On Saturday, July 15, after headlining the Audiotistic festival in Mountain View, Canadian-DJ-trio Keys n Krates travelled up the East Bay for an afterparty set at Cornerstone. Bombastic beats in tow, Keys put on a slapping, banging, trap-heavy set for a very hyped Berkeley crowd. Unlike most “DJ sets”, Keys were heavy on their own discography, eschewing a traditional afterparty set for a headline-worthy show.

If you’re unacquainted with Keys n Krates (who are signed to Steve Aoki’s Dim Mak record label), all you need to know about them is their sound – bass-heavy, loud, and eminently danceable. The venue – relatively intimate by Bay Area standards – amplified every boom, every bang, every crash, and every drop, delivering an unusually full-body concert experience and giving new meaning to the term “afterparty.”

While Keys’ combination of dance and trap music is hardly unique,  the group does it better than any other artist working in the genre. The three-piece group not only alternates between the two genres, but effortlessly combines them. Highlights like “Right Here,” a collaboration with KRANE, combine more traditional dance drops with trap beats, while others, like “I Just Can’t Deny” and “U Already Know,” lean more towards slapping-trap territory. Keys’ classic “Nothing But Space (feat. Aqui)” was another highlight of the set, seeing the group venture into future bass-lite territory.

It’s important to note that Keys isn’t your traditional group of DJs. Consisting of drummer Adam Tune, keyboardist David Matisse, and turntablist Jr. Flo, the trio relies on actual instruments as much as they do electronic beats. In their sound, the blend of instruments and methods makes for a more interesting listen than the usual “standard” EDM artist. Additionally, their live show is exceptionally engaging and interactive with all three members interacting with the crowd in ways many DJs don’t.

The three opening sets – a barrage of local DJs – didn’t disappoint either, nearly threatening to upstage Keys n Krates as the highlight of the night. Covering every style of EDM, from techno house to future bass to straight dubstep and everything in between, each was worthy of a headlining spot in their own right, and pushed the (fictional) Cornerstone-hype-meter to its max.

The combination of Keys’ energy and engagingness and Cornerstone’s intimate space made for a thoroughly entertaining, unique experience beyond what most would expect of a DJ set. For as good as Keys’ music sounds on a daily listening basis, this is a group that demands to be seen live. Whether it’s a headlining festival set, a standalone show, or a Saturday night afterparty, take advantage of any opportunity you have – your mind, body, and soul will thank you.

Keys n Krates return to California Sept. 15 for Nocturnal Wonderland in San Bernardino. KRANE plays Cornerstone August 11.

Written by Jordan Aronson

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