By Alexander Sansalone
The energy of “The Kolony Tour” is one of a kind. From start to finish. With feature sets from artists Max Styler, Ricky Remedy, Bok Nero, Quix, GrandTheft, Desiigner and more. In a recent interview with 97.1 AMP Radio, Steve promises “It’s going to be like one big ‘Rage Festʼ from beginning to end” and he and his kolony deliver flawlessly.
It’s been 3 years since Steve Aoki has toured the US. His recent album “Kolony” dropped last summer with an explosive feature listing including ILoveMakonnen, 2 Chainz, Lil Uzi Vert, Lil Yachty, Migos, Wale, and many more. Having kicked off in Washington DC, Philadelphiaʼs stunning Fillmore was the second stop of the tour.
If I was one of the biggest household DJʼs in the world, and I had spent my life crafting one of the most explosive set-lists fathomable: I wouldnʼt want any artist other than Desiigner to open for me. Desiigner didnʼt even have to speak to change the tempo of the crowd. His DJ took the stage playing Kanye’s “Freestyle 4” while dropping a couple of Desiigners notorious ad-libs (ex: tongue rolls) and the crowd went hysteric. Desiigner then took the stage with his mic, a smoke, and zebra styled fur jacket and the room exploded. From the moment he opened, staring off into the crowd, to the moment he closed performing in the middle of the crowd; the energy didnʼt drop once. He dropped monstrous hits from his 2016 album “New English” and gave hints of what to expect with his upcoming “LOD (Life of Desiigner)” album. After a half hour hypefest, he left the stage, the curtain went down, and the anticipation built.
The eager crowd chants were mixed: some chanting “Aoki, Aoki” while other sang the fight song of the newly Super-Bowl Champed Philadelphia Eagles. Either way, excitement was building. The lights go out, the music fades in, fog/confetti blast, and the curtain drops to reveal Steve in a green #11 Carson Wentz Eagles jersey.
The crowd. Goes. Wild!
Steve’s set was just under two hours. Two hours added to the already non-stop night of raging, just as he promised. For most DJ’s, filling this time slot with your own records/remixes can prove challenging. But not for Aoki. You can tell his character is not one to half-fast any aspect of his craft. He hit the crowds with an array of his own records from new club classics to remixes. Playing hits like Just hold on and Emergency (Ft Lil Jon), to new club classics like Kolony Anthem (ft ILoveMakonnen + Bok Nero), Been Ballin (Ft Lil Uzi Vert), Azukita (Ft Daddy Yankee + Play-N-Skillz + Elvis Crespo), Smoke My Dope (Ft Lil Uzi Vert) and more.
You could feel the love and connection Steve has with his fans from the back of the room to the front. The crowd consisted of everything an artist could hope to achieve in a fanbase. Young, old, and everything in between. At any given time there were groups of people heavy metal head bashing, fist pumping, dabbing, twerking and more. You could tell everyone in the venue had their own personal connection with Aoki. Every piece of tour merchandise was present in the crowd, in addition to fan signs and customized apparel.
Steveʼs performance as a DJ is unique. While other DJs stay behind the booth, Steve leaves it several times during his set. Having seen videos of him perform online, I always wondered how he did it without risking hardware malfunctions. (For those wondering – a backup DJ does, in fact, take the stage for “standby” in case anything goes wrong). This maneuver allows Aoki to really connect with his fans. He takes the front stage and performs a unique crowd control. He is not shy to rap along with the artists on his featured records and dance while splashing champagne into the crowd.
The production value of his stage for this tour is jaw-dropping. Aoki manages to cram an EDC (Electric Daisy Carnival) stage feel into a venue designed to hold around 2,000 spectators. Steve’s booth is crafted in the shape of his smiley face logo. The mouth is the booth, and two eye Xʼs dangle behind him. All shapes colorfully lit and in sync with his monstrous bangers. It’s a true spectacle for viewers. Steve kept at least a dozen champagne bottles under his table, all of which he would go on the explode into the crowd during drops of his set.It could be that I have only been to a couple EDM shows, but regardless there was no question that his stage presence syndicated and completed the futuristic environment.
Aoki has become notorious for ending his shows with cake throws. I knew it was coming, the venue knew it was coming, and every fan knew it was coming. But that didn’t affect the eruption of the room when he brought the first cake out. At least a dozen crowd members were hoisted by friends as they eagerly “sacrificed” their “Birthday” companions. What I think people weren’t prepared for, was that he had more than one cake. He threw one stage left, one stage right, and invited a fan on stage to get caked visibly in front of his 2,000 fans. He also brought Desiigner back to perform their track Mic Drop which was definitely worthy of ending the perfect rager Aoki and his Kolony had performed.
Bottom line, if you haven’t been to a Steve Aoki show; go. It’s more than a concert, it’s an experience.
(Photos by Alexander Sansalone)