Datsik summons his ‘Ninja Nation’ to Belly Up Aspen
If You Go …
Where: Belly Up Aspen
When: Monday, Feb. 6, 9:30 p.m.
How much: $18/advance; $20/day-of
Tickets: Belly Up box office; www.bellyupaspen.com
As a kid growing up in British Columbia, Troy Beetles was consumed by the kung fu-inflected hip-hop tales of the Wu-Tang Clan and the drama of martial arts video games like “Mortal Kombat.”
Now known around the world as the dubstep DJ and producer Datsik, Beetles has brought those influences to the fore in a new EP and a tour that comes to Belly Up Aspen on Monday.
Datsik is in the midst of his “Ninja Nation” tour, a kung-fu themed extravaganza that includes an elaborate dojo-styled “shogun stage” set-up and light show, along with the DJ in costume as what he calls “a cross between (the ‘Mortal Kombat’ characters) Raiden and Sub Zero.”
Returning to the cozy confines of Belly Up — which can’t hold the tour’s massive set — he’s planning a scaled-down version of the visual spectacle but no less of a sonic one.
“When we come up to Aspen, I always end up doing something a little more intimate,” Beetles said from a tour stop in Cleveland. “It’s going to be crazy. I’m really excited to come up there and do something special.”
Along with adhering to the kung fu theme, his new “Sensei” EP is a cohesive album of hard-hitting dubstep with samples of martial arts movies, Asian folk music fused with bass and hip-hop elements. It operates narratively with a dramatic arc like many of Datsik’s sets. As he put it: “I start the EP off really heavy, take you on a journey, do a little hip-hop, then toward the end mellow out and finally come back in really hard.”
On most of the current tour, he’s been spinning and remixing his “Sensei” EP in its entirety and in sequence. Playing a smaller room in Aspen, he’s more inclined to experiment. For example, Beetles said he may add a collaborative set to the show with Virtual Riot, who opens Monday’s concert.
Doing ninja-themed records and tours seemed inevitable for Beetles.
“I feel like it’s been part of who I am since I can remember,” he said. “I grew up on Wu-Tang.”
On that front, his swing through Colorado includes a dream come true: Wu-Tang’s GZA — whose “Liquid Swords” heavily influenced “Sensei” — played with Datsik at the 1st Bank Center in Broomfield on Saturday night.
“I’m blessed and happy to make my wildest dreams come true these days,” he said. “I’m living out my childhood fantasy of becoming a ‘Mortal Kombat’ character and getting my heroes to come out and perform with me. It’s all a bit mind-blowing.”
Also, maybe, a bit over-the-top and silly, Beetles admits. But he said the tour’s been a hell of a good time and that his legions of fans appear to be along for the ride to Shaolin. (At a recent show in Baltimore, he brought a costumed fan up on stage for a play martial arts battle and dance-off).
“As weird and as cheesy as it sounds,” he said, “it’s so much fun — it’s awesome that kids are playing along.”
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