If you’ve never seen a shirtless man with long, raven hair—sweat glistening, arms in the sky—crowd-surfing on a rubber dinghy, then you obviously haven’t been spending your Friday nights with Steve Aoki. The world-famous electro-house DJ performed for a sold-out crowd on March 2 at Toronto’s Kool Haus.
The all-ages, fluorescent-clad throng—not unlike the one we saw in November when Canada’s electro-house hero Deadmau5 wowed the Rogers Centre—was entertained by four opening acts including Canada’s own dubstep DJ from British Columbia, Datsik (a.k.a. Troy Beetles). The screaming fans—including Juno-nominated dance diva Mia Martina–were wild for Aoki when he appeared (on schedule!) at 12:30 a.m., delivering the goods from his debut studio album, Wonderland, a compilation that took third place behind mainstream music acts Lana Del Rey and Snow Patrol when it was released on iTunes on January 10. Aoki held court from a green, glowing altar-like booth, sprinting across the stage one minute, kneeling with his arms raised to the ceiling the next.
The show, like Wonderland, was grounded in a non-stop pulsating beat, peppered with catchy hooks and the recognizable guest vocals of some of the album’s most popular tracks (“Livin’ My Life,” with LMFAO, for example). The highlight came close to 2 a.m. when Aoki finally delivered “Cudi the Kid,” featuring hip-hop artist and frequent dance music–collaborator Kid Cudi. By this time, the masses—chanting “one more song”–were sweat-covered, the guys mostly shirtless and the girls in bikinis and tank tops. Yet they proved no match for Aoki: the artist who was having as much fun, or more, as the kids who bought his tickets.–Julia LeConte