It’s 3:00 a.m.. I’m at Pacha watching The Chainsmokers bump tracks when, suddenly, I am thrown back in time as a crimson force overtakes the beat, a presence I had not felt since long ago, roaring back remixed from the cobwebs of my mind and retrofitted into the present as it demands one thing only as tribute: For me to take that cookie. And stick it up my “YEAH”.
It was “Nookie” by Limp Bizkit — the song that introduced the world to Fred Durst and sixth grade me to parental advisory stickers. I revert to my middle-school self, gawkier than a Gawker photographer doing the flamenco, yet filled with enough teenage angst to power The Vans Warped Tour.
The faithful Fred Durst followers were in bliss, jump-dancing, moshing, proudly doing it all for the nookie — but the crowd was just not into it. They looked pissed, vibes and make-out sessions annihilated, faces scouring The Chainsmokers as if they were the little brother who threw on the Power Rangers theme song at your sweet sixteen. Laughing, one of The Chainsmokers says, “Sorry, I’ve always wanted to do that.” Here’s the crazy thing: I would totally do the same thing.
There’s that part of me, that awkward sixth grader who wants to be a rock god and blast “Crawling” by Linkin Park at maximum volume. I’m so aware of how cringe-worthy it all is, but those songs were dope then and they are even doper now with a fine mist of nostalgia.
The throwback is a move I’m seeing more frequently with every DJ set. For instance, at Mysteryland 2016 I heard the third greatest techno song of all time, “Better Off Alone,” by Alice DeeJay, remixed by both The Chainsmokers and Zedd’s Dead.
For the record, the second greatest techno song of all time, “Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Remix),” by New Order, better known as “That blood rave song from Blade,” was the jam of the previous year.
Are DJs spinning these older tracks for the pure novelty of it, or are these throwback moments what we are really pining for? My favorite DJs have all utilized throwbacks in their sets. I love The Chainsmokers because they love all my angsty middle school music too. I love NERVO because their sets are one big house party filled with pop classics. I love The Glitch Mob because they retrofit rock hits on their war drums and light-obelisks. My excitement for shows is no longer about hearing my favorite tracks, but wondering what throwback is up next.
Whenever I invite my friends to concerts the typical reply I get is “I don’t know any of their songs.” Do you like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? What about “Kernkraft 400” by Zombie Nation? Of course you do, you’re human. Both themes were spun by Griz and Skrillex respectively. In pluperfect honesty, I only realized I liked The Floozies because I heard them playing the Star Wars “Cantina Theme” from two stages away.
The true joy of shows is not knowing all of a DJ’s tracks, but simply reveling in good music. For every sunburnt Skrillex fan who has been holding her spot upfront all day, there’s an unamused boyfriend slowly reaching his WUB-limit. Throwing down “Bohemian Rhapsody” unexpectedly is not just a tribute to Queen, but a moment to participate in something that is unarguably beloved by all.
There’s a dual effect to these throwbacks: the older people are instantly warped back to high school dances, and then you get new kids thinking this is something hot and new. I’ll admit I didn’t know “Faith” was by George Michael. Why? Because I first heard it covered on a Limp Bizkit album.
It’s The Chainsmokers at Mysteryland 2016. I’m proclaiming how I want to be like Kanye when suddenly — “here we go here we go now!” It’s now a Drowning Pool show. We throw our bodies to the floor as per the song’s instructions. Even though the crowd was digging “Bodies,” one Chainsmoker apologized again saying “Sorry, I’ve always wanted to do that.”
Except he wasn’t sorry at all.