Music reviewers over at UK news outlet The Guardian aren’t afraid of telling it like it is. Especially when something really, really sucks.
One writer in particular, Ian Gittins, absolutely ripped Steve Aoki a new one after in his review of a recent gig at London’s Brixton Academy. It’s hilarious and amazing. I’m not a big fan of writing negative reviews myself, but every now and then they’re both necessary and deserved. Whether you agree with his sentiments or not, the brutal honesty will surely make you laugh.
Gittins has no time at all for performance elements like cake throwing, champagne spraying and crowd surfing (which Aoki describes as “tools of expression”); Gittins calls them all out as “bone-headed gimmicks” and ends his review with the dismissive assessment that, “like any irredeemably superficial artist, Aoki craves gravitas and credibility… At 2am, watching him crowd-surf topless across a cake-bespattered moshpit, it is somehow difficult to believe.” Read the full original takedown over at The Guardian.
The Guardian has never been the biggest fan of mainstage dance sounds: its 2011 profile of Skrillex asked if he’s “the most hated man in dubstep”. But with Aoki about to kick off a 28-date North American tour for new album Neon Future, alongside a big money residency with Hakkasan in Las Vegas and an annual income of over US$23 million a year, it’s unlikely that a scathing review will ruin his mood for too long.
DJ in a dinghy bludgeons the audience into submission (1/5 stars)
The dance music world is plagued by a second wave of superstar DJs and producers and Steve Aoki is firmly in the vanguard. A cast-iron draw in the US, last year this indefatigable figure played close to 250 arena shows that netted him in excess of £15m.
Aoki has achieved this rarefied status by becoming a poster boy for EDM, the subtlety-free strain of blitzkrieg techno marked by colon-rearranging bass and shrill, brutally effective stabs of rave synths. Pitched at a level of relentless faux-delirium, this post-midnight show doesn’t so much seduce its audience as bludgeon it into submission.
Aoki’s brittle, cartoon trance is the club-music equivalent of a Michael Bay Hollywood blockbuster, all lowest-common-denominator action sequences and controlled explosions. And if you ever wondered what Smells Like Teen Spirit,Wonderwall or Bohemian Rhapsody would sound like with thumping house beats ladled over them, Aoki is your man.
Aoki’s kindred spirit Deadmau5 recently admitted that he does little at his live shows except to press play, and while Aoki sporadically twiddles a few knobs, he certainly has plenty of time to indulge his voluminous repertoire of bone-headed gimmicks. These progress from striking a crucifixion pose atop the DJ deck to hurling cake into the willing faces of the front row to bouncing across the crowd’s heads in a rubber dinghy.
Like any irredeemably superficial artist, Aoki craves gravitas and credibility, and has earnestly vowed that his next studio album will be a more profound, deep-house affair. At 2am, watching him crowd-surf topless across a cake-bespattered moshpit, it is somehow difficult to believe.
“I’m a respectable artist”