Skrillex’s Full Flex Express crash-lands on Île Notre-Dame
Skrillex, photo by Lorraine Carpenter
A Skrillex show looks like a 12-year-old boy’s dream, minus the requisite sex: You’re the captain of a space ship, a vessel ripped from the worlds of Star Wars and Transformers. Behind you, a giant screen convulses with FPS graphics, animated skulls and skeletons and lots of documentary footage of you, ’cause you’re a fucking celebrity, bitch! Despite your relatively tiny size on stage, you’re the centre of attention as you feverishly work the controls to thrust massive, roaring sounds at a sweaty, enraptured crowd.
So maybe that was the sex. And it was the climax of last night’s Full Flex Express show, the Montreal stop of a cross-Canada train tour headlined by the ubiquitous ambassador of “brostep.” Along for the ride was Montreal’s own Grimes, the lovably odd electro-pop charmer whom you could compare to a range of ‘90s icons (Björk? Cranes? Tank Girl?) but would be better advised to just dance and trance to. American DJ and Mad Decent label head Diplo was also on hand, though he was here just two weeks ago with his bottom-heavy, conceptual side thing Major Lazer, and also spun at Igloofest in January — as a result, his set wasn’t necessarily fresh. But hey, his eclectic beat and bass manipulations, choppy neon graphics, shirtless stage-diving and “zorbing” had the crowd under control. And finally, for some reason scheduled between Diplo and Skrillex, was Pretty Lights, a DJ bro whose towers of light and shadow were way more memorable than his sounds.
And then we’re back to Skrillex, the guy with the Grammy-winning haircut and the world’s worst speaking/screaming voice — whenever he shouted out to the crowd, I thought I’d been transported to an episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, albeit partly because of the red-bodysuit dancer beside me (but he was just a whore for Coca-Cola).
Although he’s supposedly losing money on this tour due to the logistics of it all (and there were only a few thousand people in attendance last night, way below the capacity of the space), 24-year-old Sonny John Moore has done well for his wallet. He was once the singer for a piece-of-shit band called From First to Last, and like several of his emo brethren, he’s reinvented himself — but he’s done it successfully.
He’s the new breed of superstar DJ, hated by much of the EDM world but championed by fans of unpretentious, unrelenting, unoriginal and subtlety-free entertainment. Imagine the lasers, lights and drops of a mammoth rave (that’s a rave minus homos, house divas, build-ups or conspicuous drug use), a pyrotechnics-packed metal show (without actual fire, save for a couple of puny firecrackers brought in by fans), a monster truck demolition derby (sans destruction) and video games that parents hate (but are no longer blamed for school shootings). ■