Cle's Big Game Weekend Brought on Even Bigger Beats

Skrillex's Saturday-night crowd was ready to let loose.
Skrillex's Saturday-night crowd was ready to let loose. Photo by Jack Gorman
click to enlarge Skrillex's Saturday-night crowd was ready to let loose. - PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
Skrillex's Saturday-night crowd was ready to let loose.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Clé is probably still glowing from the remnants of nuclear energy its crowds emanated all weekend. During the four months prior to Super Bowl weekend, the Midtown danceteria announced a number of intriguing parties and celebrity hosts that had attendees oozing out of the building. The lineup of its "Marquee Takeover" set the standard, as Tiësto, Skrillex and DJ Snake combined with Spire's "TAO Takeover" to closely rival similar club billings in Vegas.

Two venues and eight shows over four days for $1,000 was a bargain comparing to other galas disguised as parties. Attending one of these other celebrity-sponsored galas turned out to be extremely lame. It was basically a handful of C-list celebs and has-beens strolling down a red carpet to be escorted to a private roped-off area that “commoners” could access for upwards of $25,000. Sure, you might dance along to “Brick House” while your drunk rich grandpa ogles at Jenny McCarthy from afar, but that’s not what most Houstonians consider a good time.

The shows at Clé much better exhibited our city’s party atmosphere during the Super Bowl frenzy. The TAO Group, an international clubbing conglomerate, and their local partners hit this one out of the park. The crowds were diverse and beautiful. Nothing too outrageous happened except for the occasional nip-slip, but remember the wardrobe malfunction originated in Houston.

click to enlarge Tiësto was all smiles during his Friday-night set. - JACK GORMAN
Tiësto was all smiles during his Friday-night set.
Jack Gorman
People were ready to go hard on Friday night, and they brought tons of energy for Tiësto. “Don’t You Worry” got the large crowd pumped quickly followed by his own hit, “Red Lights.” Couples were making out and lusting all over each other during a section of love songs in his set including remixes of John Legend’s “All of Me” and two classics that are more than 30 years old, the Outfield's "Your Love” and Bryan Adams' "Heaven," although the latter's lyrics should have been changed to “Grinding here in my arms, we’re in Heaven."

Anointed by Mixmag as the greatest DJ ever, Tiësto continuously smiled throughout his sets, pausing to chug champagne with his crew elevated above the crowd. It was surprising the lack of response from the dance floor when the Dutchman started spinning “Thief” by Ookay; it was as if they had not heard it before, but maybe they were simply catching their breath because the place went absolutely nuts when the sax breakdown dropped. The latter part of the set went hip-hop heavy, dropping “Black Beatles” and some other trap hits with Atlantan flair. This crowd wasn’t down to gawk at celebs; they legitimately came for Tiësto.

click to enlarge A helmet was a handy accessory in the throng of people. - PHOTO BY JACK GORMAN
A helmet was a handy accessory in the throng of people.
Photo by Jack Gorman
Saturday night, Sonny Moore (a.k.a. Skrillex) had Clé so incredibly packed. Walking into the main area, three ladies posed the question “Where do we go?” as they stood in the keyhole-shaped entrance. The obvious answer was inside, but it appeared to be nearly impossible at least for several moments as people shuffled around to the bars and around the dance floor.

Skrillex has truly transformed from a hardcore dubstep DJ to a genre bending electronic artist. He had the crowd in the palm of his hands playing seemingly everything from his catalog as a solo artist thought out the night mixed with other huge bangers that he has had a part of like “Animals” and Major Lazer’s “Watch Out for This.” The club was drenched in deep red lights for almost the entire set along with long bursts of CO2 shot over the packed floor.

Skrillex proved to be the master of the segue. He wouldn’t simply transition from one song to another, he set them up like a perfect screen pass: “If you you know that Texas is the shit, throw your hands up!”; just as the crowd complied, 2 Chainz was piped in shouting, “put some Febreeze” on it from their Jack Ü collab with Diplo. “I fell in love with the Houston crowd,” the DJ shouted before queuing “Summer.” Just after 2:15 a.m., he was playing a slower version of his breakthrough hit “Cinema” and directed everyone to put their phones up in the air. “My cinema, my cinema, my cinema, my cinema” droned over and over until Skrillex screamed that he “lives for that energy!”
Above photo by Julian Bajsel

Finishing up the big weekend was Parisian producer and DJ DJ Snake, who attended his first American football game on Sunday. That’s correct; his first-ever game was the Super Bowl, and he sent periodic updates of his search for tacos through social media. Ironically, he produced one of the biggest and most frequent songs played at NRG — “Turn Down For What,” which is played whenever J.J. Watt breathes.

The “Bird Machine” flowed from the speakers and had ladies “get low when the whistle blow.” To top off the incredible time, another phenomenal producer and Snake's Mad Decent boss, Diplo, slipped into the DJ booth to join in on the action.

The Big Game Weekend was not an event to miss. Unless another major event comes to Houston, we may not see such a great lineup of electronic-music artists in a club setting like this for a very long time.

Most Interesting Observation: The Main Street trains on the Metro Rail were a touch crowded in the early morning. It wasn't just Motown Willie taking a nap in the back.

Most Interesting Eavesdrop: “This feels very Milan-y.” “Houston or Milan?” Yes, it was serious.

Douchiest Move: One guy walked up to a gorgeous redhead and tried to go in for an open-mouth kiss from out of nowhere. She retracted in disgust and briskly walked away with her friend. Not sure where that guy was from, but that’s called assault here in these parts.
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Jackson is a freelance photographer and writer covering a variety of music and sporting events in the Houston area. He has contributed to the Houston Press since 2013.
Contact: Jack Gorman