Superstar DJ Keoki is arguably the most famous rave DJ in the world, and, save porn star-cum-celebrity DJ Traci Lords, the most ridiculed. Keoki was the first to emerge from the new breed of premillennial celebrity cults-of-personality to whom rave promoters must tithe $1,000 or more an hour just to get them to show up, look good and spin records.
Booked to spin a prime-time, mainstage slot this weekend at Swell/Basshead's annual electronica festival Musik, Keoki rose to fame in the '80s presiding over spin sessions at Manhattan's notorious nightspot the Limelight. When rave culture went supernova in the '90s, Keoki's candle had rockets at both ends. From there he became world famous, rocking huge parties all around Europe and the U.S., including a series of Groove Jet raves at 35,000 feet, where promoters leased 747s to carry planeloads of ravers from Miami to the islands, with Keoki the master of ceremonies.
Keoki's a favorite pinata for purists wielding the sellout stick, but he never promised to stay underground. His last mix album moved 250,000 units. His new recording, Inevitable Alien Nation, was due out this week.
Musik is sponsored by the Scottsdale rave record store and clothing boutique Swell. Asked why he booked Keoki, Swell co-owner Russ Ramirez said, "Because he's an awesome DJ, a friend of mine, he plays progressive music, and he was the biggest DJ we could get for a somewhat reasonable price."
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Keoki is a competent deejay, and a natural choice for rave virgins who need a class in Techno 101. To really get schooled, though, check out Chicago techno pioneer Mike Dearbourne, a child prodigy who started cranking out banging tracks when he was 15. Dearbourne's now 23, and primed to go global. Third on the mainstage bill is Kelly Reverb, a rising breakbeat producer and deejay making his first appearance in the Phoenix area. Bombshelter homeboys Z-Trip and Emile are scheduled to host the evening, and the roster of second-stage Valley-based talent is formidable, including R.C. Lair and Gary Menichello.
Musik's location will remain undisclosed until the day of the event. Ramirez says it's a new, 24,000-square-foot warehouse space, with sound by Shredder, and extras, including an old-school, '80s video game room, which could prove bigger than Keoki. After all, he's just the deejay.
Musik is scheduled for 8 p.m. Saturday, March 28, through 6 a.m. Tickets (all ages) are $23-$25 in advance, $28 at the door, available at Swell, 1444 North Scottsdale Road in Scottsdale. Call the day of the event for the location. 945-3898.