September 2, 2014

Road Report: Skrillex Slays, Red Bull Thre3style Heats Up

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Skrillex blew the roof off the Georgia Theatre. © Elliott Anderson

Skrillex blew the roof off the Georgia Theatre. © Elliott Anderson

Vancouver, B.C. Before we jetted off to the Pacific Northwest for the Red Bull Thre3style World Finals, we spent the weekend down south—way down south, in fact—for a variety of DJ-related activities. It went something like this:

First up this past Thursday, Dec. 7, was Miami Beach for Pioneer Electronics’ worldwide launch of its MIXTRAX technology at South Beach mega-club, Mansion. Proudly rooted in DJ culture and inspired by the advances developed by Pioneer’s DJ division, MIXTRAX creates a non-stop mix (with effects and more) for Pioneer car audio products and Steez mobile/digital playback units. And Pioneer’s presentation gave mad props to the emerging influence of the DJ on the consumer world. Respect—always nice to see.

Then, we headed up to Athens, Ga., to catch the Mothership Tour land at the Georgia Theatre. Featuring Skrillex, 12th Planet (whom we interviewed before the gig), Two Fresh and Nadastrom, the Dec. 10 tour stop once again demonstrated how massive bass-oriented music has become. In a town known for its legendary live-music scene, these four EDM acts sold out the joint nearly four months prior to the gig.

Of course, everyone was there to see Skrillex and he didn’t disappoint—in fact, he tore the roof off the sucker. The five-time Grammy nominee dropped a quaking 90-minute set that saw those on the tightly packed Theatre floor launching or lurching to every massive drop—and the mindbending video projections ratcheted the energy to near-scary heights. By the time Skrillex finished up with his blazing new mix of Avicii’s “Levels,” his own “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and his mix of Benny Benassi’s “Cinema,” many in the crowd looked as if they’d been run over by a bread truck—just spent. And then there was the afterparty—but that’s another story. (Thanks to Georgia Theatre owner Wilmot Greene for the hospitality.)

Now that we’ve touched down in Vancouver, we’re all set for Friday’s semi-final round of the Red Bull Thre3style World Championships. At Club 560, we’ll see national champions from Chile, France, New Zealand, Peru and USA go at it. The winner will round out the field of four for Saturday night’s Final at the Commodore Ballroom.

Before Thursday night’s semi-final (featuring champs from Colombia, Denmark, Japan, Switzerland and U.K.), we caught a dinner with American champ Big Once (aka Chicago’s Ian Osborne), who told us that the early rounds have served as inspiration for him. In particular, he heaped praise on India’s DJ Dippy, who burned up a pair of CDJs in his Wednesday night set. Although he didn’t win—Canada’s Hedspin advanced, ultimately joining Brazil’s Nedu Lopes and Switzerland’s DJ Bazooka in the Finals—Dippy’s set fired his imagination.
“I’ve never seen anyone work the CDJs like that,” said Osborne, himself a Serato jock. “He was doing all the tricks you do on traditional turntables—beat-juggling, the whole nine. That guy was really impressive.”

We’ll see how that inspiration translates onstage Friday night, as Big Once takes on the international competition in the home of the 2010 Winter Olympics. More to come.

– Jim Tremayne