Steve Aoki blows power fuses

Review: Even with four power outages at The Westcott Theater, electro-house DJ Steve Aoki kept a sold-out crowd rolling hard.

Steve Aoki started by buttering them up.

“Yo, I just got off a long, f---ing flight from Brazil,” the DJ said before taking the stage a few minutes past midnight. “I was playing for a São Paolo crowd of 15,000 for one hour, because I knew I had to get back in time to play for you."

Photo: Elizabeth Reyes
Fans hold up a sign after Aoki brings a cake on stage.


“I knew if I missed this gig, I’d be pissed,” Aoki continued. “I cut that s--- short so I could be with you guys. One of the best places in the f---ing world is right here in New York.”

More screams. “A-Oh-Key, A-Oh-Key,” the crowd chanted.

The Westcott Theater holds up to 700 for sold-out shows, but some audience members didn’t even make it inside. “People are getting kicked out left and right, man,” complained a beefy 20-something wearing a STAFF shirt at 10 p.m.

The show's openers — Direktor, Mike Smiroldo, and Chemicals of Creation — harnessed the energy of the crowd, but to any person unfamiliar with the electronica scene, they were just four dudes taking turns onstage with loud speakers and stickered MacBooks.

Direktor, wearing what at first appeared to be a vintage gas mask with fangs, brought the darkness. He joined in dancing with the crowd after his set, but lost points for charisma for keeping the mask on the whole time. A crowd wants to see the whites of your eyes.

Smiroldo, in a black Dropbox T-shirt and miniature ponytail, typed on his MacBook with surprising grace, as if playing an actual instrument. After leaving the stage, he spent the rest of the show in front of the left-side wall, allowing a short brunette to grind on his jeans as he stood and bobbed his head.

Chemicals of Creation brought the most energy of the openers and remixed current tunes like The Wanted’s “Glad You Came,” but their set, peppered with intermittent seal or dolphin calls, lasted too long.

Smokers milling outside greeted anyone who exited with a very urgent question: Is Aoki on yet?

Finally, Aoki took the stage (with no stickered MacBook to shield him from the crowd). Unlike his openers, he didn’t rely solely on the throttle of the bass drop. Between esophagus-rattling thumps, Aoki spun metallic whirs of helicopter blades and chainsaws among light, haunting tings of a chime. His fingers pointed upward, waving and twitching along with the rolling vibrations, as if sprinkling the room in pixie dust.

You know you're watching a master DJ when he doesn't pump his fist to his own music, but rather stands still, arms outstretched, face to the ceiling, like Christ delivering the crowd from the mediocre opening acts. Somehow, Aoki managed this with zero pretension.

Music aside, Aoki fit Matt Groening’s rule of thumb for any good character: an identifiable silhouette. With slouching, sinewy shoulders, lemon headphones and long, stringy hair, the crowd never lost sight of Aoki as he jumped around the stage silhouetted by a nonstop barrage of blazing lights.

Aoki opened his set with a brand new track he said "no one’s heard before.” The crowd bounced madly. As a bass-dripping crescendo neared climax, silence fell. Was it part of his act?

“This mixer is all out of power, what happened?” Aoki asked. “Westcott Theater, the power just went out here. What just happened? Where’s the stage manager?”

Electro-house party foul. Most of the crowd started to boo. There were plenty, however, who didn’t seem to notice the problem. A curly-haired girl with dollar bills tucked into her blue bra yelled, "I love ganja!" and continued to dance by herself without music. The power came back in about 45 seconds and Aoki slipped right back into the rhythm.

The crowd knew the short lyrics by heart. “Attention passengers, this is your captain speaking,” Aoki screamed.

“We hit turbulence,” the crowd screamed back.

Then the music cut out again. Aoki got visibly pissed.

“Alright, seriously. Yo, who’s stepping on the goddamn plug?” he asked the theater. “Where’s the f---ing sound technician?”

Still, the music came back in a minute and Aoki, again, jumped back in. It happened a couple more times throughout the night, but only gave some crowd members a break to sample whatever they had left over from 4/20. Aoki’s fizzy Kid Cudi collaboration “Cudi the Kid” drew any wallflowers right back to the dancefloor.

Aoki knew how to build on his own momentum and bring the show a little higher with each new song. For the sweaty, neon crowd monster sucking on lollipops and throwing glow sticks, Aoki had the remedy for an otherwise sleepy Sunday on Westcott Street.



11:10 p.m.  - Someone releases the beach balls.

12:32 a.m. - Aoki holds up a green bottle of Korbel Brut champagne, pops it, drinks it and sprays it liberally on the crowd.

12:50 a.m. - A wild inflatable raft appears. Aoki pulls a girl from the crowd in a shredded neon top. We can’t hear her, but she’s clearly yelling, “I’m so scared!” He sends her sailing into the crowd regardless.

1:05 a.m. - Aoki takes a carton of milk and pours it on the front row. Do people like this?

1:08 a.m. - Aoki stops the music to take a group photo with the crowd for his Facebook page, demanding all the press photographers onstage with him get This Shot. “I want Syracuse to represent on my f---ing Facebook tomorrow,” Aoki bellows. “I want to see all you motherf---ers. Everyone give me your f---ing rage face.”

1:13 a.m. - A new collaboration is about to launch. “No one else has heard this track,” Aoki yells. “You’re literally the first people in the world to hear this f---in’ record. Don’t YouTube this shit, it’s f---ing brand new, man. No YouTubing that shit.”

1:15 a.m. Aoki opens up a box with a beautiful cake with his record label "Dim Mak" written in red frosting. Neon girls wave their arms hopefully. He plants it on a girl in the front.

1:18 a.m. Aoki shakes and sprays another champagne bottle.

1:24 a.m. Aoki throws water bottles into the crowd. They appreciate a DJ who cares about hydration.

1:30 a.m. - Another girl gets caked. This time "Dim Mak" is written in blue icing. Don't tell my mother they're wasting this much food.


Steve Aoki and other DJ's like your self are garbage and she's just unbaisedly giving her opinion about it all? I unfortuantly but curiously came across this while I was looking up Lotus's show at the Westcott. I couldn't help but read about this pathetic and ubsurdly rediculous scene; sort of like you can't keep your eyes away from a terrible car crash. Listen to 'live music' , none of those frauds were even playing LOL. In fact all the others probably 'played more' than Aoki himself. Dancing and jumping in the crowd like a clown. Nevertheless the venue seems cool, can't wait for Lotus. 

I comepletely agree with you.

I comepletely agree with you. All she had done was bashed the musician's. And she obviously hardly knows anything about the electronic music scene. 


haha we relased the beach balls and all the other inflatables!


This is sad.

First off, nice try at writing a creative concert review; however, I think most people at the venue, and certainly the opening acts who I know personally are all very talented at what they do and thus picked  for a reason to open for this show, would be offended by what you've written here. As a signed producer and DJ who has played many shows at The Westcott I know I am. 

I question the morals of any writer who personally attacks a musician for being themselves in the crowd after their performance, whether that involves wearing a mask or dancing with girls.

Also, the reason that Chemical's set went on for longer than planned was because Aoki had to fly from BRAZIL. It takes a bit of time to get to Hancock airport and then drive from there to The Westcott. Instead of insulting Chemicals of Creation, this article should praise them for continuing to keep the show running smoothly when no one was sure when Aoki would arrive.

Speaking as someone who has played an attended many shows at The Westcott, I'm saddened to see an author who has limited knowledge of what she was writing about trash a group of musicians who are not only talented, but also genuinely nice people who would never dare to write something this offensive. If this same author reviews a show at which I play I am going to have to respectfully request that she does not write about my act because I will not stand for being slandered by a complete stranger and neither will Direktor, Mike, or Chemicals of Creation. 



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