May 11, 2013
On Friday night, Mackenzie Johnson, better known by his stage name MAKJ, made his Yost Theater debut in downtown Santa Ana. The 22 year-old DJ and Icon Collective producing school graduate has quickly risen in the EDM ranks with mash-ups, bootlegs and originals that were quickly supported by the likes of Tiësto, Afrojack and Nicky Romero. Recently just headlining the Eco Village stage at Ultra Music Festival in Miami an playing the infamous Juicy Beach alongside Juicy Music owner Robbie Rivera, MAKJ continued his momentum this weekend, bringing his electro house sound to OC with opening support from OC-based DJ Henry Fong.
The pedigree he showed at the Yost was developed through some solid teaching early in his career. MAKJ met the late DJ AM through mutual friends DJ Marshall Barnes and DJ Politik in 2008. Mentored by AM, he learned the art of scratching and deejaying to diverse crowds and through a blend of different genres. He developed his own take on EDM, employing his hip-hop influences, signature edits to classics and remixes which quickly caught on to some of the biggest names in dance music. “I was making tracks that were very easy to use,” Johnson said in an interview prior to his set. “They could play it everywhere, from a bar mitzvah to XS in Las Vegas.” Learning a lot about producing format, arrangement and what the biggest DJ's like Mackenzie combined his deejaying skills to create his alter ego, MAKJ.
The LA resident tore it up at the Yost Theater with barrage of bangers during his almost two-hour set. Mindful of the always impatient EDM crowd, he never let a song go past two minutes as his transitions synced up with the lasers and LED wall projecting his DJ logo as well as other crazy visuals. Though the crowd may not have been as packed as he may have hoped, those in attendance were taking advantage of the ample room on the dance floor shuffling and fist pumping to every beat. Several industry folks were also in attendance showing their support, but missing were the usual breathtaking aerialists and go-go dancers during MAKJ's set. Regardless, the epic sound system and fans armed with glow sticks made up for it with their energy and excitement.
MAKJ looked like he was having a great time on stage as he was dancing and singing along to the tracks. Splicing everything from Sebastian Ingrosso & Tommy Trash's “Reload” vs. Swedish House Mafia's “Don't You Worry Child.” We're not going to lie, he even had us singing along. The crowd grew wild hearing MAKJ's take on the most popular EDM tracks of the moment, but we were a tad disappointed we missed him play a few of his originals like “Hold Up,” released today on Juicy Music Records. We also missed his versatility and ability to play all types of shit, much like we heard him play when he opened for Dada Life at Avalon or in Miami. Maybe he was playing to a less EDM educated crowd, but we know he had much more in his skill set than a litany of Beatport Top 40 selections.
Personal Bias: MAKJ did play his new collaborations with Hardwell & Lil Jon which were also cool to hear live for the first time.
The Crowd: OC EDM fans, some industry people and lots of weekend club fiends ready to party.
Overheard in the Crowd: “If I'm well drugged I can dance all night.”
Random Notebook Dump: When did the Yost get a photo booth? That thing is awesome and definitely a good addition!