Entering London’s evocative Electric Ballroom last night (Jan. 5), we surpassed a queue snaking down two blocks of Camden High Street. The space, which opened in 1978 and typically hosts live acts, suited the surprise event surprisingly well. Perched on the balcony above, we had a clear view to overlook the interaction between the three rather unexpected friends on the bill: Skrillex, Four Tet and Fred again...
We arrived at 9 p.m. and the crowd was already oozing peak-time enthusiasm. The excitement was obvious, and rightly so — the show had sold out within 10 minutes of being announced via the artists’ Instagram stories hours before the show. (Rather adorably, Fred also posted a story of himself slipping into Skrillex’s hotel yesterday and waking up the sleeping producer, who’d just arrived from L.A., so he could get up and post the event to his own IG.)
There was no support act last night, just a four hour back-to-back between the three artists. Together, the trio have a web of collaborations between them — with U.K. master Four Tet working on Fred again..’s June 2022 track “Jungle” and the 2021 Skrillex and Starrah collab “Butterflies,” and the dance scene’s premier ascendent star Fred collaborating with Skrillex on “Rumble,” released the day before the show (Jan. 5) as the Skrillex hype machine fires to life ahead of his forthcoming album.
Last night, the collision of the three artists’ styles was apparent from the jump; throughout the night you could confidently guess who was behind the selection of each track.
The hosts regularly interacted with the eager, Thursday night crowd, checking in by throwing a singular cordless mic between each other. At one point, Fred jumped on to the mic to ask, “Do you all have enough room to dance?” His rhetorical question was answered by squeals and screams — not dissimilar to hysterical fans at a boy band concert. The sea of people rippled as one, as people stayed put on the dancefloor for the entire set.
At around 9.30pm, a vocal from Disney’s Frozen‘s famous “Let It Go” was laid over the familiar growls and thrums of Skrillex’s signature sound. This was a foreshadowing of the rest of the evening; after all, this clash of styles was bound to present the dancers with some curveballs — we came knowing to expect the unexpected. With the crowd putty in their hands from early on, the three DJs made the most of their playful selections.
Skrillex, a.k.a. Sonny Moore, was bounding around the stage during the performance, hyping up the crowd from the table that also hosted the decks. Below him, Fred and Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) slinked between each other, achieving almost seamless transition between their staple sounds.
The crowd fizzed when any Fred again.. tune was about to be brought in. It perfectly demonstrated his fans’ loyal and impressive knowledge of his back catalogue; tracks such as “Hannah (the sun)” and “Strong” were warmly received. Phone screens peaked up through the sea of heads, as everyone wanted to capture their favorite Fred track.
Four Tet’s recognizable, ethereal vocals blended with grinding bass excited the older, headsier side of the crowd — as the Skrillex sound brought the millennials in the audience right back to our teenage years. This was certainly a whirlpool of old and new, a melting pot of sounds and cultures, a combination of flamboyant American excitement and quiet British confidence. Skrillex even informed the crowd that he had put some money behind the bar, making it very apparent they were hosting what felt like a huge house party.
Bringing us back to the present day, PinkPantheress’ TikTok hit “Just for Me” caused a wave of joy, teased ahead of the release of Skrillex’s own collaboration with the U.K. star and Trippie Redd, “Way Back,” which landed last night as the show was happening. Although many may recognize Skrillex as an artist who was an early influence for many current dance fans, this new release further demonstrates his ability to evolve successfully and authentically, collaborating with fresh and exciting talent here across the pond.
Whether this unlikely trio continue their seemingly unstoppable ascent, or if yesterday’s event was just one of those crazy nights of legend, the collective fanbase of these three huge acts is indisputable. In an age where artists can interact with their fans more closely than ever before, there was a knowing intimacy between the audience and the three conductors that felt like a new wave of dance music fandom.
Fred again…, “Hannah (the Sun)“
Eskuche, “Passion” (Extended Mix)
Hamdi , “Never Let You Go Edit” (Original by Sammy Virji)
Romy & Fred again.., “Strong“
KH, “Looking at Your Pager”
Hackney Parrot, “Tessela” (Remix)
PinkPantheress, “Just for Me“
Adam F, “Circles” (Pola & Bryson Bootleg)
Fred again.., Four Tet & Skrillex, “Baby Again..“
Fred again.., “Jungle”
Skrillex, Fred again.. & Flowdan, “Rumble”