Everybody loves the sunshine. It seems as though this enduring Roy Ayers classic was the unofficial theme for Kaytranada's luminescent performance at the Danforth Music Hall last night (May 20). Able to sell out venues with his signature remixes alone, the Montreal producer's set is on an even higher plane now that he has a full-length studio album, 99.9%, in his repertoire.
As hundreds of giddy Toronto fans waited for the man of the hour, a diminutive fellow in a vintage Ruff Ryders hoodie ran around the stage setting up DJ equipment. He appeared unassuming at first, but at 10 minutes to 9:00, a massive LED screen flooded the floor with blinding white light and the mystery man's name flashed before the audience. It was Lou Phelps, Kaytranada's younger brother and collaborator in their familial duo the Celestics.
After a short, modest introduction, the emcee/DJ dropped Kanye West's "Father Stretch My Hands Pt. 1" to start the evening, much to the pleasure of the inebriated audience. The entire room belted the verse about bleached buttholes like an impromptu edition of a Choir! Choir! Choir! event. It had potential to be awkward, but ultimately proved a unique bonding exercise. From there, Phelps took fans on a journey between eras, masterfully blending cuts from Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Michael Jackson and Bel Biv DeVoe to name a few. Almost surreptitiously, he slipped in the Celestics' "Uptempo" and "173," picking up the mic to rap his verses from behind the booth. Though minor technical difficulties and a few missteps in song selection caused the energy in the room to wane at times, Phelps ended his set on the right note with a medley of selections from Skepta's Konnichiwa. By the time Kaytranada took the stage at 9:30, the audience was practically salivating.
Unable to escape the wrath of Mercury's retrograde, poor Kaytranada's entrance was marred by computer issues, making for an awkward first few minutes. The Toronto crowd was patient as he scrambled for a fix, and by the time the sumptuous, fiery opening chords to Alton Edwards' "I Just Wanna" filled the room, all was forgiven. In a seamless transition, Kaytranada launched into 99.9% opener "Track Uno," as cute, 8-bit suns floated on the screen behind him. His not-so-subliminal messaging was effective: images of palm trees and beaches combined with the calescent hi-hats of "Together," his collaboration with AlunaGeorge and Goldlink, effortlessly raised the temperature of the room. River Tiber's succulent Pusha T collaboration "Illusions" caused eyes to roll back into their sockets, and Vic Mensa's saucy "Wimme Nah" had scores of feet enthusiastically pounding the floor. Kaytranada made sure to play the lush, pulpy remixes his fans adore, like AlunaGeorge's "Kaleidoscope Love" and the Teedra Moses classic "Be Your Girl." By the time he dropped his BADBADNOTGOOD feature "Weight Off", the walls were sweating and the crowd began to strip. "Leave Me Alone," a 99.9% standout featuring Montreal crooner Shay Lia, was a ubiquitous favourite.
Navigating a few more unfortunate equipment glitches with seasoned ease, Kaytranada ended his set with his ethereal remix to Janet Jackson's "If," thanking the crowd and letting Jackson's airy vocals bid Toronto adieu on his behalf. But, yielding to 10 straight minutes of thunderous applause, he bounded back on stage for a brief encore, ending his second act with a sample of an exclusive remix to Chance the Rapper's "They Say" as a way of thanking Toronto for its enthusiasm. "Don't film this!" Kaytranada said, with a mischievous grin, clearly letting his fans in on a tasty secret. "It's exclusive!"