Even on Hump Day, attendees of Skrillex’s amazing Wednesday (October 27) night show at Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner got quite the extra pep in their step to close out the week strong before the city’s Halloween festivities commence this weekend.
The show, opened by scene mainstay Wax Motif and rising DJ/producer/designer Noodz, was announced just two weeks ago, on October 12. Presale and general admission tickets both sold out immediately. On the venue’s social media, comments were filled with people seeking to buy tickets, or to scalp the tickets they had just bought. Many voiced despair at how quickly the tickets sold, comparing the purchase process to trying to grab a pair of hyped sneakers
The frenzy was warranted, as last night’s set was Skrillex’s first solo set in the U.S. since the beginning of the pandemic. It was his first time back in New York City since he closed down Webster Hall for a packed house in 2017. (He did also play a set at Electric Zoo 2019 with his Boys Noize collaboration Dog Blood.)
At 9:15 pm, Noodz took the stage and played an hour long set to an already large crowd at Avant Gardener’s sizable indoor space, skillfully traversing genres including hip-hop, trap, garage, house and a little throwback surprise. “Who’s ready for spooky season?! I only have thirty minutes left but let’s throw it back!” she shouted to the crowd, before launching into a bunch of pop-punk hits — with the crowd shouting every word to Fall Out Boy’s 2005 classic “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” before the set ended.
Wax Motif seamlessly transitioned onto the decks at 10:15 p.m., shifting the music to the garage and bass house for which the Australian DJ/producer is known. He played until 11:30 p.m. and turned the VIP section, where the vibe can often be pretty dead, into a place where people grooved and moved to the thumping sounds of grungy bass house reverberating across the space. There was in fact so much grooving that several drinks were sacrificed at the hands of shuffling dancers, creating a nice splash zone on the elevated viewing platform.
By 11:30 pm, the moment the 3,000-person crowd had been waiting for had come. Skrillex stepped onto the stage and took control of the dance floor immediately as the lights dimmed, with cheers and a palpable sense of excitement erupting across the venue. Phones filled the air as fans recorded the intro to his adrenaline-packed two-hour set. A low-pitched voice recording greeted everyone with “good evening, and welcome to this, your worst nightmare” — an announcement that was immediately followed by a mischievous cackle and scream, which then transitioned into the now-famous Squid Game theme song.
This Squid Game jam then melded into a track repeating “Shout out to the deck,” as the lights turned red and began flashing. After 18 months of empty venues, it was incredible to see and feel how crowded the Great Hall was. At times, the space felt like a packed New York City train during rush hour, particularly in terms of how challenging it was to traverse the venue.
Skrillex looked happy to be playing and appeared to be having a blast on stage, where he occasionally stood on the DJ table to hyped up the crowd to jump and go wild. He was dressed in a plain white t-shirt, dark green pants and white sneakers. His hair was in sort of a ponytail and he was accompanied by his photographer Marilyn Hue, who took videos of him for the duration of the show. The stage was also filled with tons of industry folks, friends, and family including fellow artists Slander, WAVEDASH, Anamanaguchi, Pluko, and Memba — who all danced along to the artist they clearly hold great respect for. It was nice to observe.
Jersey club was, hands down, the overarching musical theme of Skrillex’s set. He of course also played his dubstep classics like “Bangarang,” “Summit,” and “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” as well as his remix of “Cinema,” during which he brought the song’s producer Benny Benassi on stage for the drop.
When he played 2012’s “Make It Bun Dem,” the lights in the venue turned green, red, and yellow to fit the reggae-inspired dubstep track. As an expert of reading the crowd and knowing how to gracefully control the mood of a room, Skrillex dipped in and out of hard-hitting dubstep and bass music, to Jersey club, to “calmer” music to give people a chance to breathe, during a set where the gas pedal mostly seemed to be held down by a brick.
Skrillex’s 2016 Rick Ross collab “Purple Lamborghini” and his remix of Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” were absolute slappers that invigorated the people to keep going. He played his recent J Balvin collab “In Da Getto” two times, once in the beginning and later in the middle of the performance, when he mixed it into a different song. The mashups were also great, including “Face My Fears” into “Kyoto,” with the drop of the former replaced by the latter’s hard-hitting climax.
Lights beamed across the venue in rhythmic fashion, and the lasers shooting in tandem with the heart-pumping drops made the absence of typical onscreen visuals an afterthought. As the show came to a close at 1:30 a.m., Skrillex stood up on stage one last time, waving his hands as if inviting fans to go hard once more, then grabbing the mic and shouting out “Two thousand twenty one, I wanna see everyone’s f–king hands in the sky, let’s go! Let’s go!” as the drop of “Midnight Hour” offered one last sonic thrill.
Once the lights turned on and everyone’s sweaty bodies came into full view, Skrillex ran across the pit and did a wave of high-fives to fans at the rail. These hardcore fans may have gotten to physically make contact with him, but with Skrillex returning to the stage with full force, everyone in attendance last night felt his power.