Skrillex | A Unique Concert Experience

I’ll be honest: I had no idea who Skrillex was before I heard his name mentioned at Bumbershoot (the annual music and arts festival in Seattle). Several people hyped Skrillex as one of the “must-see” acts, but I really didn’t have interest in jamming to electronic beats (even though I was at Bumbershoot the night he was performing). Despite my hesitation, I decided to go to the Skrillex concert anyway, and it turned out to be a worthwhile decision.

Skrillex Concert Live In Seattle

Skrillex performs live at Bumbershoot

After watching Passion Pit crush their performance at Bumbershoot, I ventured to the main stage inside KeyArena (the former home of the Seattle Sonics) where Skrillex already started his show. The building (which seats nearly 17,500) was packed to the brim. Every section was closed off because all the seats were taken. I tried several different aisles, but there was always a security guard quickly sending me back to the concourse. I finally marched to the upper bowl and convinced an usher to let me in. It wasn’t an ideal section to hear the music, but it was perfect for scouting the atmosphere.

Skrillex performed for more than an hour that night at Bumbershoot, but I was only there for the final 30 minutes of his show. The music never stopped, and his fans in attendance didn’t either. Every single person inside KeyArena was moving to the beat. It was like a rave on steroids. There were girls stripped down to their sports bras, dudes without their shirts on, and hundreds of fans waving glow sticks to the beat. It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before.

Skrillex added plenty of atmosphere himself. On top of his bumping beats (a Skrillex concert is LOUD), there were fire cauldrons, lasers, fireworks, flashing lights and cannons that shot confetti into the crowd. Skrillex even jumped onto his turntable a couple of times and started flinging his arms into the air, urging the crowd to make some noise — they were quick to oblige. It was a crazy scene. I shot this video just so you could see what it was like:

I would never think about buying a Skrillex album, but his performance was more than enough for me to research him. Little did I know that Skrillex was nominated for five Grammy Awards last year, including Best New Artist. He wound up taking home three Grammys, and was later named MTV’s Electronic Dance Music Artist of the Year. The guy is much bigger than I ever would have guessed he was.

Skrillex continues to gain in popularity too. His music video for ‘Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites‘ currently has more than 102 million views on YouTube. That’s not a fluke either; all of his videos are popular. Just four days ago, the video was posted for ‘Make It Bun Dem‘ (featuring Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley) — it already has 1.5 million views (again — in just four days). Most of his official videos range from 15 million to 80 million views. That goes well beyond “viral” territory.

Skrillex has five extended plays in his discography – Make It Bun Dem After Hours was just released on August 28th. Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites (2010) and Bangarang (2011) are his most popular EPs, going gold (500,000+ copies sold) and platinum (one million+ copies sold), respectively. Believe it or not, I think Skrillex is just scratching the surface — there’s still plenty more to come in the future.

Have you ever seen Skrillex perform live? What do you think of him? I would love to hear from you. Leave a message below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. Don’t forget to also check out more from the world of music right now at http://allaroundtim.com!

Bumbershoot | Experiencing Seattle’s Music Festival

I’m a huge fan of music, but up until yesterday I’d never been to a music festival in my life. It’s not because I haven’t wanted to go to one either; it’s just never worked out (mostly because I’ve worked weekends for much of my career). After two and a half days of hearing acts at Bumbershoot from my office in Seattle (the television station is directly across the street from where the event was held), I finally got into the mix last night.

Passion Pit performing live in Seattle at Bumbershoot

Passion Pit

I could only squeeze four hours out of Bumbershoot (I was off work at 7pm and the last show ended at 11pm), but it was worth every second. I saw parts of four different acts, but I was constantly surrounded by music the second I walked in the gates to the second I walked out. After my quick glimpse at the festival, I wished that I could have spent every hour of every day at Bumbershoot over Labor Day weekend (if I didn’t have to work, obviously).

The range of music you find at Bumbershoot is amazing. I heard everything from pop, to folk, to electronica — and I was only there for a few hours. On top of what I heard in the crowd, I also heard a wide range from my office. There was the Heartless Bastards, Ian Hunter and the Rant Band and Wanda Jackson (the “Queen of Rockabilly”) — just to name a few. It’s a great way to experience a lot of different music all in one place.

The first act I strolled upon at Bumbershoot was Lights. I knew nothing about her when I saw her on stage, but she was cute, little and she was rocking out. Lights romped around with the microphone, jammed out on her synthesizer and even went solo on her piano (her band literally left the stage). It was fun to watch. Lights honestly reminded me of someone like No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani when she was on stage, but I was completely duped by her performance. I wanted to learn more about Lights after I got home, so I googled her. All of her songs sounded like your typical pop artist (think Jessica Simpson). I was stunned, disappointed, and realized that I can easily get caught up in a live concert — no matter who it is.

I slipped away from Lights for a few minutes to check out Hey Marseilles. Again, I didn’t know much about them before I saw them on stage. They’re a local, Seattle-based band that sounds a little like Mumford & Sons, but they’re not nearly as good/developed. Hey Marseilles didn’t do nearly enough to lure me in with their first few songs, so I kept moving on (sadly, I chose eating dinner over watching the rest of their show — that’s how little they impressed me).

Skrillex performing live at Bumbershoot in Seattle

Skrillex

After a quick bite, Passion Pit was the next group to grab my attention at Bumbershoot. Several people recommended Passion Pit to me in the past, but I never really took the time to listen to them, and honestly the snippets I’d heard on iTunes weren’t all that intriguing to me. I will say this — I’m a big fan of Passion Pit now that I’ve seen them live. Lead singer Michael Angelakos rocks. He’s was all over the stage, swinging the microphone over his head, and even banged away on the drums at one point. Passion Pit definitely won me over. I plan on buying their latest album Gossamer (released July 24th) when I’m done writing this.

Right before Passion Pit wrapped up, I made my way to the main stage at KeyArena to catch the end of Skrillex. I’m not into electronic music at all, so I had no idea how huge this guy was. The arena (which holds 17,459 people) was packed to the brim. Every section was closed, because all the seats were taken. I finally convinced one of the workers to let me through (since I was by myself), and I wound up on the side of the stage. It wasn’t the best for hearing Skrillex jam, but it gave me a great opportunity to see the crowd (the average age couldn’t have been older than 20). It was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. I’ll compare it to a rave on steroids. People were shirtless, there were glow sticks, lasers and fireworks, and the crowd never stopped moving to the music. I shot this video to give you a feel for what it was like:

I was skeptical at first, but it was totally worth seeing Skrillex in person (for the people watching alone). I was so impressed that I wrote an individual post about my full Skrillex experience — check it out!

I’ve always been a fan of music, but I’ve really grown to love it over the last five or six years, and thanks to my experience at Bumbershoot, my passion for music keeps getting bigger and bigger. I can’t wait for another live performance or the next band that’s going to knock me right off my feet. I think I might be addicted.

Did you go to Bumbershoot? If so, who did you see? I’d love to hear all about it! Simply leave a comment below or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Google+. Don’t forget to also check out more of my take on music right now on http://allaroundtim.com.

New Music Discovery | Heartless Bastards

I thought my Zoe Muth and the Lost High Rollers post was really random, but then I started to realize that random is what makes music really fun. There’s always someone/something new to find, and how you find them is usually — again — random (or at least that’s how it works for me). So, with that long-winded explanation in the books, the way I found the Heartless Bastards really shouldn’t sound all that strange.

I work in a television station right across the street from the Space Needle, which is located in an area called Seattle Center. There are always events happening at Seattle Center, including this weekend — it’s Bumbershoot. For those of you who don’t know, Bumbershoot is a huge, annual music and arts festival in the Emerald City. The best part about being so close is that I can hear some of the acts performing from my office (it’s a little echoey, but you can still get a good feel for the tunes).

Heartless Bastard Band Music

Heartless Bastards

I was pounding away on my shows last night when one of the bands peaked my interest. I immediately jumped on the Bumbershoot website to find out who was on stage. The answer — the Heartless Bastards. I’d never heard them before, but their name alone made them worth researching. I wanted to jump all over it, but I was working hard, so my research had to wait until this morning. Here’s what I found:

The Heartless Bastards are a “garage band” that formed back in 2003 in Cincinnati. They’ve since moved, so they’re now based in Austin, Texas. There are four people who make up the Heartless Bastards, but the centerpiece is singer/guitarist/songwriter Erika Wennerstrom. The iTunes review for the band’s latest album Arrow describes Wennerstrom as a “rock n’ roll goddess”:

“Wennerstrom is a versatile guitarist who has the rock bite of Chrissie Hynde, the wounded blues howl of singers like Cat Power and P.J. Harvey, and the classic rock soul of the women of Heart — all in one combustible package,” the review reads.

I haven’t had a ton of time to listen to their old stuff, but I like what I hear so far from Arrow (released on Valentine’s Day). ‘Parted Ways‘ and ‘Only For You‘ peaked my interest the most on the album. Heartless Bastards gets high scores for variety (often described as multi-dimensional). They slam songs like ‘Got To Have Rock And Roll‘, bring some country twang to ‘Low Low Low‘ and flashback to the Woodstock-esque ‘Down In The Canyon‘.

Here’s a sample of what the Heartless Bastards bring to the table (this is ‘Only For You’):

NOTE: You can actually get a free download of ‘Only for You’ by signing up for the Heartless Bastards mailing list on their website.

The Heartless Bastards’ Wikipedia page says the group is often compared to The Black Keys (also from Ohio), but I can’t say I hear a ton of resemblance (let’s be honest — The Black Keys are better). The Heartless Bastards have their own unique sound, and I think that’s what drew me to them from the beginning. This was a random find, but one I’m pretty happy with so far.

I’ll keep my ears peeled for another surprise from Bumbershoot today…

Have you listened to the Heartless Bastards? What do you think of them? I’d love to hear from you! Simply leave a message below or connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and/or Google+. Don’t forget to also check out http://allaroundtim.com for more of my take on music!