If Steve Aoki doesn't like his job, then he can add actor to an already long list of accomplishments. The crowd waiting for him to walk onstage had already danced through two sets in a packed Roseland on Wednesday (the air in the Roseland Theatre at a show of this kind can be optimistically be described as "tropical"). Yet the moment he emerged, the crowed roared to life again, and Aoki regarded the sweaty crowd with what appeared to be a genuinely delighted expression. With a spring in his step and a broad smile on his face, he made his way to his platform of lights.
There are so many words available to describe a show, that calling Aoki's set "fun" almost seems to oversimplify it. But the energy of the crowd, and the almost spontaneous feel of the performance was, undeniably, fun.
It's a wonder that Aoki has enough energy to single-handedly whip a crowd of hot, exhausted people into a riot of bouncing enthusiasm. His successful record label, clothing line, extensive work as a producer, and packed touring scedule would drive a lesser man into the ground. The side of Aoki that is responsible for the driving force behind Dim Mak records was not in evidence at last night's show. It's hard to imagine a man who happily threw cakes and several buckets of Voodoo Doughnuts at his crowd doing anything more serious than, well, throwing baked goods at people. But his success would suggest otherwise.
The lighter, more complex side of Aoki's music provided a stark contrast to the heavily bass driven Datsik, who played before him. Aoki's songs lack the "drop" that's so heavily emphasized in most of today's rave-style music. Rather his set flowed smoothly from one tense beat to another. There is a subtlety to Aoki's music that is refreshing. His music doesn't consist soley of beats and melodies. While still highly danceable and rhythmic, his music is also a treat to listen to if for no other reason than the many layers hide some truly interesting samples.
It's not just the music that makes a performance by Steve Aoki so enjoyable. Aoki quite literally throws himself into entertaining a crowd. At one point during Wednesday's performance, he launched himself from the second floor balcony into an inflatable raft supported by the audience below. He also poured a variety of fruit juices onto the crowd (who didn't seem to mind being showered with Oceanbreeze in the least). It's really not hard to imagine Aoki running through the aisles of a local supermarket and selecting at random things to fling into the audience—he probably did that with the same smile he had onstage.
All in all, Steve Aoki is a force in and of himself. Injecting a sense of mischief and enthusiasm into a sardine can of a venue is no small task. Aoki is good at what he does, and his own clear enjoyment of it makes it all the better for those who attend his shows.