If you are a Skrillex fan, then last night probably blew your mind! If you are a Skrillex hater, you will probably blindly talk shit about a show you didn’t even attend. Someone posted a review calling it the best Red Rocks show of the year. Within minutes someone else posted a comment calling for the reviewer to die. Skrillex is nothing if not polarizing. Sure, there are those who just listen to him when working out, completely oblivious to the American dubstep (brostep) debate raging among comment sections of the web, but popular opinion is that either the guy is some kind of EDM genius, or some kind of evil force that is trying to destroy music as we know it. The truth is, Skrillex is neither of those things. He is just one of the most popular electronic music producers in this new generation of dance music. All it takes is a quick browse through interviews with the man behind it all, Sonny John Moore, to realize he’s actually a pretty likable dude — much more so than the douchebag who wears the mouse hat. So why all the hate? Or for that matter, why all the love? That’s what I went to Red Rocks last night to find out. After doing a little research, I found the consensus is that Skrillex has to be experienced live to be appreciated. And what better way to do that than at my favorite venue?
First off, I don’t like Skrillex music. That’s not to say I don’t like EDM at all. The Avicii show was great. I thoroughly enjoyed ZEDD’s opening set. I really like Bassnectar’s new album. And I’m anxiously looking forward to Pretty Light’s performance next week. I just don’t like Skrillex. But I also don’t like to shut my eyes and ears to something that I just might not understand. So, when the countdown began on the giant digital counter above the spacecraft DJ booth, I have to admit to being pretty excited. It was midnight and I wasn’t expecting the show to start this late, but ZEDD’s set had more than made up for the awful DJ who was on before him and I was amped up for the excitement to come.
It was a crystal clear night with an orange moon rising up in the distance. There were half naked, glow-in-the-dark beauties everywhere. The spinning lasers and lights were almost hypnotic among the rocks. And if you were among those who balanced your chemical intake to allow you to last through the 7 hour show, it had to have been pretty epic when that clock struck zero, followed by fireworks exploding in the air! Skrillex really does need to be seen live to appreciate, because it all reality, the music is just backdrop to the stage props. Fire pot pyrotechnics, a laser show borrowed from Pink Floyd, incredible melting movies on the big screen, and the man himself setup in a spacecraft that rose 50 ft. in the air by night’s end. Amazing, right? Yeah, it was, except for one thing…the music was awful.
In the 90’s I used to go to warehouse and desert parties in Southern California, I even did the one-time pilgrimage to the island of Ibizia, so even though electronic has never been my favorite form of music, I think I know what a good party and a bad party sound like. Skrillex is just a bad dance party. Sure, the stage effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen, but his music leaves no room for variation. Whether it be youtube clips, reggae, hip-hop or rock, he always drags a nail across the chalkboard of the original song and then drops it off a cliff. This really doesn’t seem conducive to any popular drug within the scene, and for those who arn’t high, it’s just repetitive shit. It’s got an aggressiveness to it that I like — an intensity that was missing in a lot of the electronic music I grew up on, but even that loses it’s flavor quickly. Fist pumping for an hour and a half is not what dance music should be about.
There was a time when metal and hip-hop tried to join forces — it ended badly. I think what Skrillex is doing is comparable to the marriage of electro and post-hardcore (and maybe even a little screamo) — it will end badly as well. On a positive note, I do think the kid has talents that could be used for better things. I also think it’s pretty cool that he blows his budget on giving his fans an impressive stage show. What he’s doing is different and I understand why some people love that. But what he is doing is also not very good, so I can understand why people hate on that. I walked away from Red Rocks, in a sea of confetti with fireworks booming overhead, with a smile on my face. It was a great visual experience and now I can say I don’t like Skrillex without anyone telling me I need to see him live. I can also say his music sucks from a position of someone who truly tried. To each their own though. If the kids like it, so be it. Although, if I am wrong on this being a fad, then the future is bleak…you can count me out.