Aoki shines in return to hometown

Steve Aoki pops a bottle of champaign over the crowd gathered for his performance at Ultra Music Festival. Marlena Skrobe//Photo Editor

Iconic DJ Steve Aoki took the stage Sunday afternoon at Ultra. Though the crowd was electric throughout the festival, few performers energized the 165,000 guests quite like the Miami-born Aoki.

In his signature style, he popped champagne, blasted confetti and cheered on a particularly rowdy man who crowd surfed toward the stage in an inflatable raft.

Aoki performed new tracks from his latest record, “Wonderland,” during his set Sunday afternoon.

“I’m going to play an entire set of all my music,” Aoki said before the performance. “I’m excited to support ‘Wonderland,’ which I haven’t really gotten a chance to do. I’m also playing a lot of new things that I just finished two weeks ago. It’s all new s**t and stuff that people are excited to listen to.”

Aoki, 34, started his label, Dim Mak Records in 1996, but released a mix compilation in 2008. Since then, he’s worked with several well-known artists, including LMFAO, Kid Cudi and Diplo, who is scheduled to perform at the University of Miami on April 12.

“I’ve known Diplo since 2003,” Aoki said. “He’s just one of the funniest, craziest friends that I have. We did a tour together in Asia in 2009.”

On his first electronic production, Aoki and Diplo both created two separate remixes of Bloc Party’s “Helicopter.” The remixes were released at the same time.

“I love him to death, he’s literally my brother,” Aoki said. “We’re just born from two different moms.”

Performing at Ultra Music Festival is a treat for Aoki, since it takes place in his hometown.

“I love Miami because the weather is always warm and hot,” he said. “There are always sharks in the ocean; I saw a shark while I was swimming once. It was crazy.”

Known for straying from his laptop while he’s on stage and engaging in stunts including stage dives, Aoki  says his tradition of spraying the first few rows of his crowd with champagne during his set serves a purpose.

“People won’t move from the front,” he said. “They’re dying of thirst and they need hydration because they’re so obsessed and so f***ing high off the music, so it’s like I want to hydrate them. I want to give them something. They want to have some fun.”

Aoki also threw water bottles and two birthday cakes at the audience toward the end of his Sunday set.