After my photographer and I skipped the line to obtain our credentials (press perks), standing approximately 50 feet from one of the world's highest-paid and most known DJs, and locking in on the night's assignment it hit me I was about to cover my biggest event to date: Steve Aoki's Kolony tour's Philadelphia stop at the Fillmore.
Indeed, I'd come a long way from camping out in the venue at the end of Hoodie Allen's Philadelphia show at the Electric Factory to interview Kyle.
Spotted in a Carson Wentz Jersey, Aoki, 40 and from Miama, Florida, entertained approximately 75 fans at his meet and greet before doors opened at 7, as the rest of them, a diverse crowd of high school teens all the way up to late twenty somethings, waited to come in. Now inside the venue, four purple chandeliers hung from the ceiling, 21+ areas with abstract artwork occupied the sides, and perpetually changing strobe lights projected on the crowd who, now about 200 people, were ready to rage.
Aoki's a 2x Grammy-nominated international DJ and founder of Dim Mak Records. Since launching in '96, his label has helped launch the careers of The Chainsmokers, Bloc Party, The Bloody Beetroots and The Gossip, most notably.
As a DJ, Aoki averages over 250 tour dates per year, and he's collaborated with a slew of artists such as Snoop Dogg, Linkin Park, JJ Abrams, Migos and Louis Tomlinson, most notably. In fact, his debut album was nominated for the Best Electronic/Dance album Grammy while his follow ups Neon Future I & II featured his Gold certified single "Delirious" (feat. Kid Ink).
Outside of music, Aoki received a Grammy nomination in the Best Music Film category for his 2016 Netflix Original documentary “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, chronicling his relationship with his late father and founder of restaurant chain Benihana, Hiroaki Aoki.
Steve Aoki Presents Kolony, the album he's supporting on tour, debuted at #1 on the Electronic Album charts. The album most notably features Lil Yachty, Migos, 2 Chainz, Gucci Mane, and T Pain, as Aoki shift's to rap music. Also, $1 from each ticket sold on tour will be donated to the Aoki Foundation, a foundation that supports organizations in brain science and research areas.
Aoki's performances consist of champagne spraying, cake throwing, and confetti. The Steve Aoki experience is something you don't want to miss when it comes to your town. To buy tickets for the Kolony Tour, click here.
The night kicked off at approximately 7:45P.M. with Max Styler. According to the set times, Gazzo was supposed to start the show at 7, as the crowd filed in, but he never graced the stage. According to venue security, "something happened". Signed to Aoki and with just over 3,000 Twitter followers, Styler mixed legendary rapper The Notorious B.I.G, Rick Ross, and Rihanna, most notably, to the antsy crowd while bopping his head in Grey Nikes with green socks, a red Stvmp Gvng sweater, and grey headphones.
Green strobe lights accompanied his set.
"What's up, Philly; how y'all doing tonight," Silver said.
A diverse crowd, a white guy and carefree asian girls in all black danced around me.
"Who's ready for some new shit right," said Silver, attempting to liven up the dead crowd.
Now in one of the 21+ areas on the side of the venue, the crowd's more calm, as if the show was simply a normal night of drinking (or it would be awhile until Aoki's set began). Groups of gangs of kids would consistently file in up until Aoki's set, more often than not drunk. In fact, many of the drunk girls managed to find seats in the venue, albeit a guy's shoulders (it's a case-by-case basis if they knew the guys prior to the show).
An EDM show, the one thing that was known was if you were there you expected to get pushed. As a pair of older ladies drunk snapped and grinded on each other, the crowd increased to about 400 by the time Silver's set ended at about 8:30P.M after he thanked the crowd.
Swiftly swapping in and out, Rick Remedy's set was next.
"Yo philly, how are y'all feeling right now," Remedy said.
That was when the first "cake me" sign sighting occurred. The later it got the less clothed the women, a majority of which possessing visible tattoos, entering the venue were (think house party setting, so of course they walked to the bathroom together holding hands). The rest of the crowd, including a girl in a bra on the balcony, jumped with their hands going up and down to Remedy's mixing of Crime Mob, Good Music, Migos, and Post Malone.
At this point, the question was who wasn't drunk, as an Eagles chant ensued.
Bok Nero, with just over 1,000 Twitter followers, made his first appearance of the night during Remedy's set. Nero, in red pants and black tennis shoes, a white windbreaker-ish hoodie with a black hoodie underneath, and blue hair asked the crowd for a free Meek Mill chant before performing Mill's "Dreams and Nightmares".
"My name's Bok Nero, and I'm from Philly," Nero said, easing to the front of the stage. "Philly, make some motherfucking noise."
Remedy, with just over 12,000 Twitter followers, finished his set thanking the crowd with the venue now almost full.
Finally, the scent of marijuana hit the room.
"My name is Quix; Philly, what up," Quix said.
Quix mixed Kendrick Lamar and G-Eazy, most notably. The night of Snapchat selfies continued, as the venue filled up around 9:30P.M. Women's outfits juxtaposed from crop tops to those ready to walk on America's Next Top Model while some preferred to show off their cleavage and/or backsides (you know, girls that dress edgy, but swear they're saints). All preferred dirty vans or converse as footwear.
On the other side of the spectrum, men were dressed in a monkey costume, a banana costume, and as an eagle (this happened).
I thought the show would never end, it was 9:40P.M..
At one point, a guy asked the girls next to me if they had molly while my photographer said that a girl told him she had ecasty. Next, a black guy in black shades and a blue bandanna around his neck caught my attention walking in. He was ready to turn up, as he headed straight to the 21+ area.
Bok Nero reappeared right before Quix ended his set thanking the crowd.
An older white biker guy was going hard on the dance floor, as drunk make out sessions broke out. Based on perpetual eye contact, older white women wanted in on the sessions, but were faced with a dearth of options (Sorry, I suck).
Grand theft mixed the most recognizable artists such as Calvin Harris, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, Meek Mill, Eminem, Post Malone, Snoop Dogg, DMX, and Cardi B.
Indeed, Grand theft's crowd energy was the third best of the night behind Steve Aoki and Desiigner, respectively. Quix ended his set at approximately 11:05 with the stage going pitch-black. (Seriously, it's not over yet? Actually, the night had just started).
If the EDM phase's truly over, this crowd didn't know it.
At about 11:25P.M. in a white and black mint coat complimented with a silver chain and watch, a bedazzled belt with ironically sagging black jeans, and a blunt (Yes), Desiigner, who performed the shortest, got the crowd the most turned up until that point.
"Let's get this motherfucking show started," Desiigner said.
Desiigner directed the crowd to put their hands up, as he leaned over to hold hands with them. In addition, he said free Meek Mill, bashing two water bottles together Stone Cold style. After jumping into the crowd, Desiigner then directed the crowd to "get low" to the ground.
"When this record drop I promise you it's going to be beautiful," Desiigner said. (Spoiler alert: it was beautiful)
Desiigner riffled through his set, performing "Outlet", "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 2", and "Timmy Turner", as he stood on the barricade to let people record him on their Snapchat stories.
Another couple of girls are grinding on each other (girls are dancing on girls because it's hot, right?).
Desiigner ended his set blowing a kiss to the crowd, as the stage went pitch-black
As "Steve" chants persisted and Undertaker style gongs entered the room, at midnight Steve Aoki was center stage.
"My name is Steve Aoki; everybody fucking scream," Aoki said.
"I've got some new shit," Aoki said.
Leather sweatpants accompanying his Carson Wentz jersey until he gave it to a fan, a black Apple watch on his wrist, and arm tattoos revealed shirtless, Aoki was the sole DJ to walk to the front of the stage. In addition, he had a poised stage presence, smiling directly at a fan for an embrace they'll never forget. A homage to the Eagles' super bowl victory, confetti landed on the crowd.
"Put your hands up," said Aoki, as the crowd listened to his every command.
The crowd's all night binge drinking had them loose.
A DJ technician, Aoki rarely had his headphones on.
"How do you feel right now, Philly," Aoki said. "I want to see everyone turn up; let's get this going."
Aoki went back and fourth between Steve Aoki Presents Kolony and his early mixes, bringing Bok Nero and Desiigner out a final time, respectively, to perform "Kolony Anthem" and "Mic Drop". In addition, he performed "Lit" and "Without U".
"Make some noise for Doc Nero," Aoki said.
"Philly, make some noise for Desiigner," Aoki said.
With stage smoke going off every few minutes, Aoki, who didn't act 40, performed his all-spanish track "Azukita", smashing water bottles then spitting out the water Triple H style, as the people all the way up in the balcony were bouncing.
The couple next to me were dry humping on the barricade. (Yikes)
At this point, it was time for champagne spraying, as the crowd never lost momentum and for the duration of the approximately hour and a half set everyone was living their best life.
Amazingly, Aoki's stage design changed three times during his set.
"Welcome to the Kolony experience," Aoki said.
Finally, it was time for cake throwing. A man and a women, respectively, with "cake me, it's my birthday" signs both received what they requested.
In addition, six fans got to go on stage after Aoki said he "needed volunteers" for his next song.
Lastly, Aoki ended his set performing songs that got him to the level he's at, most notably my favorite mix, "Pursuit of Happiness", before ending his set at approximately 1:40A.M..
"Thank you so much, Philadelphia," Aoki said.
All in all, the Steve Aoki experience's experiencing the show through all of your senses. What you see and feel are part of the experience. It’s not just what you hear. It’s all your senses coming together in one grouped feeling, he said, and he showed Philadelphia at The Fillmore, February 11, 2018.