Skrillex at The 1st Bank Center: October 31, 2011 (Halloween): Review

He, by far, has one of the coolest and most game-changing stage sets I’ve ever been able to see. By now, some of you may have heard about his motion-tracking system, but hearing about and seeing it live is another thing. Skrillex’s stage is a giant white backdrop with 3D six-side pillars attached to it. This backdrop is bookended by two giant LED screens. Some rather large (and probably very expensive) projectors back at the soundstage put on a spectacle that adds a visual element to the show that could stand on its own. The screen continually presents a story that molds itself and evolves to everything that Skrillex lays down. Occasionally, the projectors display a character on the screen that not only fits the mood of the song being spun, but also tracks the every movement that Skrillex makes. If he is bouncing to the music, so do the characters behind him. If he throws his hands up asking for more from the crowd (which they were more than willing to give) then the giant robotic character behind him demands the same. I came to this show expecting to have a good time listening to most of the songs I could hear on a Skrillex Pandora station. And while Skrillex did play a version of most of these songs, I not only was privileged to hear them live, but I felt them with every bass drop, and saw them come to life on the screen in a way I’ve never seen any other show successfully complete.

I think the most exciting thing for me is that Skrillex is only 23 years old and has already made his stamp in the industry. He provides his own take on a genre that influences so many other up and comers. Castro and I have already begun talking about our Top Shows of 2011, and not to give away too much, as we still have another couple months of awesome show coming up, but this is definitely a top contender for me.

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 1. Work To Do- Isley Bros
This one features my live band, The County: Quentin Joseph on drums, Topher Mohr on guitar, Quincy McCrary on piano, and Joe Abrams on bass. It was recorded live in a radio station studio somewhere during our Winter 2010 US tour. The tapes recently surfaced, but nobody can remember exactly where we were. The song is originally by The Isley Brothers, and that's the only version I was familiar with until we started playing it in our live shows and people would come up to us and say "hey, loved your cover of Average White Band!".

2. Don't Turn The Lights On- Chromeo
My favorite track from Chromeo's latest LP. On the surface it's an electro-funk, dance floor filler, but underneath is a brilliant love ballad with lyrics that reminded me of something from Tyrone Davis. Dave1 (of Chromeo) told me the song is about a guy who falls in love with a ghost, so I wanted my version to have an eerie, ghostly feel to it. Quincy McCrary played the creepy piano solo at the end.

3. You've Got The Makings Of A Lover- The Festivals
Textbook Northern Soul from a little known Dallas, Texas group called The Festivals. I was digging for records in NY with my homey DJ Kurse, and the shopkeeper played the 45 in the store. Both of us immediately ran up to the counter and said "yo! what is THAT?!". The original version was recorded in the late 60s, and the mix isn't very good. I wanted a version that I could bump. Quentin Joseph played the drums and we recorded them at Sam Beaubien's studio in Detroit. That's Sam playing the trumpet as well.

4. Fantasy Girl - Steve Salazar
This song was written and composed by an amazing man from Pasadena named Steve Salazar. He was born with a heart condition and passed away at the young age of 27. Before he died he recorded one incredible album of demos in the mid-70s with a band called Shorty's Portion. Peanut Butter Wolf found a copy of the album and I loved it so much that he gave it to me (thanks Wolf!). The vinyl had a handwritten note tucked in the sleeve that was addressed to anyone who could help the band with management, a record deal, radio airplay, etc. I'd estimate there were less than 300 copies pressed. That's my Dad playing pedal steel guitar on my version.

5. Little Person- Jon Brion
Jon Brion is not from this planet. He penned this song for the soundtrack to Charlie Kaufman's film "Synecdoche, NY". I didn't get the film at all, but I really got the soundtrack. The original has only female vocal and piano, but I always heard a larger arrangement. Hubert Alexander played some of the piano and I did everything else.

6. Mr. Blue Sky- ELO
This one also features my band, The County, and was recorded live, in one take, in a tiny makeshift tent, at a festival in Dour, Belgium.