You can say what you will about Skrillex and discount dubstep as a genre completely, but there is one fact that cannot be debated — the young producer is talented. For better or for worse, he has exposed the electronic music scene to millions of new fans. His sets consistently evoke some of the rowdiest and most energetic crowds at every festival he performs at and this past Saturday at Electric Zoo was no different.
When Sonny Moore took the stage Saturday afternoon, Hilltop was the most packed it had been in the two days of the festival (and the most packed it would be for the remainder). Most of the crowd huddled underneath the festival’s second largest tent had just came from Porter Robinson’s trashy electro set — bringing much of that energy with them. Soaked in sweat, all sorts of electronic music fans pushed and slid their way towards the front of the stage. Unconcerned with etiquette or comfort, bodies swayed and shoved as the familiar double kick drums and Gary Go vocals on “Cinema” burst through the sound system. Shortly thereafter, the familiar reggae masterpiece “Welcome to Jamrock” by Damien Marley received the Dr. Jekyll treatment as it was distorted to resemble a much angrier version of its usually mellow self.
As the crowd moved in unison to the dubstep-infused reggae, the familiar steel drums and bells of “Bass Cannon” could be heard building in the background. The rumbling build was met with cheers while some concertgoers used their friends shoulders to vault into the sky as the bass cannon kicked.
Unexpectedly, the opening monologue from “Where’s My Money” muffled through the speakers as Skrillex mashed together Caspa’s remix with Savage’s classic track “Swing.” Delighted with the deviation from the shrieking baselines, the mass of degenerates in the audience let out high pitched squeals in sync with Savage’s similarly childlike chorus. Just as quickly as the track came in Swing’s playful tone was replaced with the garbled vocals and wobbles of “First of the Year (Equinox).” Girls in the front row held up a makeshift flag displaying “CALL 911 NOW!” as Skrillex continued his saw-toothed onslaught. Pushing the set into familiar territory with the Bare Noize remix of “Harry” by Medison and a mashup of “My Name is Skrillex” with his own remix of Nero’s “Promises,” Sonny continued to steadily increase the already record breaking energy in the tent. The thumps of thousands of feet stomping in unison seemed louder than the gritty baseline on Knife Party’s remix of “Crush on You.”
TC – Where’s my Money (Caspa Remix) vs Savage – Swing (Fan Made Skrillex Bootleg)
Medison ft Skrein – Harry (Bare Noize Remix)
Nero – Crush on You (Knife Party Remix)
The throng of dubstep heads grew larger as the set continued, and some younger fans violently thrashed to “Ruffneck” until Ludacris’s familiar anthem “Move Bitch” interrupted the distorted kicks with some hip hop flavor. It’s impossible not to have a blast while screaming “Move Bitch!” with thousands of equally exhilarated fans and when Skrillex quickly transitioned into a slowed down, chopped up re-edit of Rusko’s “Hold On” we weren’t sure if the energy was going to be able to be topped… until the awful vocal stylings of early 90’s rapper/clown Bizmarkie could be heard over top of Amber Coffman’s gorgeous voice. The DJ Kool throwback “Let Me Clear my Throat” felt perfectly at home in the eclectic set.
The final 20 minutes of the set were relentless, taking the mayhem to epic heights. “Reptile’s Theme” was mashed flawlessly with “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” — a track that found a home in countless sets last weekend. The soothing vocals of “All I Ask of You” were interspersed throughout “Rock N Roll (Will Take You To the Mountain)” and when the infectious Afrojack bleeps of “Pon De Floor” could be heard from beneath the glitched-out beats, even the exhausted fans couldn’t help but throw their hands in the air and bounce.
Finishing out his set the way he had started — with a level of energy and ferocity unmatched all weekend, Sonny suddenly blasted “Kill Everybody” through the speakers followed by his own remix of i Square’s “Hey Sexy Lady” before finally shutting the ruckus down by moving back into “Cinema.”
As Skrillex descended from his platform at the Hilltop stage, it was as if everyone in the audience knew that they had just been part of the most lively and fun set of the entire weekend. Critics be damned, dubstep is pure, unadulterated, fun.