Watching a performer smash cake into an enthusiastic fan’s face sounds like something that would happen at a Blue Man Group show, not an EDM concert.
But when the EDM performer in question is Steve Aoki, all bets are off.
On June 30, 101.9 AMP Radio‘s Electric Bounce House packed the House of Blues Orlando with local and visiting EDM fans for an extended lineup of DJs performing, finishing the evening with headliner Aoki and the popular singer Bebe Rexha.
We arrived and made it through the line as DJ gnash was finishing up his set. The crowd reflected the diversity of EDM fans. Young adult, middle-aged, Hispanic, white, black, Asian, gay, straight…all were packed into the House of Blues like sardines in a can.
At 10pm, DJ Miles Medina and DJ E-Rock took the stage. While their set was high-energy and incorporated many popular EDM songs, the transitions were rough and disconcerting to hear. The best DJs in the business know how to blend music smoothly together so listeners can hardly tell where one song ends and another begins; Medina and E-Rock could stand to improve on this score, although mixing in songs like “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands” were clear crowd-pleasers.
The Jump Smokers took the stage next, with their signature blend of house EDM standards and contemporary pop. This DJ duo takes a “divide and conquer” approach to the stage, with DJ Flipside behind the mixing and DJ Roman interacting with the crowd as frontman and vocalist. Their popular remixes and enthusiastic style drove the show, which featured remixes of songs including “Everything Tonight”, “Shots”, “Soulja Boy”, Katy Perry’s “Firework”, and the Justin Timberlake single, “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
Talented singer-songwriter Bebe Rexha took the stage for a few songs right before Steve Aoki, and entranced the audience with her lyrical voice and her dancing skills. Despite a humorous near-mishap (Rexha’s microphone’s battery pack flew off her pants when she started dancing for the first time) her set showcased her impressive musical range, featuring performances of her hit song “Me Myself and I” with rapper G-Eazy and her new single “No Broken Hearts” with Nicki Minaj.
The concert, which was already scheduled before the June 12 attacks at Pulse, served as a benefit event with proceeds going to the OneOrlando Fund.
The most poignant moment of the evening came when morning show DJs Chad and Jill brought out Pulse bouncer and former Marine Imran Yousuf to introduce the headliner. Yousuf — a huge Steve Aoki fan– reportedly saved more than 60 lives that night by opening a back door that allowed people to flee the club. The crowd cheered more loudly for him than for any of the DJs except Aoki himself, breaking out into chants of “USA! USA! USA!” which were joined by the obviously moved Yousuf.
Steve Aoki‘s shows are legendary in the EDM world for being high-energy, creatively unique, and featuring a lot of cake. After attending one of his shows, it’s clear why he has achieved top-of-the-charts status on virtually every list of current EDM stars.
Aoki’s music enthused the crowd, as he largely mixed his own tunes and continued the trend of mixing in pop hits, even older hits like “Move It” and “How Deep is Your Love.” His original songs strongly favor the house genre, with occasional hints of trance and dubstep inspiration.
Even if you didn’t happen to care for the music, the video backgrounds used in a Steve Aoki concert are a source of entertainment all on their own. The nostalgia factor ran strong, as many were seemingly inspired by 8-bit video game design and ’90s computer screensavers along with other digital motifs.
Occasionally Aoki would stop the music to feature brief videos, including a South Park style “Donald Trump Sex Tape” and a clip of the most famous scene in ‘Titanic’ with Steve Aoki’s face over both Jack’s and Rose’s.
As for the stunts? Aoki’s reputation as a DJ is matched only by his reputation as a showman. Every DJ who appeared before him at House of Blues tantalized the crowds with promises about the number of cakes they had seen backstage.
When he took the stage, Aoki kept his audience anticipating the cake moment, but that doesn’t mean his show lacked energy. Quite the opposite. He bounced all over the stage dancing, climbing on tables and pulling fans up on stage to dance with him.
When he announced the song “Cake Face”, the crowd went wild. This is Aoki’s signature moment — pulling a sheet cake out of coolers brought onto the stage, the shirtless DJ moves from one side of the crowd to the other. Choosing his target, he aims, throws… And repeats. By the end of the song, at least ten people near the stage (and a whole bunch more who were standing around them) went home covered with the sugary confections and the memory of a wildly unique night of EDM performances.
Electric Bounce House took place at House of Blues in Disney Springs on June 30, 2016. It was hosted by 101.9 AMP Radio and proceeds were donated to the One Orlando Fund. To explore their upcoming events, visit 1019ampradio.cbslocal.com.
[Photos by Greg Trujillo]