The last stop for the traveling Global Dance Festival was Saturday at the Royal Oak Music Theatre. Skrillex, Porter Robinson and Zedd performed to a packed crowd until about 2 a.m., finishing on "Happy Birthday” for Porter who'd just turned a sprightly 19.
Despite a late start, intensity stayed up most of the night, waning only toward the last few songs of Skrillex's headlining set. But the crowd’s energy peaked during Robinson's performance, the evening's best. Robinson skillfully rocked fan fave remixes and surprised those not wholly familiar with his work. Zedd’s opening was very good as well, lending progressive house and pop loops to the otherwise crushing dub-filled air.
Around midnight Deadmau5 protégé Skrillex got behind his laptop and let loose his brand of wavering dubstep. Starting strong, a portion of the audience began to lose interest as cuts became progressively more fragmented. Even semi-sober listeners noticed a couple off-tempo drops, and a rogue fan on stage clearly distracting the artist, at least for a few moments. The first few rows were unaffected, however, bobbing and nodding with hands up as a slew of go-go’s kept things visually stimulating (light show wasn’t bad either).
Skrillex’s crowd commands felt forced - at one point he asked the audience to get on the ground and all jump at the same time for footage for his DVD. “Come on, just do it. Don’t be too cool to do it.” But the crowd should be too cool to fake spontaneity for a promotional product. Concert-goer Megan Zakar wasn’t impressed. “Why is he stopping for this? I don’t want to hear his squirrely voice telling me what to do right now” she said.
The show's all-ages format was also off-putting to some adults. A good portion of the crowd was young, really young, like braces and lollipops young. It was a little bizarre to be spilling beers and cupping butt cheeks and look over and see an over-caffeinated 13-year-old jumping to see over shoulders next to you. At least at a show where drunken grown-ups came to enjoy the company of other weekend hedonists without a balcony full of chaperones and a parking lot full of waiting mini-vans. Dubstep is popular with kids, and it’s the kids who buy the music, but it’s still strange to see a middle-schooler catching a contact buzz in between two glow-stick chicks in their late 20s wearing stripper garb.
Minus the small stage hiccups and high prices on cheap booze, the show was well run. Cups of ice water were free, a smoking patio was available and security wasn’t all Gestapo. Saturday night was nice and loud, everyone got something they liked. Some were fed things they didn’t like so much, but nothing to break the concert experience as a whole.
Here's a clip from the opening of Skrillex's set:
Skrillex performs next the 19th in Ibiza, Porter Robinson and Zedd the 22nd in Edmonton.