Review: Snoop Dogg, Skrillex and Chromeo at X Games Aspen
Skrillex dropped the bass, as expected. Snoop Dogg sang some Katy Perry, which probably nobody expected. And ESPN, in its first attempt at staging a music festival at Buttermilk in conjunction with the X Games, put on a crowd-pleasing show, as many had hoped.
Snoop Dogg opened the three-day music lineup Friday night with a bizarre set. It included moments of rank self-promotion (like a product placement of his line of marijuana vaporizers on the video screen behind him during “Last Episode”) and moments of self-parody (“I got one thing to say: Smoke weed, motherf—ers!”) and nonsensical moments with a little of both (as when Snoop thanked the crowd for his “right to legalize and advertise and do what I do”).
He played truncated takes on “The Shiznit,” “Let’s Get High,” “Lodi Dodi” and “Gin and Juice” interspersed between a few odd covers and sing-alongs to tracks by other rappers.
He sang Perry’s “California Gurls” and Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock ’n’ Roll,” and he dedicated Akon’s “I Wanna F— You” to the ladies. In karaoke style, he sang over House of Pain’s “Jump Around” and later Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” and 2Pac’s “Gangster Party” in a back-to-back tribute to the slain ’90s rappers.
After all his cover-band shenanigans, Snoop closed with “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” before walking off to Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” with his arms waving.
The wonder of Snoop Dogg is that this hourlong show, as ridiculous as it was, satisfied in its zany and undeniably entertaining way. Maybe he’s such an icon at this point that he can do anything on stage and get away with it. Maybe we’re not going to see Snoop Dogg rap anymore — we’re going to see Snoop be Snoop.
Skrillex, taking the stage Saturday night after the Ski Big Air competition, began with praise for the high-flying X Games athletes: “I wanna shout out all my motherf—ers on that jump earlier.” From there, he attacked the turntables for a 90-minute set that kept the general-admission half of the outdoor arena packed tight and moving (the preferred-viewing area less so).
He applied his signature bass drops and stutter-step beats to remixes of Kendrick Lamar’s “M.A.A.D. City,” Diplo’s “Express Yourself” and DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” and — like Snoop the night before — offered his spin on House of Pain’s “Jump Around” while also giving the themes from “The Lion King” and “Star Wars” the dubstep treatment.
His original tracks landed less thrillingly somehow, as he played songs like “First of the Year,” “Wild for the Night” and “Make It Bun Dem” more or less the same way other DJs play them. He also previewed a mix of a new track by Jack U, his collaboration with Diplo, which he’s hinted has new material coming out soon.
The famed DJ-producer lived up to his reputation as a showman for the X Games crowd and an online audience watching a free concert stream via ESPN. Throughout, he jumped on and off turntables, strenuously making his case as the hardest-working man in dance music, as massive video screens brandished aliens, skeletons and 16-bit graphics. Lasers shot from the stage through man-made fog to make geometric shapes on the mountainside.
We hear all the time these days that music listeners are splintering — that, with the demise of Top 40 radio and the rise of streaming music, the days of monolithic hit songs are over, that people don’t all want to like the same songs everybody else likes. And yet, here was Snoop Dogg singing a Katy Perry tween anthem and pulling out a Joan Jett golden oldie from 1982. Here was Skrillex remixing the most popular hip-hop songs in the country alongside nostalgia-laden movie scores. Here was each of them, on consecutive nights, pulling the 23-year-old hit and reliable frat-party-starter “Jump Around” into their sets to a roaring, young crowd at X Games and in the process providing an argument that maybe not all that much has changed.
On Saturday evening, the self-proclaimed “funk lordz” Chromeo hot-dogged their way through a 60-minute set of tight synthesizer- and talk-box-driven pop songs. What comes across on the duo’s records as ironic detachment gave way to a surprising, straight-faced charisma from Dave 1 and P-Thugg. “Sexy Socialite,” instead of sounding like a satirical reimagining of Hall and Oates’ “Rich Girl,” sounds like a sincere homage live.
The pair displayed crowd command, inspiring a sing-along on “Frequent Flyer” and getting X Gamers to pair up and sit on one another’s shoulders during “Over Your Shoulder.”
Playing under a postcard-worthy Colorado sunset, the pair piled stage theatrics onto their electro-funk — standing back-to-back for dueling guitar solos, doing synchronized back-and-forth dance steps on “Fancy Footwork” and playing on synths that stood on glowing plastic pairs of women’s legs. Over-the-top? Yeah. Fun? Definitely.
In short, ESPN’s new music festival setup at the X Games worked. The sound quality and production values were outstanding. The shows were crowd-pleasing. Enthusiastic — but mostly tame — crowds moved easily from the snow-sports action to the music arena and gave the security teams little to worry about during the performances. It was the kind of only-in-Aspen concert environment where you could spot little kids building snow forts, older kids passing joints and most everybody in sight having an extremely (X-tremely?) good time.
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