Aldrich Park After Dark

Nathan Duong | New University

As I made my way to the upper lawn of the ever-lovely Aldrich Park, the quickly descending evening dark made the growing glow in the distance seem even brighter. As the muted but chest-rumbling bass grew louder in the distance and flashes of colorful stage lights shot over the crest of the hill, I was suddenly distracted by what I can only assume what was the local jousting club or a small gathering of UC Irvine students who were venting their anger through stabbing each other with blunt and (hopefully) padded objects. After sharing this bizarre juxtaposition of simulated medieval shenanigans against a backdrop of pulsing music and flashing light and wondering if this was in fact, real life, I can now move on to actually covering the bass-dropping extravaganza that was Aldrich Park After Dark.

This past Wednesday night, the gracious ASUCI hosted the annual “Park After Dark” concert — headlined by L.A. Riots and Luke Christopher — as part of this year’s Welcome Week festivities. As I alluded to before, the transformative qualities of the concert stage were impressive. One hour we have the sunny slopes of Aldrich Park, the next we have a flashing, spinning, pounding party epicenter. (And what party is complete without your friendly security?)

The concert started at 7 p.m. as the local Electronic Dance Union opened for the few students scattered on the upper lawn. After munching on the delicious dishes of the Kogi food truck, which features Korean BBQ to-go, and checking out the undoubtedly awesome deals at the booth, which was described by a representative as a mix between Amazon and Best Buy (with discount prices), concertgoers made their way to the front of the stage as things began to heat up, and the EDU dropped a few finely spun tunes before opening up the stage for the headliners.

Setting the stage for Luke Christopher was DJ Wreckineyez, who artfully dropped “Outta Your Mind” as an opener. There’s nothing like pounding out the intoxicating “Let’s fucking lose it” to get the people going. Well-played, skinny white sir.

Wreckineyez commonly sports a pair of oversized hipster-esque glasses (presumably to back up his clever play-on-words DJ moniker), but looks can be deceiving. This DJ packs plenty of swag and an affinity for intricate scratches and flawless blends, which he showed off quite well that Wednesday night. After gliding into “The Motto” and a few other hits, DJ Wreckineyez provided a bass-tastic musical backdrop for the rhymes of Luke Christopher, who finally entered the stage after much ado.

Christopher, a 19 year-old native of Los Angeles with that rising-star spark about him, connected with the audience right away. “Damn … you all look good as fuck,” was his opening line. Hook, line, and sinker. Luke Christopher breezed through his set, during which he layered his own clever rhymes and smooth crooning over an eclectic mash-up of crowd-pleasing samples. With killer stage presence, strong rapping chops and a great sound, Luke kept the crowd happy and fist-pumping.

Mid-set, Christopher turned the stage over to Wreckineyez, who broke into a bit of turntable trickery, complete with bold scratches and turn-around tricks before kicking the focus back over to his young cohort (about whom he later tweeted, “Great times rockin’ at UC Irvine tonight, with @LukeChrisMuzic … Def a superstar in the making”).

Luke seems most well-known for his work with Asher Roth on “Roof Tops,” a catchy song with which he graced the ears of the audience. With a voice somewhere between Wiz Khalifa and Usher and that elusive mix of charm and swag, I found myself wishing this set was a bit longer.

Before long the stage was turned over to headliner, L.A. Riots. The group, which features creator Daniel Linton (and was named on the 15th anniversary of said infamous riots), boasts a blended sound of house, techno and drum-and-bass music.

At this point, the concert gave way to full EDM mode, complete with some more great drops and that unmistakable electronic-dance bounce. The light show reached full tilt with the arrival of L.A. Riots, with moments of sunglasses-required flashes of light, trip-tastic strobe interludes and a constant assuage of color wheels. A slow trickle of stage-smoke, which started at the concert’s beginning, had reached its full EDM fog glory at this point, producing a great backdrop for those brave souls who decided to crowd surf. (This ended badly more than once, but there were a few epic crowd surfers who successfully rode the wave of hands. Snaps to you!) The audience dug L.A. Riots, as was evidenced by the perpetual fist pumping and the en masse hopping during especially hot drops.

Finally, a few of UCI’s very own closed the show, when DJs Reckasette and TXTY from the EDU took the stage and dropped the bass until it was time to go home. After another dose of the EDM extravaganza, the EDU DJs dropped a nicely spun version of Semisonic’s “Closing Time” that was the perfect electronic-dance-period for the entertaining sentence that was Aldrich Park After Dark.