With beats and influences from Korea, India, the U.K., Argentina, and New York, World Beats was true to its name. The electronica-themed night was complemented by live musicians who illustrated that house beats stem from real instruments. Headliner Paul Oakenfold proved his dominating DJ and production skills by balancing his classic dance-club style with an innovative 90-minute presentation of digitized visuals and live acts well-suited to the Bowl’s size and aud.
Set up on center stage in front of a huge screen of kaleidoscope images, Oakenfold began his set solo spinning 20 minutes of upbeat house that moved into the dominating bass beats that have made him one of the most recognized international DJs. He executed his beat changes fluidly and quickly, giving himself time to raise hands over head or duck away to search for the next album in the crates behind him.
Ending his solo portion with the repeating sample “dirty, stinking man,” Oakenfold took a backseat to Shifty Shellshock, who sang “Starry Eyed Surprise” while the DJ spun. The predictable pop song, though generic, does boast a spot on a recent Volvo TV advertisement. Another tune, “Motion,” from his Maverick Records debut “Bunkka,” was more complex and moodier, with singer Grant Lee Phillips providing haunting vocals.
Oakenfold brought out guests for other perfs — singer Dierdre Dubois and keyboardist Carmen Rizzo — before inviting the group out for the finale of “Hollywood,” complete with violins and upright basses. The collaboration disguised the live music among the electronically produced sounds; the result was a full-bodied and satisfying groove.
Opener Karsh Kale, inspired by the music of Morocco, Senegal and India, kicked off the evening by combining beats played on turntables with electric guitars and tabla sounds. The UCLA Samulnori Drummers, numbering more than 50, exercised precise percussion on barrel drums, hourglass drums and various-sized gongs on two songs inspired by traditional Korean farmer music.