SKRILLEX live: a Step by (Dub)Step Review of the Mothership’s All-Ages Show in Vancouver

Let me take you on a journey through what it’s like to be the nearly most oldest person – someone who used to go to drum n’ bass shows “back in the day” and who saw Roni Size in ’98 – at an all-ages Skrillex show.

This is Skrillex, aka Los Angelino Sonny Moore. Isn’t he fucking adorable?


If you wanna know how important Skrillex is to Dubstep (and more on the genre), watch this video. Possibly the best dubstep parody EVER. And if you dig, definitely check out Part 1. Equally lolz.

Yeah, Kurt WAS in the Foo Fighters!

We show up at the PNE Forum – which is, by far, among the worst venues in Vancouver. It’s basically an airplane hangar hive of scum and villainy, with benches rammed so close to each other you have to walk on the ledges to get out, and a huge pit where you can imagine livestock. The kids in the queue to get in are absolutely munted and finishing off spliffs. It’s Skrillex’s only all-ages show of this tour and the second night in Van ( DUBSTEP CENTRAL OF CANADA, yo), and every suburbanite is stoned, or drinking from a mickey. It’s chaos. We get frisked and the girls are asked to take their glow sticks off. The “IMPORT” Beer (Heineken) is $7.50. Where did they import it from? THE MOON?

And it’s insanely LOUD. And I’m no loud-concert pussy. I’ve survived Dinosaur Jr., Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky. THIS, this is facemelting. See?

Caution, pic by Mikala Taylor/


So we go in, find a spot. Kids are gurning, sweating, falling over, turning pink around us. This is what a nation of dubsteppers inside a warehouse looks like (as seen via my shitty point and shoot):

Sea of kids, pic by Mikala Taylor/

So we chill out, bob our heads to 12th Planet, who ‘s got the kids going, and raising their lighters in the air while he bounces up and down waving his arms. It’s pretty straightforward dubstep: all whompwhompwhompwhompwobblewobble. Same with Knife Party – Gareth McGrillen and Rob Swire from Pendulum – who come on just before Skrillex. Their set’s good but a bit flatter, so we go out to the loos.

Oh yes. Let me tell you about the washrooms. Both of them. Well, actually six porta-potties and one set of women’s washrooms. FOR 2500 PEOPLE. Who are either drunk or “overhydrating” due to the crap Es they’re on. We end up standing in line for 45+ minutes and miss the beginning of Skrillex’s set. When I ask a security guard “How is this even legal?”, he replies: “Oh yeah, it’s totally against city bylaws.” Awesome. We head back in for Skrillex after celebrating two birthdays in the lineup, and go through the throngs of messy kids in fake black glasses.

Skrillex, pic by Mikala Taylor/

That’s the little sprite in the middle, in the midst of a truly awesome white hexagon-columned stage set, upon which amazing Tron-like graphics and geometric shapes swirled. And despite a review the night before that sorta prepped me for a dull knobtwiddling exercise (Skrillex! Pressing Play on his MacBook!, Sonny Moore was megabouncing back there in his white mothership. The little alien has landed!

Skrillex, pic by Mikala Taylor/

Looks really cool, right?

It was. The set list was equally blistering. Like, surprisingly so.

To wit: “I Wish You All the Luck of the World”, “Fucking Die”, “Kill Everybody, the punishing “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” (OHHHHHHH MYYYY GODDDDDD!), the call-and-response “My Name is Skrillex”, a ragga “Rude Boys,” and “DnB Ting”, “Rock and Roll (Will Take You To the Mountain)”, his remix of La Roux’s “In For the Kill” (what do you get when you mix a shrill singer with dubstep? MECHASHRILL), the really great sky-high version of Nero’s “Promises”,  a light remix of “Silver Dusk” (feat. Andre Visior) plus a cheese-tastic regular Skrillex-ed mix of Benny Bennassi’s “Cinema.” And more of course…

Skrillex, pic by Mikala Taylor/

And while we were dancin’ away, we noticed Knife Party’s Gareth and Rob below us, taking pics with fans. Gareth was clutching a bottle of Patron, putting stickers on blonde girls’ boobs and taking pictures of them, while Rob stood there, nodding to their patron on stage…

Knife Party with fans, pic by Mikala Taylor/

So I go down to talk to Rob. And by talking I mean, I tap out a message on my cellphone saying that I didn’t want to shout in his ear but Nice one! for the set. He takes my phone from me and taps out: “Thanks :)” and gives me the thumbs up. I like expeditious shmoozing.

Then it was back to admiring the set and the guy with the glasses. Best of the night? When he broke out ROBOTO SKRILLEX. Using  motion-capture technology, Skrillex’s robot friend appeared on the screen behind him, moving as he did.

Skrillex, pic by Mikala Taylor/

Now, watch the video. Ignore the bombastic fuzz of the crap sound. And check out the cool mo-cap, especially around 0:25…

Fucking ace, right? First time I’ve seen mo-cap used in a gig and I always love me a first, so way to go Skrillex! Apparently 2 Many DJs have also used something similar (using Arkaos software), and it was mesmerizing. And when Ironman Skrillex started waving his arms…well, awesome.

Skrillex, pic by Mikala Taylor/

So, yeah, Skrillex, you surprised me. Dubstep is still kinda ridiculous (sigh, find me the kids who know what drum and bass is), and you attracted a crowd of feral suburbanites tonight, but good on yer, man. I dig your anthemic trance touchpoints and that was a GREAT show. WOMPWOMPWOMPWOMPWOMP.\m/

Skrillex live at the PNE was brought to you by the letter D for Dubstep, and awesome dance promoters Blueprint Events. Reeeally wish I coulda shot this with a proper camera, but thanks!

One response to “SKRILLEX live: a Step by (Dub)Step Review of the Mothership’s All-Ages Show in Vancouver”

  1. Nice write up, what are you talkin’ bout’? your photos are great. Hell, you got Swire and McGrillen! how sweet is that! Thanks for the photos.

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