Skrillex, Four Tet & Fred again.. throw legendary rave at Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden is known as the world’s most famous arena and the mystique and power of that hallowed space were on full display as Skrillex, Fred Again.., and Four Tet took over the room for what may be the wildest club night the arena has ever seen. Inspired by a previous night in New York, where Four Tet told Fred Again.. about his desire to throw a five-hour pop-up show at MSG, the dream came to fruition to celebrate not one but two albums from Skrillex.
Ignoring any superstar egos, the three DJs took the stage promptly at 7 pm, just as the doors were opened, meaning the trio began playing to a relatively empty space, yet this didn’t stop them from warming up the room, with Skrillex even dropping a Middle Eastern inspired edit of Bangarang within the first half hour of the night. With the lights on and New York City pouring into the iconic space above Penn Station, the trio took turns dropping a wide variety of house remixes, originals, and fresh edits, operating as the ultimate opening act for a night brimming with anticipation. It was about an hour and a half into the night when the party truly began, and the dominance of Skrillex at this moment was put on full display for the sold-out arena.
Having been fortunate enough to occupy space inside MSG, this author will now shamelessly self-promote his own social media to showcase the brilliant intro to Rumble and the moment the party truly began. With a heavily filtered edit of the single looping through the sound system, Skrillex grabbed the mic and began to thank everyone for joining him that evening before hopping off the stage and doing a full lap around the lower bowl of the Garden, a well-deserved victory run before returning to the riser above the DJ booth and the drop kicking in as the lights went off!
While the crowd exploded, this wasn’t any normal arena performance, as Four Tet brought in the familiar notes of the new Skrillex and Missy Elliot collaboration, RATATA, teasing an epic drop only to cut it immediately not once, not twice, but five straight times, the whole crowd ready to erupt with the heavy bass and hard-hitting rhymes of Missy. It was this looseness that made the performance so much more than just three friends DJing at an iconic venue, it was a celebration of the joy, brashness, and freedom that music is meant to evoke.
While Skrillex has held the status of “legend” for many years now, it is important to remember that his transition from Sonny Moore, the emo singer who “spent 2004 listening to Morrissey in his car,” to dubstep icon Skrillex was inspired by catching Daft Punk on their momentous pyramid tour many years ago. Watching his career, his ability to both start trends while avoiding others within music, as well as come and go as he pleases makes that connection all the more relevant. Like the robots before him, he isn’t here to carry the flag for EDM or any specific genre, he is out to forge forward as a musician without boundaries and his joy, passion, and talent were on full display throughout the five-hour set in New York City.
As the night went on, the crowd would be treated to Rumble at least four more times, and Skrillex would play through the majority of his new album, Quest For Fire, and at one point he would grab a phone from a lucky fan in the front row who happened to notice that a second album, Don’t Get Too Close, had just hit streaming services. Skrillex told the crowd that he decided to drop the album in the middle of this massive set and once again, the entire arena drank in the importance and significance of the moment being witnessed.
Minus two new edits of Cinema, a reprise of Bangarang, and a run-through of his massive Jack Ü single with Justin Bieber, Where Are Ü Now, an appropriate choice as the last time Skrillex played the Garden, he was ringing in New Year with Diplo back in 2014, the focus was on his new material and all about looking forward. While he has spent this re-entry into the spotlight joined at the hip with Fred Again.. and Four Tet, the allure of the Garden allowed for the “the ones he came with”, aka Porter Robinson to make an appearance to the delight of the sold-out crowd. The audience was treated to another special guest when Fred Again.. announced that Sebastian Ingrosso was also hanging out during a blaring play-through of his Swedish House Mafia collaboration, Turn On The Lights again.
The five-hour set, culminating around midnight was more a celebration than a performance, a coming together of friends to play the songs they love for people who love music even without the normal bells and whistles of a stadium-sized set. At one point, Skrillex got on the mic and noted that an event like this may never happen again, and having witnessed it firsthand, he is probably right. While the trio will probably embark upon other towns and stages, this was a moment, a celebration of Skrillex releasing two albums in 24 hours, and the night when Madison Square Garden was turned into the world’s most famous club.
Image Credit: Marilyn Hue / Provided by Atlantic Records