Kensington Dispatches: A tropical start to the summer with DJ Oreku at Handlebar

Written by Lawrence Belanger

Passionate about electronic music, live performances, and fostering community with musicians and fans of music.

June 04, 2024

Contributor’s Note: Every weekend, I head to Kensington Market and walk down Augusta Ave and the nearby area to hear what’s playing from the numerous bars and clubs in the area. This time, I focus on the recent DJ Oreku show at Handlebar, which itself is rapidly becoming a go-to spot for me.

– Lawrence Belanger, Contributing Editor

MAY 30 – It was a quiet night otherwise on Augusta Ave, but one place was packed to hear the return of DJ Oreku at Handlebar, who started the summer vibes a little bit early. Having played here four years ago, Oreku has returned after COVID-19 ended his residency at the club. This night marked a special homecoming, and the anticipation was palpable.

Review

Oreku, the stage name of Cayden Mowbray, delivered a fresh and electrifying set that perfectly captured the essence of summer. His music, characterized by tropical house beats, set the tone for the evening, evoking the feeling of a warm, early June morning. The crowd responded enthusiastically, dancing to the infectious intersections of disco, funk, and house that Oreku expertly blended.

Moreover, DJ Oreku’s show had a distinct nostalgic ’80s influence, with drum beats and samples that harkened back to an earlier age of electronic music. The addition of tropical percussion elements, such as bongos, added a unique flair that transported the audience to a sun-soaked paradise. As the night progressed, the energy on the floor intensified. At 12:50 am, Oreku shifted gears, increasing the tempo and incorporating harder, more driving beats. Concurrently, Salsa and Latin rhythms seamlessly wove into the mix, Oreku infusing the atmosphere with a vibrant, groovy vibe that kept Handlebar’s dance floor packed.

Mowbray’s ability to navigate through various genres while maintaining a cohesive sound is a testament to his skill as a DJ and producer. After 2 am, he started mixing in what I lovingly call “party piano club music” due to its combination of beats and piano keys. DJ Oreku upped the tempo slightly and ensured the momentum never waned at Handlebar, whose audience was captivated from start to finish, riding the waves of the dynamic performance.

For More

Moving beyond his talents on stage, Cayden Mowbray is also the force behind Stereoferment, a record label in Toronto. Did you miss out on this night of tropical funk vibes? You can follow Oreku on Instagram @orekusound and stream his music on Spotify.

Oreku’s next show is a “quirky one” at a laundromat/art gallery in Parkdale, at She Said Gallery on June 21st, as part of an exhibit opening for a local photographer named Lauren Stewart. Find out more here. Long term, Mowbray hopes to return to Handlebar on a regular basis like before the pandemic.

Check out the last Kensington Dispatch.

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