Have you ever had an experience that was so bizarre, so surreal, so talking-to-a-smoking-caterpillar weird that you just had to let go and accept the strange so you didn’t end up freaking out? That approach could be used to survive a bad mushroom trip—or the Skrillex show at the Great Saltair on Saturday night.
My trip down the rabbit hole got off to a rough start, though. Once my friend and I arrived at the edge of civilization, we saw the lights of Saltair—as well as the lights of traffic backed up along the offramp and about five ambulances trying to fight through all the cars. It seemed like everyone had the same plan we did—to show up just as Skrillex was taking the stage—and that apparently some people just couldn’t handle a party as big as this one.
One of the first times during the night I told myself to just accept the weird was when I was standing at the edge of the Great Salt Lake with about 30 rowdy, intoxicated people, waiting for a shuttle van to pick us up to take us to the venue. The main parking lot at Saltair had filled up, so my friend and I were among those directed to a parking lot two miles down Saltair Drive. Some brave ones decided to give up on the van and walk along the narrow road to the show, but we chose to just wait it out.
When the van pulled up, somehow we crammed about 25 people inside. We all cheered once we arrived at Saltair, and thanked the shuttle driver (who must have had the patience of a saint to deal with screaming people and a strobe light) and piled out.
Fully in Wonderland by now, I was immediately rewarded with some of the best people-watching I’d ever, ever seen. With my super-short black shorts, tank top, striped knee socks, purple Converse and furry, pink Cheshire Cat hat, I quickly realized I was one of the few people actually wearing clothes—most girls were wearing nothing but panties and bras. Saltair was an endless blur of spinning glow sticks, psychedelic costumes, yeti boot covers, guys with fox tails and too many pacifiers stuck firmly in mouths to count.
From the moment Skrillex went on stage, it was as if he’d attached everyone’s arms and legs to invisible puppet strings, and, entranced, no one had a choice but to move to his spooky musical bewitchments. His set was a masterful blend of his own gritty compositions—crowd favorites like “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” “Kill Everybody” and “Rock & Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain)”—and re-mixes like iSquare’s “Hey Sexy Lady.” The outdoor stage was a visual revelation, with Skrillex backed by a full wall of screens playing melting-geometry animation. A really cool touch was a huge animated figure that copied every movement Skrillex made. The outdoor location also made it possible for huge columns of fire to come out of the top of the stage, to the delight of the gyrating crowd.
The climax of the night’s curiouser-and-curiouser factor happened when a guy who was obviously zonked out of his mind came up to me, saw my furry Cheshire Cat hat and said, “Oh my god, can I pet your hat?” I laughed and obliged.
At the end of his set, Skrillex said goodbye to the enamored crowd by playing "With You, Friends," with lyrics that said, "Bye, thank you, like you, love you, see you next time, bye! Miss you." Then the crowd slowly filed out of Saltair to make the journey from the land of dreams. If Skrillex ever met a talking caterpillar that asked, "Whoooo are you?" he would reply, "My. Name. Is. Skrillex."