Skrillex Opening for Guns N' Roses Makes More Sense Than You Think

Skrillex spins at the old Rich's in September 2011.
Skrillex spins at the old Rich's in September 2011.
Photo by Son Lam

The question of the hour since the announcement of Skrillex as the supporting act for the Houston stop of Guns N' Roses' "Not In This Lifetime" tour was simply "Why?" Looking down the list of other openers on the tour, this one really sticks out.

First let's take a look at the big names that have been named for other shows. Initially, it was a possibility that Alice in Chains skipped over our fine city because they are scheduled to headline Houston Open Air festival in just over a month from the G’ N’ R date. The same could be said for The Cult returning to town for the same festival, less than a year after their last performance.  Then there is Lenny Kravitz, a consummate rocker whose large backing band means the logistics of maneuvering his group's equipment to Houston for a one-off appearance could be too cost-prohibitive. The last big name is the newest country outlaw, Chris Stapleton, but he is playing The Woodlands one week from Friday on a co-headlining show with Hank Williams, Jr. With all of Axl's rowdy friends not able to join them, it leaves a Vince Wilfork-sized hole for the coveted supporting slot of the legendary metal band.

So in steps Skrillex. You're not alone if you just asked yourself, "What in the hell is a Skrillex?" Well, it's not a new Pokémon. He's a DJ. Arguably one of the top EDM artists in the world, with his thick black-rimmed glasses, long, stringy hair with one side of his head shaved, and always smiling, the most recognizable too. He doesn’t really have the look of a world-famous DJ. He looks more like he should be a guitarist for some band on the Warped Tour. Oh wait...Skrillex is an alias for Sonny Moore, the former vocalist for the emo band From First to Last.

But again, why Skrillex? Why bring in some crazy electronic DJ? Even though he has won eight Grammy awards, it's highly likely that less than one-tenth of the fans at NRG will be familiar with Sonny for his current work or with his past efforts. Of the vast majority of fans who have ever seen GN’R live over the decades, very few will say they've seen Skrillex. It's difficult to say that the promoters were looking for crossover revenue from the younger generation that bought their Appetite for Destruction shirts from Target but were on the fence to shell out the cash to see the legendary rock band. Even if that were true, they would have had Skrillex play on more than the one-off date in Houston.

One last possible connection may be the love of the genre by other members of GN'R themselves. Longtime and current members of the band Frank Ferrer and Chris Pitman have developed an electropunk side project called BEATRAZR. It's possible that the drummer and/or keyboardist are EDM fans and knew Mr. Moore from his post-hardcore metal days.

In Skrillex's relatively short time in the spotlight as compared to the headliners, he has played to massive numbers of people. His experience of performing at steady festival gigs all over the world has honed his skills as an artist. He is not going to go onstage and play deep dubstep tracks and alienate the crowd. That is not going to happen on his watch. His set list will be crafted for this audience. We will just have to see if Skrillex himself can provide the answer to the original question of Why?

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