“It’s my 14th birthday today,” a young girl adorned in sequins proclaimed as I walked into Fox Theater’s bathroom. As the gaggle of adolescents screamed in unison, I wasn’t sure if I was actually here to see Rusko, or celebrate a coming of age.
With Coachella bands passing through the Bay, Oakland’s had some great shows as of late, like Lauryn Hill and Dave Chapelle. While Rusko is not performing at Coachella, Oakland was the first stop on his new tour. From the show preview teaser, it can easily be seen that he was ready to headline bigger venues with a larger show production. Yet Rusko, no matter how glitzy the show, never strays too far from his fans. From 8-8:45, he patiently parked himself at the merchandise booth, signing shirts and taking pictures with his admirers, smiling in each photo, leaping over the table at times just so he could put his arm around a screaming fan.
From 8-9, Destructo, recently here for HARD, set the scene playing to the numerous teenagers dressed in, well, not really anything. With an all-ages policy, Fox Theater was definitely the party to be at last night if you were living your teenage dream. Playing electro-hits and ending his set with “Look At Me Now” by Chris Brown and transitioning into “Bass Down Low” by Dev, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this show. Electro? House? Top 40s?
Soon enough, U.K. DJ Doorly took the stage and shifted the mood into a bass-heavy dubstep/grimey set. While Destructo warmed up the crowd, Doorly got everyone ready for Rusko. Playing tunes like his remix of “Bonkers” by Dizzee Rascal, and “Ready Steady Go” by Paul Oakenfold (haven’t heard that in 7 years), half the crowd cheered in agreement, while the other half cheered on this newfound discovery. By this time, it was clear that the front was filled with teenagers raving with candy bracelets and fur suits, while adults filled the back, standing quietly waiting for the headliner.
At 10pm, the lights went up and production crew hastily scrambled across the stage. Within 5 minutes, the lights dimmed and suddenly there was an explosion of light. Rusko had arrived.
Starting his set out with favorites like his remix of “Pro Nails,” he immediately hyped up his crowd. The stage was set-up like some sort of contraption, with him in between his name in flashy, pulsating letters in the background. Dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, he exclaimed periodically on the microphone how excited he was for this tour. While most performers with their name in flashing lights might just put on a show for the money, Rusko was definitely the antithesis of that. Jumping around, waving his hands, pointing to the crowd, he seemed to be having just as much if not more fun than his crowd. It stands true that the more love you show to your fans, the more they will give back. Halfway into his set, he dropped “Woo Boost” followed with “Hammertime” and almost everyone in the venue was dancing in a uniform heartbeat. There were some strange interpretive dance moves, and 50% of the crowd was probably under 21, but there was no denying that Rusko can put on a fantastic show. Even the sound and stage guys were caught throwing down a two-step.
Finishing with the smash-hit “Hold On,” and an encore of “Cockney Thug,” it was clear at the 11:30 cut-off that fans wanted more. Almost apologetically, he stated he would be back very soon in the fall. A great show indeed, even if it did mean braving a kid-friendly crowd.