Every year around the middle of July, ravers in Colorado and far beyond stir towards Red Rocks. It is here where the rave truly meets the rocks, where Global Dance Festival occurs over 3 surreal summer nights.
Get ready. Arise is coming. Connect mind, body, and soul all in a three-day festival from August 5th through the 7th at Sunrise Ranch in Loveland. Even with a stacked lineup like Jurassic 5, Papadosio, Elephant Revival, Bass Physics, Arise is workshop and yoga oriented giving it a special and unique appeal. Unlike the popular corporate run festivals currently dominating the scene, the roots run deep with Arise, allowing it to blossom like a beautiful perennial for its fourth straight year.
Amidst the surrounding rumors that dubstep is dead, top-tier acts like Zeds Dead still know how to keep it fresh on the big stage.
When it comes to their signature headliner set at Red Rocks Amphitheater, it’s no question they come ready to rattle bones and shake entire psyches. Given that the Toronto-based DJ/Producer duo sold out the entire amphitheater, it is ironically and affectionately known as Dead Rocks when they come to play. This third-edition was far from dead; with heavyweight support and a slew of fresh tracks after a long hiatus of releases, Zeds Dead brought a rude awakening Thursday night to those who take heavy bass music lightly.
In broad daylight, I walked into Red Rocks Thursday before the doors were scheduled to open. As I looked up from the press pit, I noticed that there were 4, maybe 5 people also meandering around the amphitheater. Hm, this struck me as odd, for I had never seen the venue SO EMPTY. This familiar feeling of the calm before the storm sat in the air rigidly. That’s when Pusher broke the stillness with the sounds of future synths to warm up the night. His song selection fit the mood of the headliner well. as the music started to develop its hype sounds, it also started to dive deeper into thick garage house.
Rezz is an act that I’ve seen lurking across various lineups this year, but I never investigated further. She opened up her set with the mega-popular Pretty Lights track “I Know The Truth” and already I knew this girl wasn’t messing around. Clad in a typical forward-facing baseball cap and a pair of not-too-typical LED goggles, her incredibly unique presence clashed strongly with her selection of riddim and dark bass music. Rezz was another opener that played on the headliner’s deep, sub-bass saturated style - refreshing it was to hear new era dubstep played with classic neuro-bass.
The night would take several turns after the relatively chilled-out openers. Festival hot-shot NGHTMRE took an earlier-than-expected slot and brought his tasteful brand of mind-bending bootlegs. This was my first time seeing NGHTMRE live but I was no stranger to his production and DJ style. Taking intros to popular songs and twisting them into a gnarly drop, NGHTMRE keeps a dynamic mixture of sing-along jams that metamorph into massive bangers. The list of songs I could mention would break the internet, but the one that hit me was his recent collaboration with Dillon Francis, “Need You”. The moombahton slapper combines two amazingly talented producers with a knack for pumping out dance-ready tracks. The crowd let out a huge roar at each drop, with the front 10 rows jumping like kangaroos. NGHTMRE also had a strange and extremely noticeable sound cut half way through the set, presumably for the stage crew to remedy recurring issues throughout the night. When NGHTMRE stepped off, I rushed back to the pit for my most anticipated act of the night: Lil Dicky.
Many attendees were confused at the dynamic of having an emcee follow a hot DJ in the middle of the lineup, but “professional rapper” Lil Dicky is far from cold. Not exactly what you’d expect from emcees today; Lil Dicky is a white, red-haired Jewish guy who - very articulately - raps about his shortcomings, being a nerdy white guy, being awkward around women, etc. But it’s so gangster. With nearly impeccable flow, Dicky cracks the crowd up with a genuine display of charisma. His most popular song at the moment is arguably “Save That Money” featuring Fetty Wap. Speaking of whom - Dicky couldn’t show without a decent hype man, so under the most epic stage in America the 17/38-lord Fetty Wap brought his dance moves and distinguishable voice to the set. For the finale, Dicky ended with another catchy and relatable jam “Lemme Freak”. He put a comedic twist on the song by pulling a girl on stage and, well… I want to call it a strip tease! Pantsless, Dicky tried - and maybe succeeded - in wooing a sweet honey off the stage, leaving the crowd laughing, a little bit shocked, and ready to get back into the EDM side of things.
Tchami, a festival headliner in his own right, was slated as the direct support for the night. The mastermind behind many big tracks of yester-year (he had his hand in the production of Turn Down For What), Tchami is a tsunami of massive bass house that takes on a variety of timbres. Unfortunately I don’t have anything objective to say about the set. It tickles my insides when supremely prolific DJ’s can take individual songs in the set and encapsulate my attention into seeing it as one whole cohesive song. A classic case of whole being worth more than the sum of its parts, Tchami set the bar high for the main act. However, these Canadians aren’t ones to be trifled with behind the decks.
When I was a baby raver, Zeds Dead at Decadence was the first massive-scale electronic act I had ever seen. From then on I have tumbled down the EDM rabbit hole all the way to seeing them headline Red Rocks for a third time. Throughout this period, Zeds Dead has never once conformed to a specific genre of EDM. From the Hot Sauce EP to whatever mysterious sorcery they are currently cooking up in the studio for their first full-length album, they’ve touched about every genre possible. Thursday night was a mish-mosh of everything you would expect from a Zeds Dead set. There was grimey dubstep, bouncy deep house, uplifting drum & bass and about a million bass shaking the rocks.
Even with an extensive portfolio of originals, it’s difficult for Zeds Dead to fit in the entire discography within a 2-hour set. It’s interesting watching them develop as artists by seeing which songs they axe from their live sets. Classics like “Rude Boy” and “White Satin” were obvious keepers, but the lack of collaborator Omar LinX present ruled out big hits like “Out For Blood” and “Cowboy”. Slightly to my dismay, I made up for my hurt feelings with raging. I was forced to get my groove on however during the deep, Euro-club shuffle music stage of the night. It was during this point we saw special guests that even had my slightly jaded self flabbergasted. When a song like “Lost You” comes on, it’s already enough to put the crowd in a frenzy. The song took a new face - or rather two - when singers Twin Shadow and D’Angelo Lacy joined the stage to belt out the haunting falsetto verses. From there, it was right back into the dirty-to-deep genre flipping style they have perfected.
Some people have a difficult time following an artist as they transition from one style from the next. However if Zeds Dead made the same exact music they did 5 years ago, they wouldn’t have the expansive fan base they do. They didn’t play my favorite song which I was dearly hoping for, but as much as I wanted to say it was a downer it shows their growth. If anything it showed me how even with new music years later, Zeds Dead is still the same beast with the same face-melting tricks. The same tricks that made their third Red Rocks headliner a massive success and to put the duo at the top of the DJ pecking order, maintaining their reputation for unmatched freshness.
After Party Photo By Nick Veres
For fans of the techno/house scene here in Denver, the crew over at Afterhours Anonymous is a well-known entity at this point. Since their founding they have become renowned for their late-night warehouse parties, but as time has passed they have expanded their repertoire into the more conventional hours of the day as well. Their Proper Sundays events on the patio at Beta Nightclub have become a summertime staple in the Denver music scene, doubling down on their ability to bring in top-notch talent from around the world….and also people’s aptitude for “Sunday Funday.” And when Sharam showed up on the Beta patio, it was no exception.
Originally rising to fame as one half of Deep Dish (along with Dubfire), Sharam’s independent productions have both been supported in the underground circuit, as well as on the international charts. He also has an “Essential Mix of the Year” under his belt, with his August 2009 Essential Mix from Pete Tong’s show being voted to that distinction by BBC listeners. With his site describing his sound as “Ibiza in Vegas”, Sharam showed up in Denver to spread that sound on the Funktion 1, to support of his new album “Retroactive”, and to answer a few of our questions.
The new, now permanent location of Sonic Bloom, is a place that ignites the senses; a blooming, euphoric, celebratory sanctuary where people can go to BE. Located beneath the heavenly Spanish Peaks of Rye, CO, thousands of people gathered, coexisted and celebrated the infinite beauty and awe-inspiring creativity that has helped blossom the Electronic Music community in Colorado.
What a day leading to a wild night. Arguably the event to be at this past weekend, Westword Music Showcase was a spectacular taste of the Colorado music scene. This buffet of music saw artists from near and far at several venues around town.
A lot of people may be unfamiliar with the name DJDS, otherwise known as DJ Dodger Stadium. An interesting moniker comes equipped with some incredibly interesting music from Los Angeles based Jerome LOL and Samo Sound Boy.
We've been following these guys for about the past year now, and are proud at the strides that they have made. For this piece, we had a chance to catch up with lead guitarist Joe Shur, rhythm guitarist Mat Buelt, and drummer AJ Gilman to talk about their upcoming album "Momentous" as well as plans for the summer and the rest of 2016.
Last friday was an unbelievable performance at Red Rocks!! Gramatik destroyed his set, along with Hippie Sabotage, Sweater Beats, The Geek X VRV, and ProbCause for support. The night was filled with a wide variety of music from Hip Hop, Trap, Jam and Heavy Bass music. There were even some special guests at the end of their Gramatik set. If you were not able to attend this fantastic evening, here is our summary of how the night went.
Photo By Reid Godshaw at Harmonic Light
Tribe, I want to tell you about something really magic, a place that connects us all... Summer is the perfect time to let loose and get connected with those around you. To immerse yourself into a frequency that only festivals can bring. The family you immediately build and community helps you grow in just a few short days. With yoga, saunas, and an incredible lineup featuring Ayla Nereo and Shpongle, there is nothing this festival is missing. Just one thing you won’t notice; alcohol.
Ever heard of Eric Krasno? Chances are that's a yes; from co-founding Lettuce and Soulive to writing for a slew of musicians you probably HAVE heard of (50 Cent, Norah Jones, Talib Kweli to name a few), Krasno has had his hands and head fully submerged in the sea that is the music industry for the past 2 decades. Despite winning two Grammy awards, his upcoming album marks first time in his career featuring his voice. We got a chance to dig into this musical mastermind's head:
Denver has become a pinnacle of hip hop and rap music over the last few years which is an incredibly exciting thing for fans. For a long time, every good tour overlooked our beautiful city because they didn’t think we could draw big enough crowds. We have confidently proved the naysayers wrong.
Photo by Tyler Potter
Last week Colorado Culture had the opportunity to sit down and chat with wobble funk master Jordan Panasewicz (also known as Pandasaywhat?!) after his set at the Mishawaka Amphitheatre. Check out the interview and make sure to catch him July 1st at Ophelia’s Denver!
Photo By: Mike DeVita
Physically living up to his name, Damien Orienti (self-titled “Trollphace”— a scarily accurate title for his bubbly physical appearance paired with an eerily mundane personality) has quickly risen to fame in the electronic music community in recent years, establishing himself as one of the most violent DJ’s in the game.
Friday the 13th of May was upon us, but no need to fear; Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom had it covered. They held a two-night blowout with some of the illest hip-hop groups of the last couple decades. The line-up included Immortal Technique, Jedi Mind Tricks, Binary Star, Chino XL, Poison Pen, and DJ Static. It was a throwback to a time when hip-hop was king and the lyricists ruled the land with clever similes and story rhymes.
On June 4th, 2016 the Disco Biscuits made it back to Red Rocks along with Ghostland Observatory and Twiddle. Twiddle set off the show, while Ghostland Observatory helped entertain the audience between the two sets of Disco Biscuits. The openers brought quite the appropriate mood for the headliner; Disco Biscuits. Consisting of four men; one on the guitar, one on bass, one on drums, and one on the keyboard, they create a soothing combination of what some describe as “trance fusion.” This jam band can go from electronic to rock to techno-house to trance all while maintaining the same general vibe.
Wow! The combination of Chromeo, Jamie xx and the magnificent Red Rocks Amphitheater, turned last Thursday, June 2nd into a dance time machine of the last 2 decades of music and beyond. Chromeo AKA Dave 1 and P-Thugg, are an electronic duo from Montreal formed in 2002. Their music is a thrilling combination of dance music, blue-eyed soul and a funky dose of rock, reviving music lovers from a plethora of particular dance junkies. Jamie xx, on the other hand, likes to experiment and expand upon pop, R&B and electronic music, strategically building a new path in the ambitious world of music and inviting the world to join on his intoxicating venture.
The Colorado Culture team had the opportunity to chat with ETC!ETC, check out the exclusive interview:
Touring must present some unique challenges to you as a parent. How do you manage that?
It was definitely hard juggling both at the beginning, but over time its gotten better. The kids are older now so they are busy at school and it keeps their minds (and time) busy while I’m gone. They hardly notice me now lol.
The sounds of euphoric Deep House and Progressive House filled the Gothic Theater last Friday. Speaker of the House along with Two Friends! for support destroyed the dance floor!! The crowd was dancing and grooving for what would turn out to be a truly intimate night. In case you missed the event, here is our breakdown of the evening.