EDITORIAL: Why I Love Skrillex vs. Why This New Funny or Die Reggie Watts Video is Hilarious and True
Here I am at my new-ish standup desk this afternoon, drinking a large cup of coffee from the local coffee shop down the street (Bean There is my jam), and somehow feeling ambitious. Inspired if you will. A few recent events in my pop culture consuming social life have led me to this post, how a string of events just can seem to flow together to say, “you need to put that down on the blog, brah.” It’s titled “Why I Love Skrillex vs. Why This New Reggie Watts Funny or Die Video is Hilarious and True.”
I told you I was feeling ambitious. Read on for some sense of where I’m going with this…
See, it started up again for me last weekend when a close friend and someone who has an opinion in music I trust greatly finally said to me, “sooo….for real, you like Skrillex?” And judging from the amount of coverage on the blog and what I’ve said about him in the past to friends, I responded rather confidently, “yeah, I really kinda do.” His argument went something along the lines of he felt as though there wasn’t a whole lot of actual musical theory being applied to what’s happening in dubstep, especially Skrillex’s melodies, and that it left him feeling jarred by the whole thing. I can see that in a few instances of what he does, but at the same time to listen that closely might be missing the point on the whole thing.
One of the elements I’ve always strived to focus on with LMB is that element of pure fan elation that happens when you go see your favorite band at a concert or you discover some new band at a music festival. Sometimes the emotion and energy that you can get from the crowd you’re in, especially at a music festival or say a Phish concert — there is just nothing like it in the world. The sounds. The low end hitting your chest. The snare drum echoing through the night. These are the things we keep going out for, and from what I’ve seen and experienced myself (as well as what I’ve read about), Skrillex absolutely delivers this.
Back after SXSW, Stereogum published this great post called “In Defense of Skrillex:”
Skrillex, see, knows what he’s doing. He does what great DJs do: He layers sounds and ideas on top of each other, building tension and releasing it, moving fluidly from one thing to the next. Parts sounded like the sort of early-’90s hardcore techno that was popular with people who wore lots and lots of smiley faces. Other parts sounded like the sort of dark, broody late-’90s breakbeat techno that was popular with scary white guys with dreads. There was also a lot of robotic one-drop reggae in there. Early on, Skrillex played a big chunk of Damian Marley’s “Welcome To Jamrock” unmolested. Later, he dug out Ini Kamoze’s “World-A-Music,” the song that Marley sampled on “Jamrock.” All of it fit in seamlessly. None of it was built around bass-drops.
This video below is 10 minutes from his set at Ultra Music Festival earlier this year. Uploaded about three months ago and already at over 800K views…
Knowing what I know (a little bit) about music production and the software required to run this show, there is really nothing “awful” about any of this if you’re in the right mind to let yourself experience it for what it is. And yet we continue to see this sort of punnery around how Skrillex ruined dubstep…
Like this latest video from Funny or Die featuring a new Reggie Watts song / tribute called “Skrill The Hell Out of Here,” introduced in a 1950′s radio jockey style voice further driving the point home that this shit is too mainstream now…
It was just Friday night that I got to see Reggie Watts in action again after my first time seeing him at the Mezzanine earlier this year. Here’s what I had to say about it then:
he took us on an adventure through space and time with a vocal jam dedicated to tuberculosis, a Lord of the Rings inspired story of garbled language and funny made up words, and finally onto one of the best dubstep songs I’ve ever heard (using only his microphone and a looping pedal). It put everyone in the crowd into a nice frenzied sense of humor before heading off into the night, especially after that Phoenix dance-along.
That show was amazing, but this show on Friday exceeded all expectations yet again, especially when he busts out some beat-boxing with his stompbox and creates live dubstep-style loop jams. And sure enough, the video above just proves he sorta finds that a bit hilarious in some respect, while he’s resting a major portion of his set delivering some stripped down mainstream version of the WUB WUB WOMP WOMP PEW PEW that 19 year olds all over the country are eating up and humping trees to get closer to this vibe.
Yes, if Skrillex really loved dubstep, he would probably stop doing it and mix it up a little bit (as Reggie suggests). Because, yes, TV commercials really did start featuring dubstep jams…
And yes, unequivocally, that means that dubstep is dead. Soon it will be the stoner classic rock of old (Skrillex did a track with the Doors), or perhaps rap rock of yesteryear (Skrillex guests and produces heavily on the latest Korn album), or maybe even that latest thing that Saturday Night Live is parodying (like the dubstep drop in the Lazy Sunday 2 digital short that dropped a few weeks ago).
Whatever the case may be, it’s clear that there’s no stopping this phenomenon any time soon. Skrillex is taking the 1:30am slot on Which Stage at Bonnaroo this upcoming Saturday night, and he’s also heading to Outside Lands this year and on the lineup right behind Beck. He’s also returning to this year’s Camp Bisco, which has booked him a few times now. Oh and Bumbershoot, too.
Let’s see, what else….he just put out a new track with Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley:
He’s inspired a whole haircut fad, too…
Once Tumblr’s start popping up, you know you’re onto something.
I’ll say that while I know it’s not perfect and I’m not pretending to argue that this version of “bro” dubstep isn’t some passing fad, I’m just going out on an easy and strong limb here to say that I think it’s pretty rad at times. I dig like, at least 51% of that Ultra Music Festival video I posted above and I’ve actually gone back and back to one specific drop on occasion (the part at 4:30…so crunchy!). And this post confidently celebrates the fact that I can’t wait to see him at this year’s Outside Lands Music Festival… I will be tweeting that set so hard. Sorry but you can unfollow me now if that’s a problem…
Some “bands” have that power to bring me back to a groove or drop or melody or effect over and over again, and Skrillex is one of those artists that keeps me listening over and over again.
And back to my original point (kinda?), so is Reggie Watts. I think they’re both “right” about this dubstep bullshit anyway. I like it, but it also sucks. Where do you stand on it?
About the author
Justin Ward is the Editor at Live Music Blog and has been with the site from the very beginning. He currently lives in San Francisco and regularly tweets other stuff over @justinpward.
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