Skrillex blasts the NYS Fairgrounds

The DJ bumped booming bass at the Center of Progress Building just outside Syracuse.

Right before he went on, stage crew tore down the black curtain obstructing the mysterious white structure that would house Skrillex for his set Tuesday at the New York State Fairgrounds.

The icy castle-looking fortress with an embedded stage in front towered above the crowd. Angular shapes protruded from each side of the stage, contributing to the futuristic feel. But it wass when Skrillex finally fired up his Macbook that things started to get interesting.

A spaceship, aliens and other extraterrestrial imagery projected onto the backdrop. A few songs in, a motion-captured representation of Skrillex’s movements were depicted as a colossal alien silhouette.

And if the visuals sound overwhelming, Skrillex’s signature booming low-end bass was almost overbearing in the cavernous Center for Progress Building.

Over 4,000 people danced, incessantly bounced up and down and improvised adrenaline-fueled limb movements to Skrillex’s unique brand of pulsating bass drops. The entire 71,000-square-foot building, used a few months earlier to house huge agriculture displays at the New York State Fair, packed an audience that was equal parts Ed Hardy and Hot Topic snugly into the huge, open dance floor.

“Tonight, we’re all friends,” Skrillex shouted from the stage as concertgoers held up lighters, cellphones and glow sticks to commemorate his Mothership Tour landing in Syracuse. Also known as Sonny Moore, formerly the frontman of the post-hardcore band From First to Last, Skrillex bumped up the capacity for this show after playing at the Westcott Theater last February.

His set mixed popular favorites “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” and “First of the Year” with remixes of songs “Welcome to Jamrock” by Damian Marley and even “Big Poppa” by Notorious B.I.G. But, all of his songs featured bass drops that shook the entire building, varying from peppy club beats to slower, calculated dubstep beats.

Though the bass sounded low and full, the mid and high-range tones echoed in the vast openness of the building. This was mildly distracting from the performance, but the crowd seemed mainly concerned with buildups and bass drops, so it didn’t have much of an overall impact.

The futuristic visuals throughout the set complemented the techy, metallic sound of Skrillex’s breakdowns. He even premiered an unnamed new song, which featured the lowest rumbling bass of the night while Skrillex stood in front of an image of what seemed to be a Transformer’s chestplate.

The crowd loved every minute— only stopping periodically to rest before continuing another long haul of dancing and thrashing. Skrillex’s tunes rarely relented, and kept driving steady, punchy bass to the crowd, who had no complaints. An overwhelming majority of the crowd came specifically for this reason, and was pleased with Skrillex’s club-techno leanings in his live set.

The result was Skrillex professing his love for Syracuse the only way the jet-black haired, hipster-framed glasses sporting artist could.

“This was seriously one of my favorite shows in my entire life,” Skrillex shouted after his set, jumping on opener 12th Planet’s back and coercing him to chaffeur him around the stage.

But, however effective Skrillex’s aesthetic overload was during his hour-plus set, it was painfully obvious that he was in a different class than the openers.

The bass-hungry crowd waited almost three hours to get their first taste of dubstep, as the first act, Nadastrom featured two DJs sporting red solo cups and an itchy trigger finger on the generic techno siren sound, played uninspired original club mixes to a lukewarm reception.

Next up was hip-hop jam band Two Fresh, who added a Macbook and a live drummer to fill out its live sound. The band added a dynamic with the live drummer and hip-hop and reggae influenced dance rhythms, but ultimately fell flat as songs came equipped without calculated bass drops and buildups and instead focused on slowly developing songs and rhythms.

After them, the first dubstep-influenced DJ and Skrillex warm-up 12th Planet ignited the crowd. His first dubstep drop struck a chord with the crowd, who became reanimated. 12th Planet mixed club techno with dubstep sensibilities to create the best of both worlds and involved everyone in the diverse crowd.

In the dim lighting, it was hard to tell who had tattoos and who was wearing body paint, though there was an equal mix of each. There was an even dichotomy with all-black clothing and fluorescent colors, groups of college students dressed in white shirts with body paint and groups of people with tattoos and a handful of face piercings. The diverse crowd brought a different dynamic to the show, and breathed personality into a show about expressing oneself through dance.

And it’s safe to say that those who went to the Skrillex show came for mainly one reason— to be sledgehammered with bass.

“When the beat drops, you know if you’ll like it or not,” said a neon, traffic-vest green shirt sporting teenager from behind plastic sunglasses outside the show.

Most liked it. So much so, in fact, that 12th Planet also declared Syracuse’s prominence on the Mothership Tour’s circuit.

“Swear to God, this is the best show of the entire tour,” he said.

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