Skrillex, Alvin Risk, Koan Sound, Dan Sena
Better than… Seeing Skrillex at a festival
Skrillex's six night hometown tour began yesterday, when the local boy-done-good held court before a sold out crowd at Cinespace. It might have seemed like an unusual venue choice; he normally plays for thousands at festivals, while Cinespace is an intimate spot where you often catch DJs hanging out at the bar.
But the Hollywood venue — home to Dim Mak's famed Tuesday night parties — strongly influenced a young Sonny Moore back in the mid-'00s. As he noted last night, without the party and its founder Steve Aoki, there wouldn't be a Skrillex.
The crowd was definitely psyched for this homecoming. Skrillex played in the back room, aka Dim Mak Studios, and filled every possible crevice. Arms flailed at the DJ/producer's command and perspiration filled the air when he opened with “Breakn' a Sweat,” the track he did with the surviving members of The Doors for the documentary Re:Generation.
Meanwhile, in the lounge, a handful of people danced in on a nearly empty floor as Skrillex's set was projected on the walls of the room. As with most of his gigs, he spliced together his own music with others' tracks. Typically, he likes to tease the crowd with snippets of his monster hit “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” long before he plays it. Indeed, last night he worked in some clips of the tune shortly after his 12:30 a.m. start time, but didn't actually drop it until just before 2.
Still, Skrillex's set has changed a bit since I last saw him at HARD Haunted Mansion last year. Though he never really stuck with one style, he seemed a little less focused on dubstep this time, playing around with more bouncy beats and working a good amount of hip-hop into his set.
A gorgeous, ethereal mix of Nero's dance floor staple “Promises” wove together nicely with a reworking of “My Name is Skrillex.” Similarly, “Cinema,” the Benny Benassi track that he remixed to much fanfare, offered a moment of respite in an otherwise intense set. Moving between his own tracks with some surprises like Flo Rida's “Good Feeling” (on the heels of the passing of Etta James, who is sampled on the track) and Fatman Scoop's “Be Faithful.”
Alvin Risk warmed up the crowd right before Skrillex took the stage. I first caught the up-and-comer opening at Nero last December. He showed a lot of potential then, but, one month later and with a better time slot in a smaller venue, he turned up the star power. Risk has an adorable nerd look, wearing a pullover sweater and glasses, and enough dance moves to really hype up the crowd.
Also on the bill were Koan Sound and Dan Sena. When I talked to Skrillex for his L.A. Weekly cover story last September, he seemed really excited to be releasing Koan Sound's work on his own label, OWSLA. There's a good reason for that. The duo from Bristol, U.K. is one of the shining lights of the EDM scene right now. They play hard, hip-hop inspired beats with a dose of dubstep and a pinch of drum n' bass.
Dan Sena, a Southern California producer who has worked with Dim Mak, had the night's opening spot. He performed with a live drummer who was strong enough to make the light rig at the side of the stage shake. The set was interesting, but it seemed like there were technical issues with merging a live drummer with computer-based productions. In a nutshell, the drums consistently overpowered the rest of the music, sometimes to the point where you had to strain to catch the melodies.
Professional bias: Skrillex's songs get stuck in my head a lot.
The crowd: Dim Mak Tuesdays regulars, Skrillex fans and, most importantly, Party Panda.
Random notebook dump: The only thing more difficult than getting to the center of the crowd was getting out of the crowd.