While night two of With Your Friends Fest on the riverfront didn't warm up for us much, The Spin at least caught two sweet breaks: First, we were at least dry, as the frosty mist that plagued Friday was no longer a problem. Second, we scored a couple of artist passes — as general admission is of course our sense of entitlement’s worst enemy. So, rather than freeze with the plebes, we enjoyed a heated lounge with an open bar. And rather than watching from the back of the flock, we got a sweet view from side stage.
We were enjoying a complimentary cocktail with the likes of openers Two Fresh when the area was cleared for Nas to make his way to the stage — somewhere about 10 minutes behind his scheduled start time. In the middle of his second or third song, the hip-hop heavyweight froze mid-verse to kindly ask the glow stick-tossing kids in the front of the audience to knock it off with the distractions. When his request only made things worse, he asked his nine-piece band to stop all together and explained he was much too high to deal with such a thing. He resolved to play the rest of his set “in the crowd” — or rather, standing atop the fence holding the crowd back. Nas managed to touch on many a crowd-pleasing highlight throughout an incredibly short that, though it started late, unfortunately ended right on time.
Next up, EDM messiah Skrillex warmed up the crowd with a short, pre-Pretty Lights set — no spaceship was to be found this go-round. Like Revenge of the Nerds on a bath salt binge, the chain-smoking superstar DJ hyped an apeshit crowd of thousands with plumes of smoke, an array of lasers, a disorienting light show and an erratic mish-mash of broken, chopped and distorted raver discharge punctuated with his signature quiet-to-loud drops. And at each drop, a burst of smoke from the stage and a rainfall of glow sticks from the crowd would collide.
The transition from Skrillex’s club-kid-mega-church spectacle to Pretty Lights' intricately sample-based dance jams wasn’t the most climactic. And so The Spin ventured back out into the crowd, where heavy synths, vintage samples and hip-hop beats kept fans moving quite adequately. Though, to be honest, we enjoyed most of it from backstage, where the ever-congenial Sonny Moore milled about shaking every hand and gladly exchanging a conversation with literally anyone, including an occasional overly emotional and inebriated super-fan.
After the show, The Spin spent a terrifying amount of time figuring out the controls that would open the door to the bathroom on Skrillex's tour bus, before being ushered out into a 15-passenger van that led us to the after-party at Virago. There Skrillex performed yet another set for a much smaller crowd, and sans the light show, ecstatic youngsters and seizure-friendly visuals, Skrills lays down a much cooler vibe. The drops were there but much less dramatic, as he laid down a more standard DJ-style party set on into the wee hours of the night. We can't say that The Spin's brains and bodies could handle partying With Your Friends-style every weekend, but if Skrills & Co. feel like popping in like this on occasion, we'll be there to roll out the red carpet.