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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Show Review: Skrillex, Wolfgang Gartner, Madeon, A-Trak

Nicolo Nicollo Paganini




















SHOW REVIEW
I LOVE THIS CITY FESTIVAL
@ The Cricket Wireless (TM) Ampitheatre in Chula Vista, CA.
May 27th, 2012
Skrillex
Wolfgang Gartner
Madeon
A-Trak
& Others

  Watching Skrillex perform last night reminded my of a passage about violinist and proto-celebrity Nicolo (or "Nicollo") Paganini in Henry Raynor's  A Social History of Music,

   "Paganini reached Vienna in 1828, the year after Beethoven's death.  He was a physical wreck; in addition to acute and sometimes crippling digestive troubles and a nervously over intense temperament, he suffered from tuberculosis.  He did not even look like other men; he was emaciated to the point at which that it seemed as thought he wore clothes to keep his skeleton from falling apart; black eyes glittered from a yellow-skinned, cadaverous face on each side of which hung long, lank black hair.  His platform manner added to his strangeness; he bowed stiffly, like a marionette whose strings had suddenly been released, and he walked in a peculiarly stiff, wide-legged way.  Of course, he played the violin as it had never been payed before; his G string had an effective range of three octave, and he produced harmonics the like of which were unheard of.  His varieties of bowing and his left-hand pizzicato were equally new." (1)

  Here is a picture of Skrillex, who headlined Clear Channel Live Nation's novel I Love This City Festival at the Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre last night.

Skrillex or Sunny Moore

















     Here are the similarities between Raynor's desscription of Nicolo Nicollo Paganini circa 1825 and Skrillex,

(A)  PAGANINI: He was a physical wreck; in addition to acute and sometimes crippling digestive troubles and a nervously over intense temperament, he suffered from tuberculosis.
SKRILLEX: Moore left the band in February 2007 to pursue his own unique music career after considerable damage to his vocal cords that required surgery.


(B) PAGANINI: Black eyes glittered from a yellow-skinned, cadaverous face on each side of which hung long, lank black hair.
SKRILLEX:  Has long, lank black hair and an unnaturally pale face.

(C) PAGANINI:   He played the violin as it had never been payed before; his G string had an effective range of three octaves, and he produced harmonics the like of which were unheard of.  His varieties of bowing and his left-hand pizzicato were equally new.
SKRILLEX:   Much of the novelty and effectiveness of Skrillex's music can be attributed to his ability to introduce sounds that are both higher and lower then the normal range that an Audience can hear at other Popular Music events.  Skrillex (and other Artist) ability to harness the Sub bass and sped-up samples vocals for melodic effect   Skrillex's use of his body and "instruments" during performance are equally "new" (for the Audience at a Skrillex concert.)

  Raynor's conclusion about Nicolo Nicollo Paganini is equally applicable to understanding Skrillex both as an Artist and a larger cultural Phenomenon,

  "To understand Paganini's influence on the course of music, it is not only necessary to not the expansion of technique which, notwithstanding the doubts of old-fashioned musicians, provided the entire string orchestra, as well as the violin, with a vast expansion of their vocabulary, it is also essential to consider the personality which gave rise to the highly coloured (sic)  legends and made him a figure of wonder and terror; the sense of the dangerous, the uncanny and superhuman which he imposed on his audiences was not only a valid part of the romantic atmosphere of the period; it was also a potent influence on new audiences and on a vast number of his successors."  (2)

  Much of the critical discussion of Skrillex takes place in the pressure chamber of pop-music criticism, where the underlying "Artistry" of the Artist is continually examined and re-examined.  I would argue that any discussion has to grant Skrillex's status as a legitimate Artist, if only because of the size of his Audience and his similarity with other notable Artists of the past.
 
    The Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre has a capacity of 19,492 people. (3)  The venue was not full, but a half full 20 thousand person arena is 10 thousand people.   The Audience of Skrillex, or a Skrillex-like Artists is always a matter of concern to the Critic.  When a legitimate popular Artist emerges it is customary for the Critic to criticize the Audience for its lack of taste.   I think what is more important is simply to note that the Audience for a specific Artist does exist, and to be able to quantify that size.   Last night, the Audience in San Diego, was around ten thousand.   That is a significantly sized Audience, and it demonstrates that Skrillex has dedicated fans in the high hundreds of thousands or perhaps low millions.

    The I Love This City SD festival was a production of Clear Channel and Live Nation, who used to be one company but are now two companies. The Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre may be as soul-less and corporate a venue as exists on the entire planet, but it is a venue with a capacity of 19,492, so more people get to see a concert then would otherwise be possible.

   The last time I went to the Cricket Wireless Ampitheatre was for the 91x Fest maybe circa 2007?  It has not changed at all.  Literally the worst place in the world to see a concert, but what can you do.  It has a twenty thousand person capacity.

DJ A Trak














  I arrived in time to catch the majority of A-Trak's set at the I Love This City Fest SD.  I saw A Trak in Seattle in about 2002, and I can say that he is still doing the same bits, including his famous "Robot Rock" scratching routine.   Here he is doing his Daft Punk Robot Rock routine at Lollapalooza in 2009, and I saw it five years earlier.  Since he was first and it was a totally pleasant San Diego Sunday Afternoon, I was content to sit and watch him do his (same) thing.

Madeon




















     Next up was 17 year old French PHENOM Madeon.  My guest for the show was my wive's 19 year old French cousin- big Skrillex fan, and she said she saw him play in Nancy France in front of about 200 people the year before.  WELCOME TO THE BIG TIME KID!  You can check out a good part of his set over on his SOUNDCLOUD profile, and it's worth a listen even for casual EDM fans.   He has a fresh sound and his appearance on the bill was mark on the good side for Clear Channel/Live Nation- one of the few marks on that side of the ledger.  He killed.  Seventeen year old kid.

    Immediately prior to Skrillex's headlining set was Wolfgang Gartner. His wikipedia entry makes him sound like a carpet bagging douche bag, but the set I heard last night was heavier then I would expect from the Wikipedia entry, and according to my wifes cousin, included a new cut from Skrillex HIMSELF.  BOOM.

  Headlining, and taking the stage precisely at 9:30 PM- way to go Live Nation on that one ha ha, was the man himself Skrillex.  When I say that 100% of the crowd had bought its ticket to see headlining Artist Skrillex, I mean 100%.  Keep in mind this is in theory a "Festival."  Yeah, sort of, the Festival of Skrillex maybe.   To make outrageous claims like Skrillex is somehow derivative of Justice or Daft Punk is like saying that Elvis is just doing a Chuck Berry routine.  I mean you can say it, but it is outrageous and ignores much of what actually constitutes an Artistic identity.

  All I can say is that Skrillex's audience, few of whom looked like seasoned EDM veterans, were 10 thousand strong and went bonkers during the show.  I thought the Bro dancing next to me was going to elbow me in the face.   Now, this wasn't a crowd of fifty or a hundred thousand like you might get at a European Summer Festival for a house or trance music DJ, but it was remarkable in it's own right, simply due to the economic and cultural diversity of the Audience.

  It's funny, because as a Fan I've lived through Drum and Bass, Big Beat, the rise of the epic house and trance DJ's like Tiesto that could plausibly headline the Coachella festival.  I've boogied down in the Sahara tent in six of the past seven years, and seen the members of Justice DJ a sweaty French club in the outer arriondissements in front of a hundred people.   I went to the Metalheadz drum and bass club and Minstry of Sound in London in 2007,  I've stumbled out into the cold of a Washington DC rave club at 6 in the morning, I've been to a show by a Detroit Techno pioneer held in the lobby of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but I ain't never, and I mean never, seen an Audience react like this Audience reacted to Skrillex last night.  If last night proves anything it's that Skrillex is a legitimate popular music phenomenon.
 




NOTES

(1)  Raynor, Henry A Social Historyr of Music Since 1815, pg. 55
(2)  Id at 58.
(2)  WIKIPEDIA ENTRY ON CRICKET WIRELESS AMPITHEATRE

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