Dancing the night away, Kaytranada style

By Karissa Schaefer, Living Arts Editor

A disco ball, blinding colorful lights, and a non-stop flow of dancing and R&B represent the perfect concoction for DJ Kaytranada’s Dec. 9 set at Boston’s House of Blues. 

This concert was my first in the electronic dance music scene, and if you know anything about me—a longtime EDM enthusiast—this probably comes as a shock. However, it was well worth the wait, especially considering I purchased tickets on a whim with my Spotify presale link back in August. Given the many months I had to prepare, I probably should’ve thought to bring my inhaler with the amount of dancing I did that night. 

Doors opened at 7 p.m., with DJ Sángo as the show’s opener. The artist had a plethora of music genres mixed into his set, pulling inspiration from hip hop, soul, straightforward dance music, and more. He even played an unreleased song––which now lives on his SoundCloud––leading the crowd into an uproar. 

On his website, the music producer describes his songs and remixes as “regular, real beats,” and that’s exactly what they were. Sángo’s style is lowkey and chill, yet I still found myself bopping my head, tapping my foot, and doing whatever other movement I could muster to dance on beat.

The Michigan native was a soft opener to the headlining act that transitioned nicely into the more hard-hitting techno beats Kaytranada has to offer. I thought I was going all out to Sángo’s R&B classics and originals that captivated the crowd. Boy, was I wrong. 

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From the second Kaytranada took the stage, I was entranced. Fog filled the stage and the bright lights that beamed from behind hid him made only his silhouette recognizable against the changing TV screen. Both DJs used the screen as a transitioning visual throughout their respective sets. In the off moments and slow build ups, I was fully mesmerized by the fun, colorful graphics with phrases like “Be patient,” Kaytranada’s name, and creative short videos. In a tight setting with loud music, this was the perfect way to keep everyone engaged.

Typically, from my past experiences with opening acts, DJs are too busy shredding their equipment to be focused on a whole “song and dance” performance. This is usually fine by me when the music speaks for itself and I’m way too busy dancing. But at this show, everyone could see all the visual details and dedication the artists put in to make every part of the concert interactive. From the coordinated lights to the synched up videos, the music’s timing was everything. 

There was one point during one of Kaytranada’s many perfected beat drops when white strobe lights started going off. It felt like I just stepped into a rave in another dimension, and I fully embraced it. My roommate said I looked like I belonged in a coming-of-age film as the main character. Maybe it was the disco-esque 70s shirt I was wearing, or my occasional glances to the disco ball hanging above, but I felt like I was dancing in a movie. 

My roommate and I intended to hang towards the back of the crowd, so we would purposely have room to dance our hearts out. Nevertheless, the spread out crowd rushed from behind once Kaytranada was up, constricting our space. Even so, this didn’t stop me. My arms flailed, fist bumping like I was in a club with the cast of Jersey Shore. I got so into the music that I closed my eyes, causing me to step on other people’s feet from time to time. I’d say mistakes were made, but I honestly don’t regret a thing. I was quite literally having the time of my life. 

Watching other members of the crowd was just as entertaining. Someone to the left of me was going ham on the dance floor, even more than me (and I didn’t think that was possible). When a group of rowdy frat bros squeezed through in between us, my roommate and I made a pact with the girls behind us to not let another man infiltrate our already tight-knit space. In an effort to get the guys to move, and showing our dedication to our pact, someone held up their phone with the text “Anybody LGBTQ+?” displayed to the crowd, which gave us a good laugh. Luckily, the frat bros migrated away towards the center. Ah, there’s something so meaningful about networking at a concert with fellow fans. 

The difference between DJs and regular singers performing is the blending between songs. Rather, Kaytranada didn’t hesitate for an hour and a half straight. Though I can pick out individual songs from the set, it felt more like one giant extended version of all his hits. For a concert goer who doesn’t like to stop moving, this was more than ideal for me.

I have almost the entirety of Kaytranada’s discography in my liked songs and playlists, and nearly every one of my favorites were played. From Kaytranada’s remix of Rihanna’s “Kiss It Better,” to “YOU’RE THE ONE” with singer Syd, to the crowd’s favorite “10%,”—there wasn’t a single song that I didn’t immediately perk up and vibe to. 

When The Internet’s “Girl” started playing, my roommate and I locked eyes and sang every word at the top of our lungs. We reminisced on listening to their whole discography last spring semester. 

My personal favorite song of his is “CHANCES,” and you bet that once it started playing, I started busting down. It brought me back to blasting the song in my car with the wind in my hair, singing and dancing as much as possible in a 2005 Honda Civic. It’s the perfect summer song to me, but what’s the harm in listening to it in the middle of December?

If there’s a song out there or an artist you love, chances are that Kaytranada has worked with them or created a remix of it. Any work of his deserves all the attention it receives and then some. The DJ knows how to entertain a crowd and keep everyone moving. 

From his Boston performance alone, Kaytranada is an artist everyone should listen to and find their own favorite song to dance their heart out to. If you have a chance to see Kaytranada near you, do it. You won’t regret it.