Posted on 2013/07/27 00:27
  • Live Report
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Seven Observations From Skrillex’s White Stage Set Friday Night

1. Skrillex played his set inside a spacefighter/on a Transformer

An hour before Sonny Moore, a.k.a. Skrillex, began his set, the White Stage was prepared behind a giant black curtain. This was to make the reveal of what Moore would be playing in all the more cool. He spent his entire 90-minute performance inside what at first looked like a space ship ripped from a science-fiction movie. Until, midway through, it transformed into a new form that allowed the once-seated Moore to now stand on an out-of-nowhere stage.

2. Skrillex’s set was visually insane

Fireworks. Fog. Glitter bombs. Fire shooting out of the ground. Skrillex does not mess around when it comes to spectacle. His Friday White Stage headlining show was visual overload at times, with lasers and lights shooting off constantly. He riled the crowd up by starting his set with a five-minute countdown that had punters building up excitement. Every song he played was accompanied by a retina-attracting video broadcast behind him too – ranging from rapid-fire graphics to video of skateboarders to Japanese kanji for his song “Kyoto.” His videos were also constantly funny – one track was accompanied by what looked like .GIF files of dancing animals, and another starred a cast of chickens rocking out at a club.

3. Skrillex played during a thunderstorm

Well, partially played during a thunderstorm, as the rain let up a little over half-an-hour into his set. But those first 30 minutes weren’t a light drizzle, and lighting streaks were clearly visible over the mountains. This backdrop adds some mythmaking flair to Skrillex’s set (“remember the time Skrillex played Fuji Rock…in a freakin’ storm???”) but also made the audience turn out more impressive too.

4. Skrillex attracted a lot of people

Even though it started during a freakin’ storm. And sure, some people were probably catching Skrillex out of pure curiosity, and some still were hate-watching the figurehead of contemporary Electronic Dance Music. But most people appeared to earnestly be losing their minds to Skrillex. One person had an inflatable duck they kept thrusting into the air. Lots of people had glowsticks. It was an electric atmosphere, peaking with Skrillex waving both American and Japanese flags.

5. Skrillex doesn’t really let up

Rare is the mild moment in Skrillex’s music. He’s either building up to something, or diving into a bass-heavy whirlwind (referred to as “the drop”). His Fuji Rock set was mostly an unrelenting series of valleys and peaks, designed to never let the energy sag. Skrillex isn’t perfect at this – there were stretches of his show Friday night where folks weren’t as pumped up – but for the most part this sonic strategy works, coaxing watchers to put their hands up in the air while a song is building, and getting them to wild out when the bass drops.

6. Skrillex is smarter than a lot of people give him credit for

The above description of Skirllex’s music tends to be turned into the ultimate criticism of Moore – his music is (mostly) derided by being called “brostep,” implying it’s lunkheaded. But that’s just being dishonest, because Moore draws from a lot of places for inspiration, and his set at White Stage confirmed this. Moments during his show Friday sounded straight from the Aphex Twin playbook, while  videos played during the show appeared to be homages to Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. And it’s not just that…

7. Skrillex completely destroys the concept of genres

Skrillex chews up the concept of “musical genres” until it is a non-visible mush. Many who hate Skrillex associate him solely with the head-scrambling bass sound of songs like “Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites” or “Bangarang” (both played to massive pops). Friday, he incorporated elements of rock ‘n’ roll, reggae, drum ‘n’ bass, Southern crunk, dubstep and more into his sound. Hell, at one point he just played a rap song, no edits. Skrillex’s set felt like a marathon YouTube session, except with every clip bleeding into the next. What was most thrilling about Skrillex’s Fuji Rock appearance was how he totally rejected the idea of genre and just embraced everything he loved (dude at one point featured a Jim Morrison quote) and played it out to the crowd. Who loved it.