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Skrillex And Diplo At Madison Square Garden, New Year”s Eve 2014, Reviewed

so long 2014

so long 2014

It was forty minutes into 2015 when Diplo announced “This is nothing but a house party.” Actually, it was nothing but a rave and had been since Electro Claw opened the Madison Square Garden New Year’s Eve celebration at 8pm last night. Not a bad rave, with two of the biggest names in EDM, Skrillix and Diplo, headlining it wasn’t going to be a disaster, but with one of the biggest rappers and one of the best EDM bands, opening, it should have been better.
The thing is, for reasons undoubtedly to do with maximum impact, the MSG LCDs weren’t turned on till midnight, this meant not only was the room darker than it needed to be but also any chance of checking out the DJs hand movements were impossible; if you were there for the music, try again. Maybe five years ago, I was at a house party where Afrobeats were performing and standing to his side, I watched him manipulate tapes, beats, volumes, and the thing about EDM is when you watch a great DJ perform it is like watching a great guitarist take a solo and it is all in the hands and when you can’t see… No wait, much like EDM this review suffers from ADD.

The body search to get into MSG made Air Israel look like Amtrak, they stole my packet of Tic Tacs, and considering the minimal clothing options of some of the audience member, there didn’t seem anywhere to hide anything, it also seemed like a waste of time.  What was Dolan so worried about, the worst bomb in MSG didn’t have a game?

First up was Yellow Claw. Two DJs and an MC who doesn’t rap, playing in a very dark Arena their half hour set was fine but no more. More troubling was Rudimental, the simply great EDM hybrid soul band. Terrific live and with some great songs, the band played behind the DJ booth on a long horizontal stage filled with singers and skankers. Still no closed circuit TV. What a pity, the 45 minute set was fine with Ella Eyre on stage for “Waiting All Night”, a rousing “Feel The Love” and the highlight of the entire evening, a roaring “Hit The Road Jack”, we should have actually seen it.

A$AP Ferg has taken over from Harlem A$AP buddy Rocky as the sap to beat. Standing on top of the DJ booth in a cool gray suit, Ferg was a thrilled out vision rapping, along with a cast of Harlem buddies all named A$AP, rapped like a chorus of interlocking voices on hit “Shabba”.

Next, first Diplo and then Skrillex and then together to kick in 2015 as the new duo Jack U, took us through to the end of the evening with a beats beats and more beats triangulation. It was really odd how unpop it all was. Diplo recently told Time Out New York “We know dance and hip hop is our lane” but really this is not even about the bass. The three sets may well have had songs, the “Take You There” remix for one, but this was coming from elsewhere, it was all rhythm manipulation and throwback skids and skirmish… It wasn’t mainstream pop at all, the last time I saw Skrillex (and Diplo  opening for LMFAO come to think of it) they were much more casual fan friendly. Here the duo traded off beats and. backing tapes, a beautiful vision especially when the finally up and running close circuit reversed the angle so you behind the booth. It seemed a little on the brave side and maybe a touch whatever.

As EDM returns to its semi popular roots or morphs into MOR, Skrillex and Diplo are making the case for beats as an art form. But do they have to do it on New Year’s Eve?

Grade: B

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