End of An Era: How Skrillex Closed The Last Nights of Webster Hall with a Marathon Set!
I don’t live in New York. I’m from Toronto in fact, but I do know what an iconic venue Webster Hall has become in today's age. The building itself was actually created in 1886, but didn’t function as the venue and club we know today until 1992. It’s recognized as the first modern day nightclub. The venue holds 2500 people and we saw the capacity hit it’s limit during one of the final performances of the venue's history.
New York actually has the venue listed as a landmark, which means the building can’t be torn down. The unfortunate part is it can still be bought, re-branded and reopened, which is exactly what is happening. The venue will close for 2 years and open as something completely new in early 2020. The venue was sold to Brooklyn Sports Entertainment, who will re-open it as Spectrum Hall. Webster Hall’s history is long, in the earliest years it started as a theater and was used for community events such as fundraisers, weddings, military events, etc. The venue played host to some of the most iconic acts of the era. The intimate venue has seen such guests as Eric Clapton, U2, BB King, Guns N’ Roses, Prince, Linkin Park and countless more.Anyone lucky enough to attend the venue with big acts were treated to an intimate show like none other. Which is why I had no choice but to travel down to NYC to experience Webster Hall for the first and last time.
I’m a huge Skrillex fan and anybody who knows me knows that fact. The timing of his music being released and my deep dive into electronic music was synonymous. I was invited to attend the sold out show, but was only given the invite the day of the show, which was on August 5th, 2017 at 2pm. I left Toronto and the hit the road to head to NYC. I calculated the drive and I had very little time to even think, because if I did I would arrive in the midst of his set. If I started to think too much I probably would not have gone and made the excuse about not having enough time. Knowing myself I know that I would intimately regret not doing something I know would be badass, so that was enough for me to just start moving. I grabbed what I could and was off to NYC. The reality of the trip did not even set in until I passed the boarder. I heard all the horror stories and though I have a clean record and nothing of concern in my car, I was still anxious on whether or not I would make it across. I got up to the front and kept it honest. I said I was headed to New York City for the final nights of Webster Hall and the guard actually said to have fun; things were off to a great start.
As I drove past the boarder and the km’s turned to miles the reality started to set in. I would get to see the iconic venue for the first and final time with my favorite artist behind the decks. I stopped by a Walmart and grabbed some beers, because why not. I made very little stops since I wanted to get there ASAP. I arrived at 12:40am, a crisp 20 minutes before Skrillex came on. I got parking down the street which was a 2 minute walk from the venue. I drank 3 beers before I made it to the door and got right in. Tickets online were selling for an average price of $150 USD but when I arrived there were tickets left at the door for $50! I was lucky enough to be put on Atlantic Records Guest list and through some miracle I had made it from Toronto to NYC to see Skrillex, that’s when the real fun began.
The night started with some great opening acts such as Deux Twins, Lido, and Ekali. I was only able to catch the last 20 minutes of Ekali, but was more focused on the building I have never been to before. The architecture of the building was beautifully classic as you'd imagine it. There was multiple floors, rooms and bars. The fact the building has been around so long and so many legendary acts have played it made it that much more special knowing Skrillex was one of the final acts to hit the stage. At 1:00 am Skrillex appeared from behind the large crowd gathered on and in front of the stage. As security cleared his way to the decks the venue roared in excitement. The energy changed almost instantly as Skrillex started by dropping new ID's (JOYRYDE collaboration). Skrillex dropped his latest track "Would You Ever" right after playing the nostalgic " Rock 'n Roll". The floors were bouncing from everyone jumping. Hopefully the venue would be one piece after the night. It was a special night, Skrillex has been visiting the venue regularly since 2010. I think Sonny recognized the significance of the night because there was plenty of microphone moments later in the set filled with speeches, thank you's and love!
Skrillex was joined on stage by Jas his photographer and fellow OWSLA signee Sliink. The surprise guest of the night was the always reliable Boys Noize, who came in at around 2:45 AM to play a very rare set as Dog Blood. Their first since 2015 I believe and even that was a one off. The classics and new track ID's continued from that point. The vibe changed again as the fans were treated with b2b sets.
Skrillex was supposed to end his set with Dog Blood at 3:45am according to the bill, but as 4am approached he took the mic and said “We’re gonna play another hour for you guys and shut this place down with you guys”! The crowd responded in cheers as expected. The beginning of the night was shoulder to shoulder packed and very hot to the point breathing wasn't super comfortable. I'm happy to say as it got later, people got way to drunk and tired, it cleared out to be the intimate venue I had always hoped. Ridiculous amounts of space to dance, breathe and have fun.
There was also one point in the night where Skrillex asked for no more lights, so it was pretty dark for the rest of the set other than a white light here and there, but matched the vibe perfectly. As the tracks became more nontraditional for Skrillex to play the set became groovy and dark. I was surprised, but having the most fun at this point. Skrillex didn't stop playing until around 6am, so the residents could close the place down for the last 45 minutes. The night was filled with surprises, but none more significant than the marathon set Skrillex played the night before his Hard Summer set in LA across the country. The fans, staff and media left in awe with the perfect ending to a perfect night. It was a night that well represented the fun and good times over the many years of Webster Hall's history. I was more tired than most as I imagine, but left with no regrets of coming off that long road trip. I have to give a special thanks to the great Libby & Jordan of Big Beat/Atlantic for letting this fanboy be part of such a legendary experience. For those who attended, the night will live on in infamy and become folklore to those who didn't. Thank you NYC.
Photo Credit thanks to Bryan Kwon & Webster Hall.