The first legitimate dubstep act of the night, U.K. duo NERO represents for the best, steeped in the genre's roots yet still willing to flex every aspect that's made the music larger than any other in EDM currently. Comparisons to Skrillex abound, and rightfully so. For all the detractors, Skrillex has an uncanny ability to combine some of the roughest and toughest elements of dance music—basically electro meets heavy metal—and still drench his tracks with emotion. NERO does much the same thing, but if Skrillex's toughness scores a ten, NERO scores a nine. In this case, that's a good thing. That little bit makes a lot of difference in my mind.
The pair, with their Back to the Future wrap around shades, went for the flexibility of a DJ set rather than a full-on live show. Vibe wise NERO bounced from the tell-tale Skrillex bass squelch to their own, more drum 'n' bass laden grooves. It was as high energy as anything heard on the stage all day; pristine festival material. The move away from house and electro seemed to be just what the doctor ordered, because the crowd of youngsters that dominated Perry's stage today went absolutely berserk for each next track. Spinning records afforded NERO the opportunity to drop other producer's material, but that didn't mean there wasn't a heavy focus on their own, including "Must Be the Feeling" and "Promises," which brought live vocalist Alana Watson to the stage to belt it out with the crowd, well familiar with this one, in part, no doubt, because of its inclusion in a recent HP commercial.
EDM is the biggest it's been in the U.S. and there are certain figureheads that can be pointed to, to credit its rise. Skrillex is certainly one of them. I'd argue that NERO is quickly becoming another, because that one notch that this duo refrains from turning it up to, is what gives them a better pop edge than Skrillex, an edge that just might equip NERO to be the winner in taking dubstep mainstream.