Jon Caramanica, pop critic at The New York Times and one of my personal favourite music writers took his pen to the rise of the stadium-sized multi-visual electronic act in the States, in a fantastic piece titled Electronic Music That Plays to the Senses, Both Sound and Sight
If anything, Deadmau5 has made a cottage industry out of stripping things from dance music that used to feel important: texture, subtlety, slickness. At this show, the low end was steady and convincing, but almost everything drizzled atop it fell flat, save for the occasional shrill techno injection, or a quick, uncommitted burst of dubstep. It bordered on masochism.
What filled the gaps were visuals, bright displays of animated characters and trippy light arrangements programmed in perfect harmony with the music. Where Deadmau5 failed the ears, he tantalized the eyes.
Skrillex and Deadmau5 have a close relationship: Skrillex’s first commercial release, the “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” EP, was on Deadmau5’s imprint. But musically they’re miles apart. Skrillex makes dubstep at its least subtle. During his set he wove in snippets of familiar pop songs — a remix of La Roux’s “In for the Kill” and Nero’s “Crush on You,” which tweaks the Jets song of the same name — and made them more masculine, running their softness and their melody through a gantlet of hard bass.
He also played a bit of the one-drop reggae anthem “Welcome to Jamrock,” by Damian Marley, as if to prove that dubstep, in his view, wasn’t wholly divorced from its long-lost cousin dub.
It felt laughable, though. American dubstep is like a laboratory-engineered, steroidal, no-fat version of its British counterpart, which even as it’s become more popular has maintained some of the texture that links it to dub music. British dubstep still belongs in dank clubs; American dubstep belongs in sports arenas. It’s also clobbering other forms of American dance music, including the blend of progressive house, electro, trance and more that Deadmau5 specializes in.