Skrillex really did have a magnificent-looking, ascending space ship. I also liked the multi-colored fire.
Thing is after two weekends of losing the battle for hearts and minds to Eminem, it’s safe to declare that Skrillex (real name: Sonny Moore) is not quite there as a Austin City Limits headlining commodity. Blame the bully opposite his Honda Stage Saturday night slot; his frequent visits to Austin; maybe the rise and saturation of ACL DJ options (Calvin Harris, Zedd, Chromeo, Glitch Mob, Major Lazor). Whatever the root cause, for the second weekend in a row his crowd–though full of intense dancing from the converted–was thin enough to walk into and get all the way forward. It’s much easier to do so when the lawn chair syndicate has long packed up and migrated.
"How can you listen to this and not dance?" a Skrillex sympathizer asked during a particularly heavy bass drop.
"I’m writing this up later. I’m working," I replied.
"That sounds too sober."
The Skrillex fan’s remarks were throwaway and meant well, but resonant given the underlying tragedy of ACL 2014: the death of 21-year-old Texas State student Jessica Hunter from a Molly overdose. She and her group of friends took a "bad" batch of Ecstasy. All suffered nasty side effects. I’ve been an apologist for the EDM genre as a welcome and vital ACL , but it’s a scene with undeniably concrete links to recreational use of Ecstasy and Molly.
This is, of course, not Skrillex’s fault. But the fatalistic air raid set Saturday was difficult to blindly enjoy. It doesn’t help that the concert felt half-Vegas night club, half-fatalistic teen prom dance floor. It was tracks for people that think "Family Guy" is funny (as evidenced by his "Peanut Butter Jelly Time" remix). It was for folks not tired of dancing to Disclosure’s "Latch," or that think "Lion King" pop cultural checks are interesting.
Skrillex, artistically, has made a living from digging through defunct sounds that conveniently died out around 2009. Specifically British dubstep and producers like Digital Mystiks, Plastician, Loefah, Rusko, Martin Doorly. He added loud noises and has gone top shelf. Lucky for him, there will always be someone willing to pay for Grey Goose and Patrón’s prestigious packaging.