Steve Aoki makes the crowd hop with booming set

Steve Aoki perform on the Liberty Stage during the Budweiser Made in America Festival, on the Ben Franklin Parkway, in Philadelphia on August 30, 2014.

One man. One mixing board. By all rights, Steve Aoki shouldn’t have that much power.

But with his booming elecronica set on Saturday night, the globetrotting DJ had the crowd at MIA hopping like Pavlov’s kangaroos for a solid hour.

The Aoki EDM experience is a ritual of frenzy and abandon. It’s part carnival music, part sports arena spectacle, all powered with an insane underbody of bass. And it’s completely machine-tooled.

Melodies aren’t Aoki’s stock in trade; he deals in textures, building up again and again to his propulsive grooves. And every time he would drop the crowd into another of his sonic bouncy houses,it would roar and surge.

The odd formalism that marks many of Aoki’s recorded song structure doesn’t translate to the stage. It’s all about stunning the crowd’s  collective thalamus. And the MIA revelers happily submitted to being short-circuited by Aoki’s mad mechanics.

-- David Hiltbrand

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