Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki leave Vancouver raving

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      At the PNE Forum on Friday, October 15

      A decade on from the demise of rave culture, electronic music has seeped back into the mainstream; it’s in the fluorescent synths and mechanical beats that propel everything from radio-friendly rap and R&B (think FloRida) to ravey indie-rock (Animal Collective) to the sun-bleached dreamscapes of the so-called chillwave scene (Nite Jewel).

      Scotsman Calvin Harris and his American counterpart Steve Aoki have been instrumental in resurrecting rave music, in large part because neither of them grew up caring much for the form at all. Harris is a lanky introvert who loved football, not music, as a teenager; Aoki is a longhaired millionaire’s son who was throwing hardcore-punk shows when he was still in college. Each came to dance music relatively late in life, and each brought to it something the form was missing—stadium-sized riffs and vocal hooks from Harris, full-throttle punk energy and a rock-star persona from Aoki.

      In the UK, Harris headlines stadiums, but on this night he took to the decks first, drawing mostly from his own catalogue of singles and remixes to set the largely teenaged audience aflame. Where the typical set at a ”˜90s-era rave played like one continuous track, the long wavelengths hypnotizing dancers for hours at a time, Harris’s performance was an all-out heart attack, ragged peaks arriving at breakneck speed, broken up by blasts of white noise which marked the passage from one song to the next. Somewhere in the mayhem’s midst, the Dumfries native dialled the clock back, airing a pair of golden oldies (Daft Punk’s “One More Time” and Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You”) that seemed almost quaint for their sweet melodies and measured tempos.

      When those songs were first charting, most of those in attendance on this night were toddlers. Words simply can’t do justice to just how insanely energetic the kids were on this night. As in the rave era’s heyday, they, and not the DJs, were the show’s real performers, dancing with such abandon that it might not have mattered what the headliners played. Whatever Aoki aired, the crowd adored, whether it was his recent collaborations with Lil Jon and Travis Barker, or his remix of Jason Derí¼lo’s “Whatcha Say”. At one point, he grabbed the microphone and sang the throat-strafing lyrics to a hardcore song called “Shut the Fuck Up”; the crowd indulged him, generating a mosh pit lethal enough to impress even a hardened Cobalt crust-punk.

      Aoki bookended his headlining slot with a pair of stage-dives and struck countless Jesus Christ poses throughout, taking what Harris had left him (a room in full rolling boil) and supercharging it. Basically he whipped the already whipped-up crowd into a state of gleeful delirium that this reviewer can’t recall ever having witnessed. It’s tempting to think that most of those kids must have been on drugs, but when the night ended (at 11 p.m. sharp), and the house lights came back on, they seemed like a thoroughly sober bunch, a few thousand anonymous souls with greasy hair and bad posture and six or seven decades to reminisce about the night they became stars.




      Oct 16, 2010 at 7:46pm

      LOL bunch of 16 years old running around watching mr Aoki dance around like a cheerleader to his songs that are pre mixed and recorded.... Get outta here and go write on some real talent for a change and not this corporate bullshit

      MJ Merrick

      Oct 16, 2010 at 8:42pm

      It's good to hear that the kids are out supporting the music. MY money is on the fact that 70% of them has never bought a CD in their lives, so at least they are supporting music that needs it, although these two artists specifically may not.


      Oct 17, 2010 at 8:31pm

      Whatever, just as long as they are leaving!


      Oct 18, 2010 at 11:38pm

      id say calvin was better live than on record, and steve aoki.. i don't know some of his remixes can be alright to a point, but... not really my thing. he was sort of just dancing around to his own tunes which was lame.