Paul Oakenfold @Wild Knight|2/1/13
Even before veterans like Benny Benassi stepped foot into the EDM worlds, UK DJ Paul Oakenfold was merging the worlds of pop and electronic music. He's been at it for four decades. He might not be the first name EDM fans name-drop when discussing their favorite DJs, but last night at Wild Knight in Scottsdale he received a warm welcome.
Approaching 50, Oakenfold has an established style that blending melodic house and trance, and it's a sound that has caught on in the pop world, where Oakenfold has always kept one foot.
The night started off slowly, but the club began to fill up: Person by person, heel after heel. It wasn't just EDM paramours; there were people clearly just dipping their toes into the cultural scene.
Local DJ Tranzit and other local DJs warmed the crowd up, and people conversed and sucked down "wannabe Vegas-priced drinks." The crowd started to grow anxious, wondering when exactly the main act was going to take the stage. Tranzit finished up, leaving the stage vacant. Synthesizer, laptop, headphones and turntables awaited Oakenfold.
Finally on the approach of midnight, the feel in the air shifted. Oakenfold, took to the DJ booth. And as soon as his sounds boomed from the speakers, hands raised to the air, trying to capture his opening masterpiece with smart phones. It's was clear that he wasn't about to drop the kind of set he'll most likely bring to Coachella 2013 -- this was going to be more intimate.
Oakenfold opened with Armin van Buuren's track, "We Are Here To Make Some Noise." The pulsating beats hit the speakers with tremendous bass. Finally, music that most of the crowd seemed to respond well to. Some members of the crowd thought that it was an Oakenfold original. It wasn't of course, but dropping the EDM anthem was merely an example of how well Oakenfold reads his audience.
His headphones were ever so slightly tilted toward the front of his head; the brim right above is eyes as he queued up more music: "Cannonball" originally by Showtek, and his own remixes of "Sweet Dreams" by Eurythmics and Bruno Mars' smash hit, "Locked Out of Heaven." It was tracks like these that brought the crowd together. Some that live their life within the EDM culture may say that this was a sell-out move, but Oakenfold knows how to please a crowd, and the majority of attendees were there to hear him do exactly what he does best.
The energy never seemed to fray last night. Everyone seemed happy and had even told me that this was an awesome night. Hands hanging in the air, people jumping around (and into me), and those that just stood still, completely invested in Oakenfold's sound.
Oakenfold proved that he's got more than name-brand recognition. He knows how to a work a crowd in his sleep, and his influence on EDM culture is undeniable. Guess four decades in the business doesn't hurt.
Last Night: Paul Oakenfold at Wild Knight
The Crowd: Old and young. There was even a 60-year-old couple dancing around the venue like they owned the place. Dressed-up, nice shirts, and heels were worn by the majority of the crowd.
Personal Bias: Coming from someone who loves all different genres of music, but is definitely invested within the EDM culture, I can personally say that this show was not my favorite, or even near to what I think it could have possibly been. But not the only person in the crowd, and I have to give props to Oakenfold on the way his music was presented to the crowd. He made sure everyone danced and knew the music.
Overheard in the Crowd: "He's not getting older. Fuck age. Music is keeping him young." (Clearly in reference to Paul.)
Random Notebook Dump: A new rule should be enforced at Wild Knight: Girls may not enter if they don't know how to jump, dance, or walk in heels." Something's got to be done about these sprained ankles! (No, but really. It should be.)