Ryan Raddons DJ name is Kaskade and that nom de turntable captures the spirit of much of his recorded output that gets radio play: a shimmering, soulful melodic take on house music often topped with cooing female vocals that, at its best, is like a waterfall of sound. Its a style -- at once propulsive and restful -- that has given his more popular tracks as Move for Me and Angel on My Shoulder their distinction.
But, as he showed at a sold-out show at the Palladium Ballroom Saturday night, Kaskade chucks all of that out of the window when playing live. Any sense of melody fell victim to the heavy hammer of dubstep and trance in his numbing, narrow 95-minute set.
Thats probably to be expected as that is what the fist-pumping electronic dance music audience -- that has turned Deadmau5 and Skrillex (Kaskade has collaborated with both) into major stars -- wants these days. Its an approach that now means he can headline Los Angeles cavernous Staples Center sports arena in a few days.
Occasionally, the pumped-up aggression worked, as on the passionate and funky Lessons in Love. And the constant visual stimulation -- a rain of confetti, clouds of smoke, large balls bouncing through the audience, multiple screens showing stars, fire, and cityscapes -- certainly got the crowd hyped up. But it also added to sense that, by the end of the set, your head had been caught in a drill press.