ACL Live Review: Kaytranada

Montreal DJ coverts Shazam addicts

“You’re experiencing Kaytranada live ... from the basement to the dance floors,” read massive digital displays for DJ/producer Kaytranada’s booming set. The tastemaker brought the crowd at the Miller Lite stage on Friday into his virtual dingy bottom floor for a genius session in how to keep ears piqued, Shazam apps working to overload, and asses moving.

Photo by Gary Miller

The key to the former SoundCloud superstar isn’t just the music. Everything lives and dies in the mix. Good DJs who can make great songs usually unfurl the tracks like a buffet. Great DJs who also produce, like Montreal native Louis Celestin, actively seize your attention at every turn. The other key: without fail, there’s always a ridiculous fonky bassline.

Kaytranada would be J Dilla if the legend made house music in his lifetime.

Famous, club-ready, ugly-face-creating “flips,” or remixes, of popular songs remain his calling card. The DJ cinched his grip with a lounged-out remix of Sade’s “Kiss of Life,” which led into Rihanna’s explosive “Kiss It Better.” His propulsive rehashing of Janet Jackson’s “If” then locked down the wildly diverse crowd. The beauty of a Kaytranada set is watching mind-blown, wide-eyed spectators who’ve somehow never heard the track scramble to their phones – not for video, but to Shazam the flip.

He kicked out a couple of “world premiere, exclusives,” highlighted by a bouncy flip of Kali Uchis’ defiant “Your Teeth in My Neck.” A track he produced for Austin-favorite the Internet, “Girl,” made an appearance. Van Jess-assisted “Dysfunctional” sent the vibing crowd upward.

The maestro went into his album bag, pulling choice riddims from the award-winning 99.9%. “Glowed Up,” featuring Anderson Paak, was a requirement. He closed the show with his biggest solo single to date, the effervescent “Lite Spots,” built upon Afro-Brazilian percussion and a mean sample from Gal Costa’s “Pontos de Luz” from 1973.

Imagine walking away from a Kaytranda show, twice satisfied – with what you’ve personally witnessed and the haul you have to play for people later as his disciple.


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