The factor that stands between a talented DJ being a notable performer is their level of showmanship – when Whistler, BC, duo SkiiTour, and Lee Rous of the Plump DJs stormed TEN Nightclub in Calgary on November 22nd, courtesy of Wolfcastle Agency, it wasn’t just their performances but their ability to connect with the crowd that set this show apart from the others.
Every time I’ve seen SkiiTour perform, the crowd is highly anticipating the start of their set and they can keep a huge gathering of people dancing for as long as they are allowed. They have a loyal fan base, and any time they play you can see the physical example of that – everybody, even the bar staff, was in their ski goggles and jackets, retro fluorescent workout gear, and even some full-on snow suits. My favourite outfit of the night was a couple who had custom, fluorescent yellow “EAT, SKI, RAVE, REPEAT” tank tops on. Everybody got their pre-set cigarettes in and had their drinks ready by the time SkiiTour was ready to start, and as the duo took the decks, some crazy cheers went up and the dance floor was suddenly full. So much of the vast crowd was lit up under the blacklights, obviously here to see SkiiTour, that some people were even wondering why they weren’t headlining. Not yet familiar with Plump DJs, I wasn’t answering anyone’s questions, but I trusted Wolfcastle Agency and knew that they were regulars at Shambhala, so I was sure that they were going to be an awesome surprise for someone who hadn’t heard them before.
SkiiTour began our adventure through the next hour and a half with some funky, booty-shaking good beats. With a house feel behind the crunchy sound, the audience had no problems getting down and having a blast to the music, helped along by the signature snow machine that SkiiTour brings with them to each show. Keeping the upbeat vibe with some groovy remixes of Biggie and Wu-Tang tracks, SkiiTour were bringing the bass too and the crowd was totally swept up in the festival vibes. One of my favourite factors in a SkiiTour performance is the level of connection between the artist and audience when they perform – they are always jumping along and having a blast with the people they’re playing for. At this point they used the relationship with the crowd and instructed everyone to turn and give their neighbour a high-five or a hug. They capped off on the festival-love feels of the first part of their set with a Marvin Gaye remix over some serious lows while Dave Rollie was scratching up the decks throughout. Bringing the funk back while still hitting the crowd with that grimy powerhouse of bass, SkiiTour was working the venue into a frenzy, pulling out more and more tribal beats to keep the wild energy flowing, then they began to drop it down to a harmony, almost an interlude, to gather a second wind – people stood still, eyes closed, nostrils flared, listening and allowing the music to flow over them. We were woken from this and brought back to the party when they dropped Fake Blood’s ‘Mars’, to a chorus of nostalgic cheering and the crowd going crazy as we moved into the last leg of their set. Proving why their sets are always a ton of fun, they brought out their new take on a well-known song, “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat”, SkiiTour pointed out the fluorescent couple from earlier in the night and got them on stage to party with them. SkiiTour stayed hard in the funk with crunchy beats until the very end, keeping the crowd buzzing with “The Man”, their remix of Fatboy Slim’s track.
Then Lee Rous of Plump DJs took over the decks, immediately connecting with the crowd. Lee moved us away from SkiiTour’s funky grooves to growling electro beats, cheering with the crowd and showing that he was an act that was a performer and not just a DJ. The night was full of great vibes and connections; throughout most of Plump DJs’ set, Tim and Dave of SkiiTour were out on the stage partying to his hypnotizing bass electro. At multiple points in the night they ventured out and partied in the crowd, meeting their fans and taking lots of pictures with everyone. Seeing an act go out and do that is rad – it made a ton of audience members’ nights to be able to meet the guys they’d seen blow the club away, and for the performers to want to gain that connection with their fans is something you don’t see often enough.
Though many of us seemed to be here for SkiiTour, UK star and Shambhala regular Plump Djs was here to end the night. He absolutely threw down, still keeping the funky vibe alive, but with clean and clear bass power built in too. As we danced and threw hands in the air, balloons were flying overhead, through the snow that SkiiTour’s machine was still spurting out, and Lee Rous was screaming for the crowd to “feel the fucking bass!!”. He kept the crowd pumped by shouting with us as the build-ups grew then crashed to the drop. He played some awesome remixes and classic tracks, with “Everybody Dance Now”, “Renegade Master”, “Da Funk”, and Blur’s “WooHoo” all getting a taste of his flavour and giving the crowd plenty of throwbacks. It seemed hard for a lot of people to tear themselves away and when he played his last track the raucous applause was well-earned.
My favourite point of this party, was the passion everyone had for the music and scene. That was noted in the actions of both headliners, who spent their spare time on the stage, dancing around and partying to the music of other artists, even venturing out to the crowds to make friends with their audience. It wasn’t just the musician’s passion that drove this though – for an audience to show up in specific outfits, bringing their most neon items and precious ski gear to a party, is a testament to how loyal a following the boys at SkiiTour have. Seeing them at festivals throughout the summer, you would know exactly who was at the decks just by looking at the way the crowd was dressed. Having that kind of dedication from a fan base is, in my mind, a point to the strength of our scene, and the music that brings us together, as well as more evidence that SkiiTour are an awesome experience every time they perform.
Words by: Kiddo
Photos by: Cody Simon