While New York City's HARD Haunted Mansion could not compete with the scale of the events billed under the same name in other cities (like Los Angeles), what they lacked in size they made up for with a prime quality smaller roster of acts. With Skream & Benga, Joker, Dillon Francis, Gesaffelstein, and HARD creator Destructo at the helm, HARD was bound to be a good time. And there was the promise of an afterparty with Dillon Francis and a disco set by Skream.
This was my first visit to Terminal 5 and I think I'm a fan of the venue. My first instinct was to draw a comparison to Boston's similarly-sized-but-terrible House of Blues, and I liked T5 quite a bit more -- a venue doesn't really need to be anything more than a big open space where people can dance and play to the music (and balconies aren't a bad addition for those who want to chill out, but I pretty much never want to chill out). The all-ages thing wasn't exactly my jam because I'm a crotchety old lady, but I got over it. Just like, keep the 18-year-olds dressed as angels at arm's distance, 'kay?
As with many of these shows, I don't remember a perfect setlist of every track that was dropped (I don't feel guilty in this case, because I think a lot of things were mixed in unique ways that rendered them not-quite-recognizable). What I do remember is the insanely epic (an overused word, but one that is appropriate here) nature of the entire affair. I'm mostly going to brush over the early sets -- Destructo and Dillon Francis were pretty much the usual (having seen both a few times before), Gesaffelstein was something new and interesting and I really enjoyed his set.
Joker, whose upcoming album The Vision (out November 8) is a high contender for one of my top albums of the year, dropped an amazing set. His original tracks are huge live, and "Slaughterhouse," "My Trance Girl," "Purple City," and others tore apart the dance floor. I would like to cage Joker and store him in a room in my house and make him play for me all day every day. Is that rude? His dark, heavy beats were just what a Haunted Mansion called for. I'm the biggest sucker for everything dark and grimy. I like feeling like there's imminent danger lurking behind every corner at shows, and that's just the emotion that good dark dubstep seems to evoke.
This was my first time seeing both Joker and Skream & Benga, and I can finally say I fully comprehend why Skream & Benga have risen to such greatness. That's not to say I didn't love them before, but I think I wore them out a bit in my early stages of dubstep discovery, and while I've since had a healthy appreciation for their releases, I've never been so overwhelmed by how good they are at what they do.
From the sheer perfection of the grime that they played to the energy and chemistry between the two of them, if you ever see Skream & Benga together, they will make you either appreciate your favorite heterosexual life partner to the max (shout out to @vickythump, the Benga to my Skream or the Skream to my Benga or whatever) or long to have one. You can tell that these two work together perfectly and complement each other well both inside and outside of music; from playing awesome sets as Skream & Benga to crafting poppier tracks as Magnetic Man to raging and partying together, they're a match made in dubstep heaven.
Lately, I'm a fan of including mixes instead of individual tracks to capture the overall feel of a show. Skream & Benga definitely dropped some of the tracks from this In New DJs We Trust radio mix from October 13, such as Coki's "Macca" and (I'm pretty sure) Killsonik's remix of Nero's "Crush on You". Additional props for playing The Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up" and closing their set with Rage Against the Machine's "Killing In The Name," that's never been a bad idea, even if I've seen it happen before.
Finally: it was great to catch Skream's disco set at Yotel after the show, although his later tweets indicate that none of the artists were treated very well by that venue. It's nice to see a DJ do something outside the realm of what they're known for, and Skream seemed to be having a lot of fun with it (or so I'd guess from his singing and dancing along to the tunes). Skream and Benga, you're the cutest, and I mean that in the least emasculating way possible!