Paul Oakenfold & Liquid Todd Get Interstellar at Stereo Live

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Paul Oakenfold, Liquid Todd
Stereo Live
Friday, June 24, 2016

A huge influence on the global music scene, the godfather of trance music, and founder of Perfecto Records, Paul Oakenfold made his way back to town for a Friday-night date at Stereo Live.

The artist’s résumé runs deep, arguably touching every part of the modern entertainment industry. His work has spanned multiple decades and influenced the global music scene through festivals, radio, film, television, gaming and nightlife. Adding to the renowned status, he was most recently listed as one of the 25 pioneers of dance music by DJ Mag.

Oakenfold is not big on the gimmicky cake-throwing or spraying down a bunch of booty with champagne. There was little doubt Friday that the crowd was there strictly to see him. He delivered, and they soaked up every minute of it, dancing with their hands constantly in the air and moving to the droning bass beats.

Oakenfold's headlining set would not be considered one that was radio-friendly; any need for that was delivered to perfection earlier by DJ Liquid Todd. It was straight trance, no famous pop-song remixes once the legend took control of the decks.

One of Oakenfold’s greatest talents as a DJ is his ability to remix the works of the greatest composers of our time. Fans were treated to reworked versions of Hans Zimmer and John Carpenter's Interstellar and Halloween themes, respectively. This raised the question of someone of Oakenfold’s stature tailoring his club sets differently from the way he would for a larger and more diverse festival audience.

The crowd was not as large as initially expected. It was the first big night of Houston’s Pride celebration; between the official gathering, Eden, at Pearl Lounge and the resurrection of the infamous Rich’s, Houston's EDM fans were spread out across our vast metropolis. However, the people who chose to be at 6400 Richmond were a respectable number of devoted trance fanatics, to be sure. The venue was not completely sold out, leaving some space for one to dance without feeling too cramped. And as expected, fans were a little older than the groups that normally frequent the club, but that was expected given the range of Oakenfold’s work. Many more people were clothed in button-up dress shirts and slacks than glitter and furry boots.

Stereo Live's production was flawless as always. The music pumping through the speakers sounded crystal-clear as it vibrated the walls; the use of the video screen was likewise top-notch. The images flashing across the stage often matched the music or time period of its release, most noticeably as “Dread Rock” flowed from the speakers. The song originally featured on the Matrix Reloaded soundtrack was here accompanied by the hex-green computer code cascading down from the top of the stage. This happened at the end of the night and produced brief thoughts of Neo and Trinity appearing from nowhere onstage to protect the crowd from Agent Smith’s countless minions.

A couple of track transitions could have been a touch cleaner, but the fans quickly forgave such minor mistakes. Otherwise, this was one of the best shows of the year so far.

Personal Bias: Oakenfold produced Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches by the Happy Mondays, an album that started the Madchester alternative dance-music scene and is one of my favorites of all time.

Personal Bias #2: My satellite radio is often fixed to Liquid Todd during the long drive home in Houston traffic, but it is always a treat to see him take control of the decks live.

Overheard In the Crowd: Security was escorting a disheveled young man out of the venue before 10:30 p.m. and one onlooker said, to no one in particular, “That’s what happens when you get too turnt, too early.”

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