STEVE AOKI, PHARRELL, BORGORE & WAKA FLOCKA FLAME ‘AOKIFY AMERICA’

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Rubber rafts, confetti cannons, pole dancers, champagne showers and casual cake-throwing, Steve Aoki’s Aokify America tour raids the party store and chucks the beat right in your face. Fusing EDM and rap in an eclectic lineup of Aoki’s specially-selected buddies: superstar producer Pharrell Williams, Atlanta rapper Waka Flocka Flame and Israeli EDM artist Borgore, the US-wide bus tour attempts to unite genres in a big ol’ party, with some surefire hits and valiant misses. Interviewing the man himself for Fuse, Waka Flocka Flame asked the unfalteringly cheerful Aoki what his tour rules were,“There are no rules. It’s all about making the craziest tour we could possibly make, and we’re all in the space just to turn it up.”

Refraining from branding the event as an EDM fest, the seemingly random Aokify America tour has been cleverly positioned as a big ol’ party bus, allowing booking to extend from outlandish beat-spinner Borgore to highly energetic hip hop artist Waka Flocka Flame, with producer heavyweight Pharrell Williams appearing at select dates, including the weekend’s two NYC shows. The central threesome are meant to represent the pack leaders of their respective genres, while Aoki is joined on stage by the absolute highlight of the tour, robotmaster Kryoman with his electronic, remotely-controlled neon creatures. Rounding up a swag of talented newcomers like Rune RK, Keys N Krates and Dirtyphonics to spin sets before the main event, the Aokify America tour is one epic style mash-up.

Whether sitting on opposite sides of the genre fence, the eclectic crew headlining the Aokify America tour hold one crucial element in common: crowd-pleasing. From Waka Flocka Flame’s crowd-aimed champagne spraying to Borgore’s in-your-face video backdrops and tacky pole dancers, these extroverted artists employ crazy antics to capitalise on frenzied herd mentality. Aoki is notorious for high fiving his fans in more ways than one, staging pre-show meet and greets, taking thousands-strong family photos onstage, pulling hysterical fans on stage to get royally “caked” in the face. This unbridled theatricality is what sets Aoki apart from the regular bob-up-and-down-behind-a-laptop DJ routine, earning him some hardcore, uber-loyal fans, many of whom show up holding cardboard signs shouting “CAKE ME.”

Boasting sequin-covered costumes and enough volume to rival most major festivals, Aokify America kicked off its second date at NYC’s Pier 94 on Saturday 2 November. Energy powerhouse Waka Flocka Flame whipped the crowds into a sweat-drenched mosh early in the game, while beatsmaster Borgore spun huge club bangers alongside his two scantily-clad pole dancers. Possibly the biggest and most surprising shrug of the tour is the addition of superstar Pharrell Williams. The Grammy-award winning producer and singer/songwriter casually graced the stage with his trademark tilted hat and a microphone, singing along to a shadowy DJ pressing play on Pharrell’s greatest hits, from Snoop Dogg’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, to Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and this year’s chart-topper, Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’. Verging dangerously on self-indulgent karaoke, the highly charismatic Williams often let his radio favorites boom through the Pier without singing a note (the rare privilege of a performing producer).

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Taking over the gargantuan riverside property of Pier 94, Aoki’s second New York City show joined the likes of Calvin Harris, R3hab and Krewella for the epic, three-day Pier of Fear lineup. Originally given the green light for a five-day program of the world’s top DJs, New York’s Pier of Fear program was cut short to three days after the City of New York feared for another Electric Zoo tragedy. The third day of the massive electronic dance music festival on Randalls Island over Labor Day was canceled after two early-twenties festivalgoers overdosed on a fatal amount of MDMA. Foreseeing another in the works, the council took back two permits, cancelling the Pacha-presented Laidback Luke night entirely.

It’s easy to see why the City of New York wanted to keep a tight leash on the Pier of Fear/Aokify America event – throw thousands of 18-year-old, Halloweed-costumed, hyped-up EDM fans in a giant pier warehouse filled with oversized spider puppets and gratuitous lasers, you’re going to attract fun-quashing council regulation. Taking the final night of the Pear of Fear party marathon, the Aokify America show was relatively well-behaved, with only a few scattered individuals losing their indoor sunglasses or needing a quick security hand out of the sweaty moshpit.

Somewhat random but inevitably fun-filled, the Aokify America tour achieves its party house goals with gusto, baiting hands-in-the-air fans with big name drops and wanton confetti blasts. Fitting 6,000 keen partygoers into the chaotic hall of Pier 94, Aoki’s empire is slightly misbranded but somehow clearly working, finding an unlikely symbiotic relationship between EDM and hip hop and delivering a cake in the face to haters.

AOKIFY AMERICA TOUR DATES

For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.

11/05 Columbus, OH @ LC Indoor Pavilion

11/06 Detroit, MI @ The Fillmore

11/07 St Louis, MO @ The Pageant

11/08 Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Ballroom

11/09 Minneapolis, MN @ Epic Event Center

11/09 Las Vegas, NV @ Hakkasan

11/10 Saskatoon, Canada @ Tequila Nightclub

11/11 Winnipeg, Canada @ Garrick Center

11/12 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theater

11/13 Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex

11/15 Los Angeles, CA @ Shrine Expo Hall

11/16 San Francisco, CA @ Bill Graham

11/19 Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater

11/20 Seattle, WA @ Paramount Theater

11/21 Vernon, Canada @ Kal Tire Place

11/22 Edmonton, Canada @ EXPO Center

11/23 Vancouver, Canada @ Thunderbird Arena

11/24 Las Vegas, NV @ Hakkasan

11/27 Miami Beach, FL @ Liv

For tickets, visit Ticketmaster.

Stay tuned for an exclusive interview between The Untitled Magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Indira Cesarine and Andrew Moore, AKA Kryoman, responsible for Steve Aoki’s unforgettable onstage electronic robots. 

Coverage and photographs by The Untitled Magazine.

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