Skrillex and Mac Miller Come to Ohio State; An Exercise in People Watching Ensues

Ohio State’s geothermal wells project, a testament to the lengths a university will go to for operational air conditioning, populates a sizable chunk of the campus’s South Oval.  It never really was—and certainly isn’t now—a great concert venue.  And as long as there’s the real Oval, it’s probably not going to be a great anything.  So, head-scratchingly enough, the Ohio Union Activities Board chose to stage their annual Big Free Concert, featuring “rapper” Mac Miller and dubstep king Skrillex, on the South Oval’s trampled grass.

It should be noted, full disclosure, that I don’t like Mac Miller (no good reason, other than the Pittsburgh thing) or Skrillex (the nails on a chalkboard aesthetic has never appealed to me).  Also, a floormate played Skrillex’s “Cinema” on a constant loop last fall, which led to a falling out with said floormate—let’s call him “Jacob”—one week into the school year.  As I type this, the not-so-gentle strains of Meek Mill emanate from Jacob’s room, which is an improvement, albeit not much of one.

And yet I was excited!  While the performers didn’t interest me, I recognized the Big Free Concert’s real value: namely, in being a crazy-good people watching event.

My crew, which awkwardly included Jacob, arrives on the scene at 6:30.  There was DJ AXCESS, spinning away, and there was a tall male clad in a shirt that read “DTF 1”, an erotic play on The Cat in the Hat’s Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Somewhere, Dr. Seuss was either cringing or, more likely, “DTF 2.”  The shirt sparked a debate about whether it offered its wearer a competitive advantage pulling women.  The general sentiment seemed to be “no,” unless she resembled the Lorax.  A decked-out graduate (origins unknown—OSU’s cap and gown ceremony won’t happen for another month) surveys the landscape, flanked by family members of various hair colors.  The concert seems to surprise her.  I guess I’d be a little distraught in this situation, too, but what does that matter?  Seeing her early evening photo shoot foiled by thousands of smashed college students is really, really funny.

This might be the most diverse assemblage of humans, ever.  A decidedly Caucasian male leans idly against a tree, Jamaican flag draped over his shoulders.  What does this mean?  I don’t have time to ponder the blatant disparagement of American exceptionalism—soon a girl in Hello Kitty pajamas gallops by.  Why isn’t she a bigger deal?  I feel like the world has a lot to learn from a girl in Hello Kitty pajamas at a Skrillex show.  Perhaps she has something to say about fracking or, maybe, super PACs.  It bothers me that we’ll never know.

Mac Miller sends an ominous message into the Twitterverse (“fashionably late”) and people that have nowhere to go suddenly bemoan an extra half-hour of waiting.  Luckily, the issue is rectified when DJ Clockwork emerges onstage and does things you’d expect a guy named DJ Clockwork to do.  He draws the loudest cheers by ad-libbing directives like “Y’all better be high tonight” and “Don’t stop sipping” over Tyga, and everyone complies.  The security guards, relegated by now to the South Oval’s periphery, look on longingly and dream of DJ Clockwork’s authority.

The ratio of sunglasses-to-sunlight leans heavily in favor of sunglasses, something like 10,000 to 0.  There aren’t many “preps”, but the ones I see could pass for distant cousins of Ralph Lauren, virtual parodies of the frat boy archetype.  More people are wearing throwback jerseys—Danny Ferry, TO (Eagles), and, adorably, Pacman Jones (Bengals).  A justifiably timid ten year-old with an apparent hatred of vowels wears a shirt that reads “DNT HRT ME.”  One kid paces anxiously gripping his POP Phone, a retro handset that plugs into iPhones.  The device looks cumbersome and ridiculous, I say, but my skepticism is quickly dispelled with a visit to the official POP Phone website: “The chic design combines classic style with modern elegance, resulting in a fashionable and comfortable handset finished with a soft luxurious texture…and unparalleled conversation comfort.”  Oh.  Nevermind, then!

Mac Miller, unprovoked, enlightens the audience as to what he looks for in a female: “I like a girl with good grades.  Intelligent chicks.”  He could’ve stopped there, secure in his preference for intellectually-inclined women, but no!  Mac adds, “But really, I love a freak.”  This proclamation elicits applause, presumably from every girl not on the Dean’s List.

But really, everyone is here to see Skrillex.  After a five minute countdown, the artist formerly known as Sonny Moore takes the stage to perform his routine of knob-twisting, head-bopping antics.  I inhale an inordinate amount of secondhand smoke, most of it not the byproduct of Marlboros.  Some daredevils are climbing trees and light posts.  Skrillex shouts them out, along with “that group of crazy hula hoopers in the corner.”  We are encouraged to chant for Nate, a friend of Skrillex’s that couldn’t make the show due to an unspecified injury.  Get well soon, Nate!  Skrillex tells us that we’re beautiful, and is adamant in his desire for the men “to be taking care of all the ladies tonight.”  (Seriously—he repeats this line four more times.)  More lighters than cell phones are held up for “Cinema”, which is a strange occurrence in 2012, but probably not for Skrillex.  A very woozy man skips through the crowd and asks no one in particular, “How real is this?”  Funny, I thought.  I had been wondering the same thing.

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