasn’t the rapture from hearing the most amazing set, but more like the hysteria of Pop fans. This bothered me.
Let me try an analogy. It’s sort of like people who criticize clothes from The Gap as unoriginal, yet they themselves wear nothing but American Apparel. In essence, you’re just exchanging one uniform for another. The only difference is that one is marketed as alternative.
Though the music was harder than the norm at Dragon-i, the regulars were very receptive, and partied just as they do on other nights.
Originally slated as a back-to-back d.j.ing session, it ended up as two separate sets.[photopress:Diplo_Steve_Aoki_tour_Asia.jpg,full,pp_image]
Diplo’s music spoke for itself. Often there are intense breaks or choruses within his songs that dancers can easily pick up on. As the man behind some of the best new beats in club music, he gave a few “Hong Kong” shout-outs during his set, but kept the interaction to a minimum.
To the delight of the crowd, Steve Aoki took the opposite approach. Like I’ve stated before, this guy has charisma when it comes to working the crowd.[photopress:Diplo_Aoki_Hong_Kong_tour.jpg,full,pp_image]
Look at it this way, you can’t stage dive (or d.j. booth dive, in this case,) without a fanatical audience.[photopress:Steve_Aoki_dim_mak_DJ_HK.jpg,full,pp_image]
As a measuring stick of his success, Aoki didn’t crowd-surf just once, but something like four times over the course of the night![photopress:Steve_Aoki_DJ_Asia_Hong_Kong.jpg,full,pp_image]
(Some girl actually crowd-surfed too. The fact that she was wearing heels didn’t seem to stop her!)[photopress:crowd_surf_Dragon_i_Hong_K.jpg,full,pp_image] “Baby needs new shoes!”
Overall I had high expectations, which the night didn’t quite meet, but it was interesting to hear the two top d.j.s and witness their sets up close.