American “electro house” DJ Steve Aoki landed in Vernon Thursday with his Aokify America Tour.
Bringing a large arena stage set-up, the small, quiet town of Vernon wasn’t spared any tricks that the tour’s larger cities have experienced. A complete neon and LED light show, 10-foot dancing robots, confetti-cannons and cake all appeared at the show to complement the amazing electronic music sets that Vernon received.
Let’s rewind a bit to the buzz that filled the crisp, very cool air outside the doors of Kal Tire Place, formerly known as Wesbild Centre, before the concert started.
I was amazed to see an ever-growing mass of die-hard fans accumulating in front of the building in minus seven degree weather an hour before the concert was even scheduled to start. Part of the excitement was there for those who had purchased VIP “meet and greet” tickets that entitled the concert-goers an opportunity to have an up close and personal moment with Aoki himself.
This truly kicked off and tied into a very unique concert for Vernon. Aoki proved to be a fan-focused artist, taking the time not only in his meet and greet, but as well on stage to make sure everyone felt special and attended to. He went as far as finishing his set 10 minutes early at the end of the night to come down to the floor and take pictures with each eager fan holding out their cell phone, chanting and clambering at their hero. He didn’t miss one.
Warming up the stage before Aoki was DJ duo Botnek, a high-energy set that was a perfect start-up to match the buzz the fans brought with them to the show.
After Botnek, fans were treated to Atlanta rap/DJ team Waka Flocka Flame and DJ Ace, two guys who were determined to bring the dance floor into a sweat. And that they did. Waka Flocka played 50 per cent of the set right in the crowd, making him an instant contender to be a crowd favourite for the evening.
Just when you thought perhaps even Aoki wouldn’t be able to top Waka Flocka’s stage presence and delivery, on to the stage came Borgore, an Israeli electro DJ whose dark style dub step influence comes from a heavy metal background.
Borgore was accompanied on stage by two very athletic dancers who didn’t stop for even a three second water break. Borgore proved that the entire lineup for the evening was strategically designed to get better and better, all leading up to the much anticipated Aoki to deliver as the night’s cherry on top.
Aoki didn’t do anything short of giving the fans more than their money’s worth.
Above the stage hung large individual letters, A-O-K-I, that moved from ceiling to floor throughout Aoki’s time on stage. Just as things seemed to be getting as good as we thought they would get, all of a sudden big robots were lit up from head to toe in LED string lights. They came alive on stage and started spraying the audience with clouds of Co2.
But, never mind the robots, moving stage parts or the incredible light show, Aoki’s crowd interaction took the cake, literally, with his infamous cake toss at willing fans.
He sprayed the crowd with a dozen bottles of champagne and threw at least that many cakes.
The end of the night came fast and was an absolute riot of success. In the end, Vernon was able to have their cake and eat it too.
— Matt Brown is a local actor, director and owner of The Hub Arts Collective in Vernon. He was one of the “older” kids at the show.