“Yeah, tonight I turn it up to 11 just to piss off the one neighbor that has moaned for over a decade to get this place closed,” tweeted superstar DJ and producer Kaskade before hitting the stage Saturday at the PNE Forum. The one neighbour he was referring to is Barry Sharbo, a curmudgeonly fella who lives across the street from the Forum, seems to monitor the noise from concerts there with a trusty decibel meter, and spearheaded the banning of EDM shows at the venue. Because of him, Kaskade’s Freaks of Nature Tour was to be the final dance-music blowout at the Forum. And, really, is there anything more fun than an eviction party?
Widely regarded as one of the top American DJs, Kaskade plays and produces big-room, singalong house music. It’s formulaic, it’s cheesy and, of course, it’s incredibly popular. In just the past few weeks he’s played the Staples Center in Los Angeles as well as the final set on the EDM stage at Lollapalooza. The massive crowds he attracts are made up of shirtless bros and their female counterparts, whose scant neon outfits are almost always complimented by hooker boots with Fun Fur appliqué.
The 41-year-old at the forefront of the Dance Dance Revolution opened with “Eyes” from his latest full-length Fire & Ice. Almost immediately, it was clear that the janitors at the Forum were going to be sweeping up a lot of Fun Fur at the end of the evening. Aside from the beer garden running out of Mike’s Hard Lemonade—which could have easily incited Woodstock ‘99–style mayhem at a bash like this—the only other disappointment was the rather mediocre visuals and lighting that couldn’t hold a glow stick to the setups Daft Punk, deamau5, and Skrillex have at their shows.
Kaskade jumped up and down, twiddled knobs on the mixer, and led the singalongs from his LED plinth, but he didn’t appear to be doing much else aside from, you know, pressing play. In fact, if you listen to previous sets he’s performed on the Freaks of Nature Tour, they’re all pretty much identical. On top of that, his performances largely consist of pre-made mash-ups of his own productions with other big dance tunes, which might be considered faking it by some.
But even if Kaskade is a button pusher, he is one of the highest order. He knows what his crowd wants and he gives it to them. It’s not like you overheard the guy who was upfront and fist-pumping with a crutch in each hand, non-stop for the entire show, bitching about any of this.
“You guys too high? You wanna go home?” Kaskade teased the crowd before beginning his encore with the euphoric “I Remember”, a track he co-produced with deadmau5. Though up against a ludicrous 11pm curfew, there was time for one more. Before pressing play, he got on the mike and yelled, “Make the most noise now so the neighbours can hear us” then gave the elated audience his mixmash of R3hab and Swany Tunes’ “Sending My Love”. As the thunderous anthem was playing and everyone sang and danced along, it wasn’t hard to imagine Sharbo in his home across the street with fingers in his ears, cursing Kaskade’s name to the heavens for blowing up his beloved decibel meter.
this article was originally published in the georgia straight in august 2012