Kill the Zo
Grand Central, Miami
Friday, May 23, 2014
It's not uncommon for two or more DJs to band together in an attempt to form some sort of supergroup. The most obvious and commercially successful would be the late Swedish House Mafia. Hanbraekes is a personal favorite, combining the best of Boys Noize and Mr. Oizo, the former of which also collabs with Skrillex as Dog Blood. There's Afroki (Afrojack and Steve Aoki), Jack U (Diplo and Skrillex), Duck Sauce (A-Trak and Armand Van Helden), and the list goes on.
Most of these pairings, while cool to see, aren't what we'd call "adventurous." These guys already share the same fanbases. Their music is similar enough that their work together, while exciting, could have been easily anticipated.
That's what makes Kill the Zo interesting. They come from different worlds. They are known for totally different styles of production. And yet their performance at Grand Central proved gaps are better enjoyed with bridges.
We arrived to the show early enough to catch most of Wuki. The Denver DJ set the tone for a hard evening, mixing hip-hop and hard electro tracks. The young crowd of 18-and-ups mingled on the porch and filled the dance floor, skanking and waving their glowsticks around like they would at any other rave.
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Wuki's two-hour warm-up was followed by double headlining sets. Kill the Noise got things started, followed by Mat Zo. Both players commanded the dance floor with ease. Kill the Noise delivered a characteristically hard yet varied performance. Mat Zo similarly rocked the place with a fresh mix of original and genre-spanning favorites. It was our first time seeing the 24-year-old Londoner live, and we have to say, the hype is well deserved.
In a recent interview with Kill the Noise's Jake Stanczak, we here at Crossfade were assured the seemingly strange pairing was quite a natural fit. He said Zo is increasingly interested in drum 'n' bass, and the shadows of that interest showed in the Mat's solo effort. The d'n'b tendencies also shaded their joint performance, though we'd have to wait hours to find out.
Honestly, we waited too long, until after 3 a.m. According to Stanczak, the collaboration's primary aim is to shake things up. He and Zo want to break the scene out of its monotonous and predictable routine. We're glad to say their collaborative performance fulfilled that promise, but not so happy that half the crowd had already gone home.
Kill the Zo brings something different and exciting. There is a certain energy between the two that absolutely works. The effect that they have on one another is obvious. And everyone still rockin' was putty in their hands. The people loved the mix of hard bass and pure melody as each DJ took his turn.
Drum 'n' bass revivalists would be happy to know the set was full of the fast-paced style. If Kill the Zo succeeds at nothing else, they could very well bring d'n'b back. They give the old favorite a fresh, thrilling twist, and we eagerly await more original productions to see where this goes.
Still, if they're trying to shake things up, they should lead with the new offering. They're in a great position with plenty of buzz and an open-minded audience. They shouldn't worry about scaring people off, and they don't need to grab fans' attentions with the expected solo stuff. Stanczak told us being a visionary means taking risks. He said audiences want to hear something different, even if they don't know it yet. Kill the Zo has the vision, and it's coming at the right time.
If they really want to keep the headlining sets, they could at least cut the opening one short. Maybe they don't even need an opener, but instead, they should just charge right into the action. When fans buy tickets to a Kill the Zo tour and half of them leave before actually seeing Kill the Zo, they miss the real experience and the whole experimental point.
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In the end, we'd call Kill the Noise and Mat Zo's duo show a pleasant success. We'd certainly recommend fans of either (or neither) give them a fair chance. We'd then dare the artists to lead with Kill the Zo and trust that what they have is worth the risk.
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Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.