STEVE AOKI at OGDEN THEATRE | 11/12/13 Before Steve Aoki took the stage, as the lights dropped and the crowd chanted the headliner's name, two human pillars of symmetrical hexagons took the stage on each side, and a digitized voice slowly intoned "A-O-KI." As soon as the Aoki took his place, confetti rained down and the lights started tracing the contour of the crowd, and didn't stop. It's a bold move starting your show with what some would consider a grand finale.
What we would later learn about the pillars of hexagons is that they were actually cryo-gun wielding robots sent to cool the crowd in rigid choreography. There's always going to be a creative boundary to push in visual production as long as there are people performing in front of it, and with these cryo-bots, it seems Aoki, who blasted the crowd himself, has been able to add yet another element.
Adding to the mayhem of an already hyped crowd was the ritual cake toss, during which Aoki takes cakes and catapults them into the throng, making sure everybody gets a taste. "No Beef," a "Pon De Floor" evoking dance hall track, provided the soundtrack. Elsewhere, Aoki worked his way through some tracks from Wonderland, interspersed with some of new stuff with Linkin Park. When Borgore joined him for the track they released together, they had the whole crowd chanting their names in unison. With Aoki performing at least 200 shows a year, it's impressive that he can maintain this pace and level of energy without ever letting it seem like any of this is getting old for him.
Earlier in the evening, the swelling crowd threw down with Waka Flocka and the Brick Squad. As strange as it might seem to see Waka sharing a bill with Aoki and Borgore, it's not like these genres haven't crossed before: Waka's "Hard in da Paint" has been remixed by multiple producers, and he rapped on the Borgore collaboration "Wild Out." So the groundwork had basically already been laid.
Early on in the set, DJ Ace, Alien Warr and Waka stepped up with "Bustin at em."This is around the same time he noticed a fan getting too wild in crowd. He pulled the "SQUAD" emblazoned shirt wearing kid up and let him party on stage for nearly the rest of the show. (How cool is that?) With a seemingly never ending supply of ladies on stage attempting to Miley Cyrus their way into the YouTube Hall of Shame, the kid had the best view in the house. He jumped around with a microphone during "Clap," even though it was only really Waka's growling lyricism that could be heard through the stacks, and even slapped a few fives from the front row.
Later, during "Wild Boy," Waka showered the crowd in champagne during a jaunt through the main floor of the Ogden, and a return to the stage for "It's a Party." As presumed, "Hard in da Paint" had the whole place charged with a feverish propensity to act insane, and with that, Brick Squad thanked Denver and cleared out.
Borgore, the Israeli dubstep producer who's sex-fueled tracks have become nursery rhymes for a bass-eating generation of fans, took the stage next and set the tone immediately with two strippers flanking him on poles. With the place going crazy over Flux Pavilion and Doctor P "classics" (is it considered too soon to call it that given the current rate at which we fans devour music?), things really went off like no other at the request of Borgore himself when his remix of the Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman" bled into "Clarity."
With ice cream cone confetti cannons, super imposed animated porn cartoons and strippers spinning up and down the poles, Borgore declared that "the next song is dedicated to all the girls that love sex." It was that kind of night.
Personal Bias: I was surprised, but stoked, to see Waka Flocka and crew on this bill. By the way: With all the blood, drunk-tank pickups, and full paramedic area, you'd have the thought this was a hardcore metal show -- granted, the happiest hardcore metal show ever. Random Detail: How one gets angry, or can get angry, at a show that is literally the simplest formula for having a good time, is beyond me.