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When you think of a typical EDM show, I bet you immediately think of a dark room, thunderous bass, smoke and lights, and a godly silhouette of a DJ perched on an elevated platform. Behind the boards, it’s expected that this DJ will mix tracks, turn knobs, mess with the levels, and clap their hands in the air as you lose yourself to the music. While that is the typical formula that has worked for hundreds of DJ’s, Steve Aoki’s live performances have kicked that up a notch. One of the reasons why Steve Aoki has gone onto become one of the biggest names in international dance music is he understood what it meant to put on a show and not just play a set. In addition to delivering great music all night long, Aoki has been known for over-the-top production, guest appearances, and on-stage antics like crowd surfing in inflatable rafts and (in)famously throwing full-sized sheet cakes into faces in audience. Steve Aoki’s HiroQuest Genesis Tour made a stop at the Shrine Auditorium on 3/10/2023 and I knew I had stop by to witness the mayhem. Let’s hop into it.

First up was Juuku. The bass-house DJ opened with a captivating set that swung from pulsating dark dubstep to slow emotional tunes. He absolutely killed it and proved why he is one of Dim Mak’s rising stars. Up next was Regard. I was not familiar with Regard’s music until this show, but I am now a certified fan. In 2019, Regard blew up when his song “Ride It” went viral on TikTok. Unlike other musicians who have blown up and fizzled away as one-hit-wonders, Regard stuck around because “Ride It” simply unlocked the rest of his catalog to the masses. From beginning to end, Regard pumped out high energy tracks that kept the crowd moving all set long. Second to last was Morten. The Danish DJ served the crowd with a heavy dose of “future rave” bangers, a term coined by both Morten and his close friend David Guetta. Bridging the genres of techno and house, Morten was the perfect layup for the final act of the night, Steve Aoki.

After a short intermission, the crowd erupted as Aoki appeared behind the boards. Diving right into his set, the music was accompanied by full blown animated visuals, smoke, confetti bombs, streamers, lights, and pyrotechnics. The Dim Mak founder simultaneously hit the crowd with a flurry of surprise guests. The crowd was treated to appearances by Dixie Damelio, Hayley Kiyoko, Kiiara, Moxie Raia, No Love For The Middle Child, Bok Nero, Grandson, and Snow Tha Product. Each of them were warmly greeted by the fans as they performed the vocals to their respective Aoki-produced songs. Near the end of the night, Aoki’s entourage came out with the sheet cakes. Bullseye after bullseye, Aoki nailed several fans in the face with a Dim Mak branded cake. The crowd (literally) ate it up as Aoki winded down his set with a few more jams and finally called it a night.

All in all, Steve Aoki absolutely surpassed all expectations in a carefully curated show. He dropped all his viral hits, brought out a star-studded lineup of beloved guests, took full advantage of grand level production, and interacted with the fans on a level that most DJs cannot. Go see this act next time he’s playing near you. You will not regret it. After seeing him kill it at the Shrine Auditorium, it became really clear to me: Steve Aoki is not just a DJ. He’s the life of the party.


Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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