EDM DJ Steve Aoki is bringing his monstrous “Kolony” tour to Tucson on Wednesday, March 7, less than five months after he headlined the third annual Dusk Music Festival here last October.
If he had his way, he’d be in Arizona every five or six months.
“Arizona has a warm spot in my heart, not just Tucson but all of Arizona,” the electro house DJ said from a concert stop in Massachusetts last month. “I’ve been playing Arizona for years, and it’s always one of those places where there is a real foundation with electronic music there. There’s a real educated following that knows about the music, that really built the culture there. Whenever I go there I have a high expectation, honestly, of the crowd, of what the fans know.”
Aoki’s “Kolony” tour is not his typical EDM show. It’s big, bold and loud, and, yes, it just could include Aoki’s signature cake — or the tossing thereof. But it also follows a storyline, an arc brought to life through a detailed visual concept that includes lighting effects and a stage so elaborate that it takes hours to set up. It’s packed into a trio of 18-wheelers, and the stage crew and artists travel in four tour buses.
“This is by far the most complicated stage production I have ever had,” said Aoki, 40, an EDM trailblazer who got his start in the mid-1990s. “We spent a long time building this one up. The stage actually moves, which is really interesting. The show evolves and moves; it’s not a fixed stage.”
“It’s a labor of love. I do shows because I get paid really well. I’m doing this tour because I just want to present ‘Kolony’ in this fashion,” he added. “This is my way of showing my art.”
“Kolony” is Aoki’s 2017 album that brings hip-hop/rap deeply into his world of electronica and house. He’s partnered with leading rappers including 2Chainz, Lil Uzi Vert, Gucci Mane, T-Pain, The Kid and ILoveMakonnen.
“The way I see ‘Kolony’ as well as the way I see Arizona, it’s all about the youth culture, and the youth culture is all about electronic music and hip hop,” he said. “And that’s what my album, that’s what this tour is all about, embracing youth culture and what they listen to.”
Aoki has tapped an exciting cast of young artists for the tour including the 20-year-old Brooklyn rapper Desiigner, Canadian DJ Grandtheft and Philadelphia rapper Bok Nero, who appears on the single “Kolony Anthem” with ILoveMakonnen.
“The lineup is sick. Desiigner is on fire and adding like a complete different element to the show,” he said of his supporting acts, which also includes several artists signed to Aoki’s Dim Mak record label. “I love supporting all the new, young talented artists that we have on the label. These are the shows I look forward to.”