On Nov. 8, I had the pleasure of witnessing the materialization of the “Ghostboy” himself.
Robotaki (Preston Chin) has spent the better part of this season touring across the US and Canada performing “The Experiment–Live” and charming fans with his infectiously groovy beats and feel-good tunes. If you checked out my previous article on his single “Brooklyn ‘95”, you all know I’m a big fan of the musician/producer. The last leg of his journey would bring him to the City of Angels, where I would inevitably buy tickets for it and drag someone along for the ride.
With bae in tow, we trooped to the Teragram Ballroom a little after doors opened. As people slowly started trickling in, I had the opportunity to scope out my surroundings and take some mental notes to write in this Yelp-like portion of my review. Upon stepping foot in the venue, I was pleased with the intimacy of the space and clear visibility of the stage from nearly all angles of the room (which is important for a vertically challenged individual like myself). Although the Teragram is on the smaller side, it gave everyone ample room to dance to their heart’s content without feeling packed together like sardines. Also worth mentioning is the abundance of stalls in the restroom and the free water dispensers on the bar counter that were regularly replenished for dehydrated guests. Although seemingly irrelevant, these small offerings honestly made the experience of watching a show much more enjoyable. (You all know waiting in ridiculously long lines to pee or paying $4 for a bottle of water can be a bit of a downer).
The night kicked off with Nelle, a relatively new DJ making her rounds on the EDM circuit. Although she may not have years of experience (only being 20 herself), she exuded confidence and comfortably interacted with the crowd. It was unclear whether she had played any original songs (for example, I noticed hits like “In Flames” by Dabin and “Light” by San Holo in the middle of her set), but she was skilled at selecting bangers and crafting remixes to excite the audience. At one point, a group of hype bois started to really rock out to her carefully curated songs. The throng of mostly 20-somethings that were inhabiting the dance floor were noticeably more pumped than 30 minutes prior, which was a positive sign that everything was off to a good start.
X&G switched up the mood from “night out raving with my ABG’s” to “underground industrial warehouse”–in a good way! Think Zoolander: X&G’s heavier dubstep and trap-influenced mixes sounded like they could possibly soundtrack one of fashion mogul Mugatu’s scenes. It added nice variety to the evening and gave members of the audience time to catch their breath. After all, there were still two performances left.
The final opener was AOBeats (Andrew Okamura), the only other headliner on the roster, aside from Robotaki, that I was familiar with. Known for his collaborations with various artists in the industry (e.g., Manila Killa, Robokid, and SATICA, to name a few), as well as being one of the co-founders of the Moving Castle collective, Okamura produces addictive beats that inspired the wanna-be dancer in me to bust out some moves. His music sounded way better live than blasting it from laptop speakers. After his set, my energy levels spiked and I was ready for the main event.
From the moment Robotaki made his entrance, the entire atmosphere changed. His act was preceded by a sound sample of the Apollo moon landing, which established a future-esque, space-age vibe. He also utilized the stage lights in conjunction with his production, bathing the audience in hues of primary colors and adding to the visual appeal of his performance. It was evident that Robotaki had put a lot of thought into how he would showcase his work, and his creativity and attention to detail were quite impressive. At one point during the night, I even thought to myself, “Am I at the same event?”–the sound quality was suddenly better, both in clarity and in volume. It was almost as if someone had decided to turn on all the speakers in the room (not just the front ones) and encompass the entire area in walls of sound. I could literally feel my heart thumping to the bass, which was not the case earlier in the evening.
What set Robotaki’s act apart from other EDM events I have attended in the past was his inclusion of various instruments that he played himself. From blowing airy melodies on the flute, to banging beats on drum pads and striking chords on the keyboard, Robotaki truly demonstrated his talents as a multifaceted artist. He’s not one to stand still and press play. When he wasn’t playing a classical instrument on-stage, he continued to impress by adding unique twists to some songs off of his Science EP. For example, one of my favorite laid-back tracks on the EP, “Together We’re Screwed”, was given a dance-y, upbeat makeover. It was a beat flip that completely shifted the mood of the song, which I thought was definitely more appropriate given the context of the event.
Another one of the highlights of the night was his mashup-remix of “Shelter” by Porter Robinson and Madeon (mixed with Phoenix’s “Lisztomania”, along with other tracks I did not catch). Even though “Shelter” wasn’t his own song, there was a good reason why it was included in his set. As one of the openers for their Shelter tour back in 2016, Robotaki expressed his gratitude for the duo’s camaraderie and cited them as some of his inspirations for his own musical endeavors. In fact, DJs and producers within the EDM scene seem to have a sort of unspoken brotherhood, forming an extremely tight-knit community. During the show, I may have even sighted Yetep, another rising producer, in the middle of the crowd. (If not, then my eyes may have deceived me.) Fellow DJ Manila Killa even specifically tweeted about the show, wishing that he could have been there to support Robotaki and AOBeats in person. It was heartwarming to see artists supporting one another so openly, and it exemplified the familial bonds within the EDM community.
This, along with his genuine connection to the crowd and evident appreciation for his supporters, gave me the impression that Robotaki was a chill, down-to earth fellow despite being a juggernaut in the EDM scene. Of course, Robotaki could not conclude the show without playing “Ghostboy”, the funky electropop single that really skyrocketed his career. And with that, “The Experiment” ended on a high note.
Rating: 10/10, would recommend!