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GALLERY + REVIEW: STEVE AOKI, DESIIGNER (UPTOWN THEATER / KANSAS CITY, MO)

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If you drove by the Uptown Theater around 7:00 PM this past Sunday, your eyes were probably drawn to a line of neon-clad concert-goers, eager to cross the building’s threshold and enter the world of one of EDM’s sharpest minds.

Kansas City is one of 32 stops on Steve Aoki’s Kolony Tour, a celebration of his album of the same name. The album blends hip-hop and EDM, and the live show does no less with openers Bad Royale, Grandtheft, and Desiigner, whose contagious and kinetic energy was carried swiftly through the near-capacity crowd.

But as the stage changed over from Desiigner’s DJ booth to Aoki’s, a palpable sense of collective anticipation rolled from the back of the house down to the photo pit, where the most dedicated fans had been dancing against the front barricade for the better part of three hours. When the curtain came up to reveal Aoki behind light boxes in the shape of Kolony’s album art, hands thrusted into the air in unison and welcomed the producer with enthusiasm and delight as confetti and steam canons exploded at the front of the stage.

A set that primarily evoked feelings of elation from the audience was brought to a somber turning point about ten minutes in as Aoki paid tribute to Chester Bennington, the late Linkin Park frontman who lost his battle with depression last summer. Dwarfed by videos of Bennington playing on the screen behind him, Aoki pointed upward and sang along to Bennington’s words. Not one to dwell in sadness, Aoki brought the crowd back to a place of joy and excitement when the final chorus ended and one beat bled into another.

Aoki carried energy through every minute of his set, while fans matched the intensity and enthusiasm of his music with their cheers and upward-thrusting fists until the very last beat was dropped.

 

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