Review: Nero with Dillon Francis at Roseland Ballroom 03/31/12 by John Esposito


The moment we had all been waiting for had finally come. Saturday, March 31st marked the date the exceptionally gifted dubstep duo from London, Nero, stopped in New York City on their Second Reality tour. What better place for it to be held than at my favorite venue, Roseland Ballroom. If any sound system in the entire city could captivate the delightful sounds and thunderous bass, this was it. With the help of stunning Alana Watson on vocals, Dan Stephens and Joe Ray designed a once in a lifetime performance in support of their LP, Welcome Reality. With all of this looming over my head, it became more and more difficult to hold back my excitement.

I arrived at Roseland Ballroom promptly at 10 PM, located in the awe-inspiring theater district. Walking down 53rd street I even found myself engulfed with all the glitz and glamour. There were the bright neon signs and tourists dressed in I <3 NY t-shirts snapping away with their cameras, hoping to bring a small piece of the distinctive ambiance home with them. I can’t say I blame them. After meeting my photographer Max outside, we walked right in, instantly bobbing our heads as we began weaving through hundreds of Nero admirers to secure a spot front and center for the show.

Alex English kicked off the night at 10:30, delivering some explosive tracks and amazing opening energy, giving the anxious mass a glimpse of what we were all waiting for. At one point he threw an entire case of water, one by one, into the crowd. A water fight ensued, Alex English vs. the crowd, both sides loving every second of it. Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the openers when you’re enveloped in suspense, just for a glimpse of the “Daft Punk of dubstep.” However, the next artist to hit the booth, moombahton enthusiast, Dillon Francis, had stage presence that made it impossible to overlook.

Throwing down at 11:15, Dillon struck hard and fast with Hulk – Clockwork (Dillon Francis Remix), Que Que – Dillon Francis & Diplo ft Maluca, 100% in the Bitch – Porter Robinson, followed by a brand new collaboration with Doctor P. Using an array of new songs along with awesome mash ups and classics, he mesmerized the packed venue with each patron eating out of the palm of his hand. A small dose of dubstep in the form of Fire Hive – Knife Party followed by Bass Cannon – Flux Pavilion, was all it took for the crowd to react like wild hyenas, hungry for more. Closing things out he unleashed his own smash single IDGAFOS into Rattle – Bingo Players, which were both clearly fan favorites and a great way to end his set. He gave his sincere gratitude to the crowd, walked off the stage, then I realized… It was almost time!

Once Nero’s lights and incredible booth were exposed, I faced the audience only to be blinded by hundreds of flashes from every spectator taking a photo or video. After taking a few moments to regain my vision, Nero approached the booth and I couldn’t remember feeling anything like that before. The atmosphere combined with all the history surrounding “The Worlds Greatest Ballroom” produced an entirely different vibe. It was almost like we were part of a brand new, highly anticipated Broadway show with edge, taking place in a distant future. Nero dressed for the part wearing ultramodern hairstyles and attire, donning sunglasses straight out of a science fiction movie. It was the perfect fit.

When Nero kicked things off with Symphony 2808 I was taken into a completely “second reality” and I was not alone. The aura emitted by just the first few minutes of the set was absurd. The custom LEDs, visuals from the projector, and of course the music itself all came together immaculately to thrill the crowd with each passing second. Once Guilt VIP started, Alana Watson, appearing out of what seemed like thin air, displayed her remarkable and uplifting vocals dazzling each and every onlooker. The harmonious sounds all came together flawlessly, better than anything I could ever remember seeing at a show.

Innocence was dropped into New Life which created pandemonium and had the mob of dubsteppers itching for more. That’s precisely what we got. Promises encouraged the entire crowd to sing in unison, followed by booming bass that instantly produced a mosh pit less than a foot away from where I was standing. Crush on You – The Jets (Nero Remix) only made the dance floor more chaotic, and they were unwilling to give us a break from the RAGE. Must be the Feeling fueled the menacing conduct yet again. Encoring with Me & You – Nero (Steve Angelo Remix) the duo blended the remix into the original track. It was the perfect way to end the night and give all of us a chance to collect ourselves and our faces that had been melted onto the floor.

I was completely blown away by their performance and words can’t fully describe the “second reality” experience. With Dan and Joe taking turns on the keyboard, and Alana’s out-of-this-world ballad, everything fused together creating a magical vibe. The set was only a little over an hour, but what it lacked in duration was outclassed by the overall quality and character of the performance. This show really came alive, bringing you on a journey into the future, accompanied by melodic tunes that lure you in, slowly developing into sinister mind bending bass. I highly recommend taking the time to catch Second Reality when they hit a “theater nearest you.” Trust me, this is a journey you won’t want to come back from!

John Esposito for EDMNYC

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Dillon Francis Partial Tracklist:

Hulk – Clockwork (Dillon Francis Remix)

Que Que – Dillon Francis & Diplo feat. Maluca

100% in the Bitch – Porter Robinson

ID – Dillon Francis & Doctor P

Paddling Out – Mike Snow (Wolfgang Gartner Remix)

Knife Party – Fire Hive

Who is Ready to Jump – Chuckie (Dillon Francis Remix)

Original Don – Major Lazer (Flosstradamus Remix)

Bass Cannon – Flux Pavilion

6 Underground – Sneaker Pimps vs. Spitfire – Porter Robinson (Kill the Noise Remix)

Ante Up – Mop vs. MOTA – Flosstradamus

Be Faithful – Fatman Scoop vs. IDGAFOS – Dillon Francis vs. You Da One – Rihanna

Rattle – Bingo Players

Nero Partial Tracklist:

2808 Symphony – Nero

Doomsday – Nero

Guilt VIP – Nero

My Eyes – Nero

Innocence – Nero

In the Way – Nero

New Life – Nero

Fugue State – Nero

Angst – Nero

Reaching Out – Nero

Departure – Nero

Scorpions – Nero

Promises – Nero

Crush on You – The Jets (Nero Remix)

Must be the Feeling – Nero

Me & You – Nero (Steve Angelo Remix)

Me & You – Nero


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