Tuesday, May 21, 2013

LIVE FROM NEW YORK: KTU-phoria with Nikki Williams, Icona Pop & Krewella

Last Thursday I caught up with my Live KPOP Event partner in crime drowningn00b (a frequent contributor to our mutual bud McRoth over at McRoth's Residence) when I acted as his +1 to a "Countdown to KTU-Phoria" radio gig hosted by local station WKTU. Funnily enough, the event was co-hosted by DJ Paul "Cubby" Byrant, who I partied with at the 98 Degrees in-store event with the week before. The radio gig featured live DJ-ing by Disco Fries, and an incredible dance lineup that included Nikki Williams, Sweden's own Icona Pop(!!!!) and EDM ravers Krewella and was held at Stage 48 -- a deceivingly awesome two-floor club venue in Hell's Kitchen that looks like a industrial warehouse from the outside.

After finding ourselves flush against the staging as we waited for the festivities to start, Cubby walked on stage and began handing out Meet & Greet passes to anyone lucky enough to grab them. This is where it pays to have a tall concert buddy, seeing as I'm forever vertically challenged -- we scored two passes to meet Icona Pop prior to the concert's start! I now forever have this epic photograph to keep for my scrapbook. Try and tell me you aren't jealous. I dare you. (Guess what? I. Don't. Care.)

Dreams Come True! Aino, Melismatic & Caroline. Can I be their third member now?
After hanging with Aino (left) and Caroline (right) (BTW - Aino told me she loved my dress and I geeked the hell out. I love it!), we raced back to get a good position for the rest of the show, only to find the club packed to the gills. KTU-phoria is clearly a gig for the raving masses -- there were so many people dressed in neon and general day-glo attire to match the glowsticks that were being passed around. We managed to find spots on the top floor, basically above the stage itself, after deciding it wouldn't be worth it to try for our previous standing positions at center stage.

South African Nikki Williams, who is currently promoting her dance single "Glowing" but is best known for co-penning Demi Lovato's current hit "Heart Attack", took the stage first alongside an epic electric violinist and a troupe of very expressive dancers in black wet-look legging with a white stripe on the sides and a t-shirt that read "I (Heart) The DJ". Midway through her set, she ditched her heels and rocked it barefoot. She performed four songs, including her hype single "Kill, F*ck, Marry" (complete with bouquets for all of her dancers) and the gorgeous ballad "Run Run Run" before closing with "Glowing". (But not before she randomly busted out the "Harlem Shake" with her dancers.) Her voice is incredibly striking and will inevitably be compared to Ms. Lovato herself.

"Glowing", while a fun little dance ditty, certainly doesn't do Ms. Williams and her big pipes justice. It's no audio trick -- this girl can really sang. I can't wait to hear a studio version of "Run Run Run".

Shortly thereafter, two large tables with heaps of synthesizers, keyboards, laptops and microphones were set up for my new BFFs in Icona Pop. They jumped on stage in their trademark shades of black and gray to their hype tune "Manners". Much of their American Iconic EP was played live, including "Good For You" and "Ready For The Weekend", along with Swede single "We Got The World".

They warmed the crowd up considerably, constantly interacting with the audience. As "I Love It" was cued up (and drowningn00b and I started to lose our minds), a light-up robot with a fog gun in each hand sauntered on to stage, bathing each Icona Pop and the crowd with smoke.

Song of the summer? Hell to the yeah. I Love It!

After a brief intermission with the dudes from Disco Fries, EDM trio Krewella came on stage to a raucous and crazy reception. We may have been there for Icona Pop but we left as fans of Krewella -- it was hard not too. The excitement was palpable. I'm not the biggest connoisseur of this EDM trend, so if you're not either, trust me when I say -- this type of music is best experienced live. Krewella's set was loud, balls to the wall and the bass drops out it's hard not to dance.

Krewella (pronounced like Cruella, get it?) is from Chicago and made up of three DJs -- sisters Jahan and Yasmine, and Rain Man -- and their style of flow is similar to the rise of Skrillex with elements of dupsteppy and lots of fuzzy synth with the sisters alternating lead vocal. In fact, the group has remixed Skrillex's "Summit" with Ellie Goulding and performed it live that night, along with nods to a handful of dance music classics like Alice DeeJay's "Better Off Alone" (everyone was singing along -- what's up early 00's high school grads like moi!). Singles "Killin' It" and "Come & Get It" were supreme highlights and the crowd was literally high of their energy. At one point, their entire sound system blew out, surprising everyone including Krewella themselves. (They were back to business in a few short minutes.)

Their biggest hit, "Alive", is a bonafide smash at local station KTU, hence their crazed crowd reaction -- it's already one of the most spun songs of 2013 for the dance-focused station. Krewella have released two EPs on Columbia, with a full set due for "summer" 2013. Like Icona Pop, they catered to the crowd really well, constantly interacting with fans. At one point, a guy jumped up on stage with them and Jahan (aka the sister with the blonde ombre) slung her arm around him and kept dancing/singing with him until security hastily gave him the ol' Apollo heave-ho.

Overall, I had an utter blast. Not only did I get to meet my fave Swedish group of the moment, I danced my ass off (my feet hurt for the following two days) and screamed/sung myself hoarse (again, for the next two days). Word to the wise to anyone going to an EDM-flavored party: wear comfortable (flat) shoes. My poor toes speak to experience. (Even still, I. Don't Care. I Love It!) My many thanks once again and as always to my love, Xtian, for the invite! Can't wait for the next party, hun!

For more on Nikki Williams, Icona Pop and Krewella, you can follow them on the Twitters via: @NikkiWilliams, @IconaPop, and @Krewella, respectively.

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