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Live Review: Four Tet / Skrillex, Camden Underworld, London (5/4/15)

Announced around the April 1st, Four Tet and Skrillex playing a back to back set seemed a crudely obvious April Fool’s Day prank. Though, continuing the tendency both DJs have to be unusual, it actually went ahead. Jammed into the 500 capacity Camden Underworld, a step down from Skrillex’s arena tours, the pair stood together forming a marriage between their, almost polar, opposite ends of the electronic spectrum.

As expected, the night consisted of both pretentious douche bags and ‘laddy’ douche bags alike- possibly the two most hated stereotypes of the nation. It was therefore pretty admirable Champion pulled his warm-up set off so well; managing to cater for the range of tastes in the audience, along with dropping what’s fast becoming Labour’s election campaign song, ‘That’s Not Me’. The occasional Skrillex track would knock you off your feet with it’s maximal force, but it’s hard to play a completely seamless set.

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Four Tet and Skrillex appearing to take the decks together was, realistically, a bit of a let down. As with much in life, no matter how much you pump yourself up as to how insane something is going to be, inevitably, you do have to come to realise that it’s just two DJs doing a set together. With that said, it didn’t stop the paparazzi like bombardment of camera shots on the front row. The stage behind the decks was littered with iconic DJs, including Dan Snaith (a.k.a. Caribou/Daphni), along with what looked like the cast of a normal boiler room set (i.e. stationary hipsters). All in all, you could be quite content standing there for a while just examining the social group on stage.

As the night went on, the surreal nature did start to take more of a hold – moshing Skrillex fans would smash in to groups of hipsters leaving them scattered like confused kittens.

Reassuringly for the crowd, both of them seemed to be having a good time- Skrillex continuously shouting ‘It’s Easter Sunday bitches, we’re not going to work tomorrow!’ (provoking confusion about him having a day job), while Four Tet appeared slightly more withdrawn, occasionally giving a bashful laugh at the situation. It was a clear issue that Skrillex was struggling to keep up with Four Tet – not necessarily due to talent, just the difference in experience for the two DJs. Tracks wise, the set was dominated by Skrillex’s sound, playing a lot of his own material as well as dropping multiple charts hits, including Sam Smith and Calvin Harris. Four Tet’s catalogue was by no means neglected, including plays for the new Roots Manuva track along with some of the material off the Percussions release. Giving The Bug’s ‘Skeng’ a play was probably the best track to get a unified reaction from the diverse crowd.

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As the night went on, the surreal nature did start to take more of a hold – moshing Skrillex fans would smash in to groups of hipsters leaving them scattered like confused kittens. What’s more, Camden Underworld’s punk identity started to seep through; attendees who remembered stage-diving there when they were teenagers started to do just that. Bringing the set to a close, Skrillex kicked into showman mode and Four Tet switched from bashful laughs to giving him pretty much full control of the reigns. Asking everyone to put their phones up for a ‘lighters in the air’ effect vaguely worked for a bit then fizzled out. Skrillex then dropped Wu Tang’s ‘C.R.E.A.M.’ for what could have made for a painfully serious, or just cliche, ending. The track then quickly switched to Toto’s ‘Africa’ with Skrillex shouting out to the audience he wanted to ‘see some hand-waving going on’. So the night came to a close with a crowd of hipsters and lads alike, passionately swaying their arms to the chorus of ‘Africa’. Skrillex may be a divisive artist, but he deserves credit as a showman.

Ian Fillingham

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