Steve Aoki is one of the more polarizing figures in dance music today. The purists hate him – to them he represents everything that is wrong in the scene. The kids love him – they show up in droves, ready to be pummeled in the face with cake and maced with champagne. To me, Steve Aoki is electronic punk music: it’s The Warped Tour with synthesizers, it’s EDM for the younger generation. Mosh pits and crowd surfing rarely, if ever, accompany a DJ set but they are guaranteed during one of Steve’s. His productions are simple, catchy, and highly contagious just like the punk acts that predated him (and defined many of our teenage years.) And just like those acts – I can’t help but enjoy it.
His set at Ultra Music Festival embodied the Aoki mentality completely. The crowd thrashed along to many of the tracks off his Wonderland LP. Aoki was accompanied by countless guests (Polina and Wynter Gordon) who performed their tracks live while Steve stood on top of the decks, next to the decks, in front of the decks… and occasionally behind them. He roamed the stage engaging fans and inciting them to get rowdier. Countless bottles of champagne were sprayed all over his adoring fans, and one lucky group even got the highly coveted reward of having a birthday cake smashed in their faces.
Opening with a heavy hitting ID track that was reminiscent of “BRATT!” Aoki quickly followed with “Come with Me” featuring Polina. As he hopped from track to track off of Wonderland, familiar guests appeared to perform their vocals overtop Aoki’s blistering instrumentals.
Steve Aoki feat. Polina – Come With Me (Deadmeat)
Sue me, but I can’t help but get excited to see Lil’ Jon in person.
Steve Aoki and Laidback Luke feat. Lil Jon – Turbulence
Steve Aoki’s collaboration with Angger Dimas, “Steve Jobs” was electrifying when heard over the Main Stage’s speakers. Its 8-bit opening bass line calmed the crowd of moshing fans down just long enough to recharge before Angger Dimas’s signature, insane breakdown caused an explosion of crowd surfing bodies.
Steve Aoki feat. Angger Dimas – Steve Jobs
Steve takes the Bassnectar, downtempo, dub sound and slams a shot of adrenaline into its heart on his remix of “Red Step.” This remix could incite a riot.
Bassnectar – Red Step (Steve Aoki Remix)
We heard “Ladi Dadi” in all its forms countless times over the course of Miami Music Week, but seeing Wynter sing it herself was the best way to experience it.
Steve Aoki feat. Wynter Gordon – Ladi Dadi
For his final stunt, Steve rode an inflated raft onto the hands of the crowd and sprayed a bottle of champagne high into the air. As he surfed across the arms, hands and heads of the excited crowd they clawed and grabbed just for a chance to get in the boat with one of their idols.
He may not have wowed us with his mixing the same way The Sex Pistols never wowed anyone with their singing or guitar playing – it was never about that – it was about being raw, and visceral and unapologetically fun.