by Sam Mendez
Not settling for entertaining people with just his popular songs and mixing skills, Excision indulged the crowd with his high-powered sound system and his unique live production (his signature stage “X-Vision”). Last night’s sold out show at House of Blues got a great reception and definitely showed a DJ show can be as entertaining as a live band performance. Most people there had seen Excision’s show last year at House of Blues and were ready for round 2, and there were also a surprising amount of kids there with their parents; seems like a strange place for 12-year olds and an even stranger place for people in their 40s to be. But regardless of age, crowd members were anxious to see how Excision would top his performance last year; and with such a memorable show, one would wonder if Excision could top that show.
Once a black sheet was lifted revealing Excision’s new humongous stage “The Executioner,” it was apparent that this would one-up last year’s show. Resembling a bunker that was the size of the House of Blues stage itself, Excision’s entire set had a whole new sensory experience to go along with the rumbling music he was spinning. Animations were projected onto the stage, and aside from your expected lasers, explosions and pretty lights, animations included aliens, menacing machines decorated with subwoofers and morphing robots (for legal purposes, NOT Transformers). Animations would sync up to the sounds of the songs playing, which made you want to keep your eyes glued to the stage the entire time instead of dance with the scantily-clad raver girls. The one thorn in the rose was that this indicates that this was a pre-planned set, which some people would have an issue with. But it could be seen like dance choreography: if the set, in the exact sequence that it’s in, is enjoyable, who cares if it was planned in advance? It doesn’t change the fact that it was quality. At the end of it all, the projection began to glitch (on purpose), and a quick glimpse of Grumpy Cat was seen before it turned off. Excision told everyone he’d see them next year, which can only make you wonder once again how he’ll manage to top this. Maybe he’ll have an actual transforming raptor robot next year. Who knows?
The music aspect of the show fared just as strongly as the visual aspect. Excision’s sets are known for never sticking to one BPM; he’ll jump from a rock-steady 140 BPM to a 128 BPM dance groove to a fast-paced 87 BPM drumstep pace in a matter of five minutes. But if there’s one common theme in his sets, it’s that most of his song choices have grungy bass and harsh, mechanical-sounding synths. And with a custom sound system that’s over 100,000 watts of power, it makes those strong-sounding songs even more intense. At the beginning, it didn’t feel like the sound system was reaching a higher level than the house sound system, but about 45 minutes in, the music was at full-force. Songs like “Raise Your Fist,” “Wasteland,” “X-Rated” and “Vindicate” had basslines that were amplified so loud, it felt like your teeth were going to shake loose from your gums. He also played some trap music, which felt a little shoehorned, but that’s probably because it was shoehorned because that’s what the people want today. He played Bro Safari’s “Freak,” which, while having a nice, juicy bassline and a synchronized animation to go along with, didn’t feel like it belonged in Excision’s set of signature, filthy-sounding dubstep. He also played the infamous “Harlem Shake,” which everyone expects to be played out, but when the beat dropped, everyone went wild. Excision played for around 90 minutes, leaving those who were wearing earplugs satisfied, and those who weren’t wearing earplugs hearing-impaired (and for those of the latter that are thinking about suing Excision for that: they sold earplugs at the merch table for $2. If you thought $2 was too much to protect you from Excision’s onslaught of music, you’re insane.)
Opening for the night was Vaski, one of Excision’s tried and true producers on his label Rottun Records. His live production was the most meager of the night, with just his logo projected onto the backdrop, but that didn’t stop him from delivering a solid opening set, consisting mostly of his songs like “Insane,” “Hurricane,” “Lost My Mind,” “Zombie Apocalypse,” and staying within the confines of 140-142 BPM. He even dropped a new track of his, “Baddest Behavior,” which he conveniently commented that it was going on sale tomorrow. His chemistry with the crowd was good, speaking out to the crowd on the mic often and having them clap to numerous songs (though the crowd had trouble clapping on beat, but it’s all in good fun). He ended his set with his “old faithful” remix of “Sandstorm” (if you thought everyone was tired of “Harlem Shake,” guess how people feel about this song), which also turned into a surprise trap remode at the end. At the end, he came out into the crowd, handing out logo stickers and autographing tickets/clothing/body parts.
Paper Diamond took the stage after Vaski, and you could tell things were starting to build up higher in anticipation for the main act. Paper Diamond’s live production was more elaborate than Vaski’s, and the music was loud to the point where you could feel the bass rumbling beneath your feet. He would be the DJ to satisfy the crowd’s fix for trap music, playing popular hits like Dillon Francis’ trap VIP of “Bootleg Fireworks,” Diplo and GrandTheft’s trap remix of Calvin Harris’ “Sweet Nothing,” and DJ Carnage and Luminox’s festival trap remix of Sandro Silvio & Quintino’s “Epic.” But while his song choices were well-received, his DJ skills were inadequate. Playing a set that flipped back-and-forth between dubstep and trap, most of his transitions were very sloppy and primitive; only keeping with the beat, and not paying much regard to volume or harmonic matching. Let this be a lesson: even when you’re equipped with two laptops, a mixer, and an iPad (which is what he had), that still won’t be enough to make you a formidable DJ. That certainly didn’t ruin the crowd’s overall feelings towards him, but perhaps that was because his song choices were safe ones that he knew would go down well.