All around the country, men and women in their early 20s are attempting to find themselves. Some are in college trying to figure out careers and lifestyle preferences, some are working full time already to support growing families. One thing that they all have in common, confusion and uncertainty. While there has been plenty of confusion and uncertainty throughout the life of 23-year-old super producer/DJ Kaytranada, one things for sure, he’s no ordinary 23-year-old. The Canadian born artist has already sold out shows across Europe and America, worked with of the moment favorites Vic Mensa and Anderson .Paak and released his debut album to great acclaim from critics and fans alike. While getting ready to cover his San Diego show, I conducted a quick google search of some of his interviews to provide insight to the man behind some of my favorite electronic music right now. The one that caught my eye was a wonderful piece by The FADER in which they conducted an interview with Kay and delved into his background and personal life. The article showed, while touring the world and grabbing the electronic world by it’s throat may be a dream, 23 is still 23 and uncertainty and confusion has no omissions. Taking the insight that I received from my research, I attended Kaytranada’s 99.9% Tour during it’s stop in San Diego on May 24th with an open mind and a different perspective.
Arriving to the beautiful North Park Observatory venue early, I was fortunate enough to catch openers River Tiber and Lou Phelps, both fellow Canadians. River Tiber was the first to come out, setting the tone for the night with somber themed music that sounded straight out of the XO team vault. I was instantly impressed by the the fact that he was alone and that he was playing the guitar, singing, and mixing at the same time. Pure artistry is lost and under appreciated a lot nowadays but it was definitely noticed this night. The crowd reacted very well to the North native, getting particularly excited for his first performance of his conveniently titled slow jam, “West” which he told the crowd he had written in the midst of his first trip to California. Next to open up was Montreal native Lou Phelps, DJ/Rapper. Phelps came out and instantly started hyping the crowd up by mixing mainstream favorites; “Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1” by Kanye West and “Alright” by Kendrick Lamar, as well as many other crowd pleasers. Phelps played an extended DJ set, slyly mixing in his own track followed by him jumping in on the mic to perform his own vocals in what was one of the more lit parts of the night, period. Impressed by his lyrical ability as well as his mixing skills, a quick google search showed that Lou Phelps is the younger brother of Kaytranada, giving the night even more context. Phelps closed his set out with an applause that would’ve made an unknowing fan believe he was the main attraction, but the night was just getting started.
Once Lou Phelps live DJ set ended, I turned around to view how the crowd was starting to shape up. While in no way was it empty during the opening sets, it seemed as if once Kay was getting ready to come out, the whole venue changed. The lights were a little brighter, the sonics were a litter sharper, the vibes were a lot stronger, and the crowd was significantly bigger. What looked like a gathering of local hipsters and curious Hip-Hop heads during the opening sets, the venue had transformed magnificently into a packed house that resembled something similar to a house show in Las Vegas. There were people screaming, there were people shuffling, there were people shouting, and this was all while he was setting up his equipment. Being under the impression that Kaytranada was an “unknown” or an “unsung” talent, I was immediately taken back by the amount of excitement for this man’s upcoming set.
— AshariX (@A20H) May 25, 2016
Kicking the night off with a personal as well as crowd favorite off his 99.9% album, “Track Uno”, Kaytranada instantly had the crowd in a trance from the jump. From that moment on, he dove into a menacing arsenal of hit after hit, seamlessly mixing transitions from track to track. Dishing out songs that he produced for others, as well as personal mixes, the most impressive part about Kaytranada’s live DJ set was that he mixed everything on the fly. Hiding in the dark shadows, and keeping the lights on the crowd as opposed to himself, you could faintly see him dancing and mixing on his board, moving his hands in motion like a mad scientist with a goal to rule the world. Only this world was a crowd full of sweaty college hipsters and 20 somethings who were tripping off drugs, vibes, and beats. And he had them right where he wanted them. Aiding to the drug infused atmosphere, Kay had trippy images circulating behind him on a screen that at times would match the mix he was doing – Janet Jackson home videos during his remix of her smash “If” – but mostly keeping wavy images of chronic leaves, sun rays, body building chicks, and moving images of his album cover.
Playing an extended hour plus set, Kaytranada had the crowd eating out of the palms of his hands throughout the whole time. One of the more rambunctious scenes of the night was when he dropped an exclusive remix of Rihanna‘s “Kiss it Better” which sent the crowd into a complete frenzy. Taking her racy vocals and matching them to a more uptempo, and easier to groove to beat, Kaytranada was completely clowning at this point. He had already stole the show and proven enough with crazy drops into crowd favorites “Together“, “One Too Many“, and “Glowed Up” but this flex of a remix solidified his presence as an artist to be reckoned with. After unleashing his repertoire on the willing crowd, Kaytranada fittingly closed the night with the track that pushed him into the mainstream consciousness of electronic fans, his remix of Jackson’s “If” which had everybody in attendance singing the lyrics in unison to the internationally known Jackson hit, vibing together as one.
— AshariX (@A20H) May 25, 2016
In all, I was pleasantly surprised by Kaytranada’s set. Not only was it my first time seeing him live, it was my first time going to a concert where a DJ was the headliner and honestly, I was unsure what to expect. Ditching the “push play” style that I had believed most DJ’s run their sets by (and a lot of them do let’s not front), Kaytranada completely flipped the script and showed an artistry that is unparalleled. To see more videos and exclusive coverage of the event, check out our Snapchat (respectmag). Also, keep up with Kaytranada on Twitter (@Kaytranada) and give a listen to his debut album 99.9% which is on Apple Music and every other music retailer. Additionally, check out the tour dates below to catch a glimpse of Kaytranada’s groovy show in a city near you.
— AshariX (@A20H) May 25, 2016
05-25 Los Angeles, CA – The Fonda Theatre
05-26 Orange County, CA – The Observatory
05-27 San Francisco, CA – Mezzanine
05-28 Seattle, WA – Showbox
05-29 Portland, OR – Euphoria
05-31 Denver, CO – Gothic Theatre
06-01 New York, NY – Highline Ballroom
06-03 Washington, DC – 9:30 Club
06-04 Philadelphia, PA – The Roots Picnic
06-11 Manchester, England – Parklife Festival
06-12 Brighton, England – Wild Life Festival
06-18 Barcelona, Spain – Sónar Festival
07-03 Vancouver, British Columbia – FVDED
07-23 New York, NY – Panorama Festival
07-29 Montreal, Quebec – Osheaga Festival
08-13 Marseille, France – Positiv Festival
08-18 Hasselt, Belgium – Pukkelpop
08-20 St. Poelten, Austria – Frequency Festival
08-21 Biddinghuizen, Netherlands – Lowlands
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