w/ Rae Sremmurd, DVBBS, T-MASS, GITCHII
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
San Francisco, CA
November 18, 2016
If you do an Internet search, you'll learn that the term "Dim Mak" refers to a martial arts technique that is used to kill without brute force, but rather targeting specific areas of the human body for execution. Translation: "Touch of Death". It's an intense name, but it honestly fits when you look at the countless records that producer Steve Aoki has presented to the world via his label, Dim Mak Records. Featuring artists not only in electronic dance music, but those in the worlds of punk rock, indie, hip-hop, and others, Dim Mak is a label apart from the others clustered in the dance music world. It's only fitting that the label that has struck so hard in many different genres has such an intense name to adorn it.
To celebrate twenty years of diverse music, Aoki threw a massive rave on a cold winter's night at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, featuring a stacked lineup consisting of hip-hop icons Rae Sremmurd, electro-house power duo DVBBS, and up-and-comers T-MASS and GITCHII.
GITCHII's set was up first, and it provided a good deal of ambience for the evening. To be honest, I couldn't really pin-point any specific genre during his set. There was a more relaxed vibe I got from his mix, perfect for an opener, but there were hints of hip-hop, house and other electronic genres peppered in throughout his set. GITCHII is still a rising producer, but his set provided a good introduction to a growing crowd making its way into the venue, taking their places throughout the next hour. T-MASS brought the energy up a bit more, with tracks that were based more in the origins of electro-house, dubstep, and trap than anything else.
The energy level was heightening, but no one was really prepared for the duo from Canada, DVBBS. I was blown away by how powerful their sound was. Even in the moments where they "slowed things down", the atmosphere was unbelievably electric. Notoriously known for being a hardcore party duo, brothers Alex and Chris van den Hoef ran onto the stage at full force, wasting no time throwing down some of the heaviest electro-house I've heard in the past two years. With one brother behind the decks (armed with a 40 oz. of...something...and a lit blunt), and another running around the stage, the show was transported to a completely different level.
The one act I knew the least about on the bill was Rae Sremmurd. I have to say that I was rather impressed. I'm not huge on the current state of hip-hop, but they performed with such ferocity and genuine excitement that it was hard to not enjoy it. Brothers Slim Jxmm and Swae Lee did marathon laps across the stage, with bright visuals prominently displayed behind them, as they spat verse after verse to a hyped up San Francisco crowd. The brothers later made an appearance during Aoki's set to tackle the coveted and viral "Mannequin Challenge", as they were the originators of the trend. It only made sense to perform by far the biggest one we've seen with the founders themselves.
Shortly before Aoki took the stage for what I would probably classify as one of the best DJ sets this entire year (at least in Northern California), a futuristic countdown and space-like images filled the massive LED screens that towered above the crowd. The lights went out as the drop built up, and once it kicked in, Aoki suddenly appeared as pounds of confetti and streamers rained down on the audience.
What was so great about Steve Aoki's track selection was that he didn't just reach for hits or standard EDM staples ; he remixes artists that are far outside the perimeters of dance music. A Blink-182 remix he created this year was played for the track "Bored To Death" (shortly followed by Aoki letting the track "What's My Age Again?" from the band's Enema of the State record run, with fans screaming the words back in excitement). The biggest highlight of the entire night for me was hearing his remix of the last band anyone would expect to be remixed: My Chemical Romance. The crowd got to witness his interpretation of the band's monumental "Welcome To The Black Parade" track, and I seriously can't even begin to explain how excited I am to own this once it's released later this month.
And of course, all of the classic non-musical elements of his show were in place as well. Showers of champagne, loads of confetti, spectacular pyrotechnics, and of course, a few lucky fans were "caked" (i.e., had specially made cakes thrown in their faces by Aoki and crew).
It's clear to see than any Steve Aoki show is a party, and it's truly impossible not to have fun. It's a dream come true for any dance music fan, and non-dance music listeners would probably get a kick out of it as well. His musical palette is so expansive, and there's really something for everyone. I can only hope he'll be back in the area next year to throw another massive party for us all.
Dim Mak Records
This has been another Shameless Promotion.