Before becoming known as Skrillex, Sonny Moore was the frontman of the post-hardore band From FIrst to Last. Moore left the band in 2007 to pursue a solo career. He began performing as Skrillex in 2008, but the release of his debut EP, My Name is Skrillex, as a free download in June 2010 shot him into the public eye. Late last year he released Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, which quickly gained him even more attention. He is widely loved (and also hated).
YouTube footage from Skrillex's Roseland show.
The reason so many young people flock to see Skrillex perform is that he makes his shows more of an auditory thrill ride than a concert: What the music lacked in subtlety and sophistication, it made up for with driven beats and a gritty sound that turned the entire venue into a packed, multi-level dance floor at Roseland. The oversized screen behind Skrillex projected a CGI creature that looked like a cross between Iron Man and something from of Tron. It matched the motions of the wildly gesticulating DJ, thanks to a body suit that transferred his movement on to the screen. This allowed everyone present to see what he was doing, in addition to adding a surreal quality to the show. After over two hours of playing, Moore’s long black hair flung droplets of sweat up in front of the lights every time he swung his head. This is not a man who performs with any less than 100% of himself. Even though he isn’t playing any traditional musical instruments, he was not holding back anything. He put on one hell of a show.
The glowing figure on the screen was not the only light show on display. Many of those in attendance were adorned in glowing or flashing ornaments of some kind. From light up T-shirts, to glow in the dark makeup, to gloves with colored LED lights on the fingertips, the entire theater was aglow with tiny lights. The dancing was not the typical bump-and-grind seen in most dance music videos, but rather a rhythmic sort of bobbing. For the most part, the theater was not filled with people dancing to impress, but people moving their bodies in time with the beat. Seldom did anyone’s dancing look forced or showy. When the music reached especially high points, or when Moore stretched the seconds before a drop for any sustained length of time, hands would be raised as if to implore him to release the driving beat again.
After the show a flood of sweaty and bedraggled concertgoers pushed their way out on to the street corner. Most were flushed and covered in sweat and glitter. Exhaustion was evident on many of the faces, and yet few people looked anything other than content. Waves of adrenaline and excitement were still being ridden. The crowd slowly dispersed into the night, a neon colored tide of those yet to comedown from the high of a night spent dancing.
This was as much a celebration of being young and alive as it was a celebration of music. Maybe the music played at this concert wont last. Maybe in a few years we will all have found some other pounding beat to get our pulses racing. But the purpose of this concert was not to sit quietly and reflect upon the feelings caused by the music. The purpose of this concert was to let your heartbeat be replaced by synthetic rhythms, and to think of nothing but absorbing the noises and lights. It’s not about the music being timeless, it’s about you being timeless, even if its only for a while. At one point during the concert, Moore asked everyone to hold their lighters and cellphones to the sky. The sight of hundreds of small flames held aloft next to the brightly lit screens of smart phones felt fitting: The timeless rush of a good concert, side to side with the flashy technology of the future. Like the generation before us held their lighters high... We held our cellphones high. It’s not the same scene, and it’s not for everyone—but it is our scene, for now, and it feels great.