Last Friday night Denver’s beloved Cervantes’ Masterpiece served up a hefty dose of hometown love, and we’re STILL buzzing with plenty of reason to back it up. In addition to being a dual venue night, both stages were hosting epic scales of supreme talent. From the eccentric bass freak The Gaslamp Killer on the main Ballroom to electro-soul local Marvel Years crushing it with live drumming from Colby Buckler, there was plenty of diversity to indulge. The night itself was an incredible success with a mixture of banging beats and an awesome crowd, but my highlights were in a league of their own.
Capturing our attention in the first round was Maddy O’ Neal, who recently debuted her solo productions and has been rolling out releases and shows steadily since. Taking over the Other Side early on, it was a special performance to witness after seeing the growth from her beginnings with Krooked Drivers to where she is now. There’s nothing better than seeing an artist you admire reach atmospheric new heights, and on Friday night she laid it out for everyone to see. Joined by Kevin Donohue of Sunsquabi for a special unreleased collaboration, the vibes were riding high as O’Neal kept the mile high love flowing. Denver rapper Jordan Polovina of Grim & Darling/Whiskey Blanket graced the stage during her set as well, lending his masterful skills as a cellist and MC. Hitting the main ballroom at the same time was Russ Liquid, an experimental bass loving producer who always receives a gracious welcome from the Denver crowd. Russ certainly did not disappoint with his glitchy funk, all pulled together with his signature trumpet blows. If you’re wondering what his set may have sounded like, this most recent All Good Records Episode hosted by Russ will give you a damn good taste.
The Other Side beckoned as Lettuce/Break Science drummer Adam Deitch prepared to debut his official producer set, and he wasted no time in laying down the groove. Sandwiched between two electro-soul acts, it was a bit of an unexpected turn to see the man without his kit, and he quite literally blew our minds away with his sensual and dance-fueled grooves. If you were expecting funk, he gave you a little bit, and if you were expecting hip-hop bangers, there weren’t very many to be found – instead, Deitch focused on pumping out feel-good tracks that were well suited for the dance floor but also prepped and primed for getting down with your special someone. “It’s those beats you wanna lay back at home to after a long day, just to make you feel good while you’re winding down.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself – if you get a chance to catch this drummer out of his usual funky element, we highly suggest you drop everything and get your ass to his show.
I’ve been a fan of LA’s Jason Chung, aka Nosaj Thing, since he started producing back in 2009. After catching him at a handful of festival slots, I was looking forward to seeing him at one of my favorite venues. Transforming the Ballroom into a hallucinogenic wonderland, Nosaj’s visual production artistry came bustling in full force; another perk of seeing him in an intimate club. Thick, blazing lines marching against bright backdrops kept the audience glued to the stage in awe. After releasing his latest album, No Reality, a follow-up to last year’s Fate this past April, it was a pleasure to hear some of it live. If you’re a fan of downtempo with fat bass lines and washed yet haunting synths, Nosaj Thing will give you exactly what you need.
I’ve seen The Gaslamp Killer more times than I can count, yet I’m always coming back for more. This beat scene veteran has been consistently pushing the envelope with experimental bass since the beginning, and has never produced anything less than worthy of a playlist staple. Only three days before this, he dropped his second studio album to date on us – Podcast 437 – which also premiered a brand new TGK original (!!!). If you’ve seen him live, you know two things for certain: the guy is downright nuts once he gets behind the decks, and he makes the crowd go fucking nuts, too. TGK has long been one of my favorite Brainfeed artists, and it remains because of his impeccable ability to conjure bangers while never remaining in a single genre for longer than your attention span can stand. This set in particular will go down in my memory as one of his absolute best – he loves Denver, and we love him back.
Marvel Years was throwing it down on the Other Side until close, so it was a no brainer to peep the set. Drummer Colby Buckler lent his explosive drumming to the set, which was already bumping with the manic grooves of Marvel Years himself, and we were also treated to some bass rhythm goodness from Sunsquabi’s Andrew Clymer to round it all out. To say it was a dance floor party truly sums it up – the space between the crowd and stage was minimal, and everyone was rockin’ big smiles with their hands in the air. Electro-soul has a special place in Colorado’s heart, and it’s because of how well it brings our music scene together – we all need that groove, and there’s no reason to let it stop.
Big ups always to Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom and Euphonic Conceptions for putting this mastery together.
All photos by Brien Vincent for Compose Yourself Mag.