Although the Orpheum’s sound system may have been ill-equipped to handle the heavy dose of bass Datsik’s signature grimy wobbles threw at it, from the moment the baseball-capped Canadian dubstep DJ climbed up behind his booth it was clear he was going to do his damnedest to ensure the audience had as much fun as he did. Luckily, fun was what the overwhelming number of baseball-capped crowd members came out on a Wednesday night were after.
Though the audience wasn’t instantly sold on Datsik’s opening wubs, the cheer that erupted when the DJ segued into Skrillex’s remix of “Levels” further shook the already-vibrating venue. When he segued out of the ever-popular tune, however, the audience became markedly less thrilled.
The first third of Datsik’s set featured no video visuals, no dance beat consistency, and no solid “fuck yeah” moments from the largely house kid audience. The tracks were definitely grimy, undeniably hip-hop heady and undoubtedly Datsik, but the difficulty in discerning one song from another or even in describing this part of the set as a collection of songs left the audience almost listless, waiting to pounce on whatever beat they could pump their fists to.
Datsik, however was amped the entire set: Even when he stopped to take a drink, his head was nodding and his other hand was flailing. Maybe it was the Rockstar he was chugging, but everyone else had to wait for a moment of dub genius to become enthused.
Until he played “The Devil’s Den,” that is. The Skrillex and Wolfgang Gartner track awoke the beast in the audience, sending one fan flying over the crowd in what would prove to be far from the last body pass of the night. When Datsik transitioned out of the song with a buildup that could only be described as filthy, his video kicked in, flashing a Technicolor mirror video of the DJ thrashing and tweaking his set.
The rest of the set was a whirlwind of bobbing heads, remixed tracks and Datsik favorites. Fans heard everything from Kanye and Jay-Z’s “Niggas in Paris” to a revamped version of Datsik’s own collaboration with Excision, “Swagga,” to a shockingly good dubstep mix of Calvin Harris’ “Feel So Close,” with DJ Khaled’s club favorite “I’m On One” and Knife Party’s “Internet Friends” thrown in for good measure.
In his hour long set, Datsik stayed true to his hip-hop influences by mixing in both Ice Cube and Dead Prez, but appeased the mainstream dubstep (cough, brostep) fanbase with some Bassnectar and Rusko as well. Only in the final moments (after crying “I’m going to play something obnoxious right now”) did the true Datsik wobble re-emerge, but only as part of an aborted finale cut off by time restraints.
Datsik brought Madison a varied set the audience hungrily ate up. Although his original material has not yet proved drool-worthy to the masses, the live set cemented the DJ’s status as a masterful remixer who can throw a hell of a party.
Steve Aoki turned the Orpheum Theater into his own personal playground on Wednesday night, and the Madison crowd was more than happy to indulge his antics in return for a hypnotic light show and a steady stream of house beats.
Although his set was relatively short – stretching a bit over an hour including the encore – Aoki packed it with champagne, cake and crowd-surfing, not to mention his tracks.
His Madison stop with Datsik was part of the 2012 Deadmeat Tour, a show hyped as having a new light show. The epileptic, geometric display delivered. Above Aoki and his glowing deck were five gigantic screens blasting neon-drenched images of everything from disembodied eyeballs to lyrics and pictures of Aoki himself.
Aoki gave the audience zero down time, and paced his hits so the furious energy of bros and candy kids alike never had time to ebb. Early in the show, he released “Turbulence,” his collaboration with Lil Jon and Laidback Luke, onto the crowd, and didn’t disappoint with “Warp” midway through.
But the hip-hop producer and the Bloody Beetroots were far from the only artists to make a musical cameo. Aoki played his new tracks with Rivers Cuomo of Weezer (“Emergency People”) and Kid Cudi (“Cudi the Kid”). His “Pursuit of Happiness” remix punctuated the show climatically, paired with a dizzying flow of psychedelic light.
Just as the light show constantly reminded the crowd they were in the presence of Steve Aoki with a barrage of pictures of him rocking his signature mane, Aoki knew his audience. He donned a Badgers’ jersey and danced around with a cheese head-and somewhere along the line, both the jersey and the cheese head got lost.
The music would’ve been enough, but at least four bottles of champagne, a bowl of candy and a cake in the face of a few lucky Aoki groupies were just the right amount of whimsy to make the show something to behold.
He jumped into the crowd on several occasions – to the anxiety of the security staff on stage – taking pictures and generally loving life. But just as a kid gets tired after running around a jungle gym non-stop, by the end of the show, a sweaty and shirtless Aoki looked beat. Kneeling on the top of his booth, he stretched out his arms like a sort of Christ of House.
In a symbiotic Wednesday show, Aoki fed off the crowd’s energy, and the crowd in turn willingly bought what he was selling through his speakers. It was only fitting that he obliged clamoring fans after the show with an encore spin.