This past Saturday, The Hoxton (an intimate venue nestled in the heart of Toronto’s Fashion District), welcomed back it’s poster child for bass, Alvin Risk. It’s difficult to explain who he is and what he does. He’s skinny with large, round, Harry Potter-esque glasses and is usually seen performing in an argyle sweater and dress shirt. But behind the mask of an awkward teenager lies a rising powerhouse in all things Dance music- be it his violently powerful laser-fuelled dubstep, his slow, grinding moombahton, or melodic, smile-inducing progressive. The last year has seen Alvin propelled to the forefront of the American scene by the likes of Designer Drugs, Steve Aoki, Skrillex (whom signed him immediately at the airport he was flown to), and Kaskade, for whom he was directly supporting during the colossal Freaks of Nature Tour this past summer. He has just embarked on his new tour in support of his EP Infinity, which takes him on a whirlwind tour of the US and Australia, with his only stop in Canada being this night. I had the privilege of seeing Alvin live approximately 11 months ago at this very venue, and he had put on a show to remember. The atmosphere then felt much more like an epic house party due to the smaller crowd. But not this night; it was obvious that people had taken notice of his unique style and came to see it live.
The venue itself is a small and noticeably classier than my usual spot for my bass fix, Wrongbar. Many of the patrons were upscale, young Torontonians, who were dressed to impress. I definitely think some instantly regretted their decision, as the dancefloor quickly filled up and the sweat began to drip. The opening DJ played a nice mix of electro and progressive, the second half of his set being what he must be most comfortable playing – progressive house. By the time I was comfortably at the front, Alvin Risk had entered the building and was beginning to set up. He was all smiles as he shook hands with fans and even recognized fans from previous shows (ahem, ahem). When he was finally ready, the house stopped, and Alvin took to the mic, becoming his own MC.
“Toronto, are you ready to do this shit?”
Alvin opened strong with his new track Nemesis, which, as any avid gamer knows, is featured in the Halo 4 soundtrack and weapons preview videos. After a heavy dubstep drop, he punched right into Congorock‘s Ivory. The crowd exploded in dance and it could be argued that Alvin was dancing harder than half of us! Almost as quickly as he had mixed into the previous track, he went right into his next bomb, a mashup of Skrillex‘s All I Ask of You and Kill the Noise – Kill the Noise (Alvin Risk Remix), as he sang overtop of the vocals. Knowing this crowd would know every single word, he quickly mixed into one of his most popular tracks at the moment, Fun ft. Janelle Monae – We Are Young (Alvin Risk Remix Pt 1 and 2). Oh, and by the way, did I mention that he had only been playing for 10 minutes?
I could continue listing out Alvin’s tracks for the night, but this review would get extremely dull. Instead I’ll leave a tracklist of everything I managed to catch at the end. What I particularly loved about Alvin’s set was how diverse it was. Playing through pretty much every genre of electronic music available is extremely difficult as it is, but that doesn’t include having smooth transitions and the relatively short time his set actually was (he played for approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes). What makes it all possible are his performance tools – Ableton Live and what I believe is an APC-40. Being able to warp tracks and launch samples is the staple of his sets, and he does so with utmost perfection. Unlike Skrillex, who originally would launch Ableton samples with an M-Audio trigger finger, Alvin Risk has polished his sets to the level expected of an amazing performer, and really has no need to learn how to actually “DJ” with a standard set of club CDJs.
The final point I would like to draw your attention to is Alvin’s voice. During his set, Alvin slowed things down considerably with a piano and synth strings sample, which I had assumed would just be the intro to another one of his songs. But he picked up his mic, and began to sing an original track. It was after a bit of research that I found out Alvin used to be the lead singer of an electronic band, and many of his songs actually use his own singing talents. He did a fantastic job, and it was probably the most unique thing I have ever seen an electronic artist do.
Alvin Risk is an absolutely fantastic artist and performer. Now granted, I have a strong bias, but anyone who was there would have to agree, Alvin Risk is the next big act in EDM. He is sitting on a plethora of unreleased tracks just waiting for recognition, and with Skrillex guiding this young man’s career, there is no doubt that he will only get bigger, command larger stages, and get the attention he so rightly deserves. Keep your eye out for his new album, it will be the new standard against which both dubstep and electro artists will be measured.
Gary Sagoo – EDM TOR
Alvin Risk – Nemesis
Congorock – Ivory
Skrillex – All I Ask of You vs. Kill the Noise – Kill the Noise (Alvin Risk Remix)
Fun ft. Janelle Monae – We are Young (Alvin Risk Remixes Pt 1 and 2)
Steve Aoki ft. Rivers Cuomo – Earthquakey People (Alvin Risk Remix)
Skylar Grey – Dance Without You (Alvin Risk Remix)
Splack Pack – Shake That Ass Bitch vs. Porter Robinson – Say My Name
The Bloody Beatroots & Steve Aoki – Warp 1.9 (Willy Williams Remix)
Alvin Risk – Psychotic vs. Psychotic (Alex Young Trap Edit)
Alvin Risk ft. Skrillex – Imma Try It Out
Alvin Risk & Skrillex- Put Em’ Up
Monsta – Messiah (Alvin Risk Remix)
Alvin Risk & Tittsworth – La Campana
Alvin Risk ft. Sirah – Survival
Oh My! – Dirty Dancer (Alvin Risk Remix)
Alvin Risk & Tittsworth – Pandejas
John Legend – Move On Up (Radioclit Dub Remix)
Autoerotique – Asphyxiation
Deftones – You’ve Seen the Butcher (Mustard Pimp Remix)
Zedd – The Legend of Zelda
Skrillex ft. Damien Marley – Make it Bun Dem (Alvin Risk Remix)
Ali Love – Diminishing Returns vs. Skrillex – Ruffneck Bass (Full Flex)
Alvin Risk – Infinity
Kaskade – Eyes (Alvin Risk Remix)
Major Lazer – Original Don (Flosstradamus Remix)
Alvin Risk & Bulletproof – One