Owning up to its current reputation as the “the best place on the planet for dubstep” (according to all four headlining DJs at Global Dub Festival on Friday), Colorado filled Red Rocks with underwear and furry-boot-clad beauty. All responded with ecstasy to hundreds of sub-bass drops that assaulted the crowd over the nearly seven-hour show. Headliners started with Canadians Downlink and Datsik, wrapped up with Brits Doctor P and Flux Pavilion, and bathed the mass of light-wielding, gyrating fans with music that never stopped and jumbotron visuals that acted like strands of sticky sugar to tie it together.
An incarnation of electronic music influenced by rave culture in sound and fandom, dubstep continues to enjoy a worldwide surge in popularity. Based on the explosive, throbbing force at the center of Friday night’s euphoric audience, the surge is well-founded.
Yet, new as it felt, the last two DJs — Flux Pavilion and Doctor P — approached the pale. It could be a safer, less experimental phase of their evolutions, but they played set lists with more finesse than bliss. They jumped around plenty behind their rigs, but never connected to the music as much as the audience members did (though that rapture could have been more hallucinogen-born than genuine).
By contrast, the first two DJs in the main course — Datsik and Downlink — showed excitement throughout. None of the four were less than great, but the two earlier acts dared, while the last two focused on polish. Flux Pavilion, in particular, never seemed to grab the audience in the ways his festival counterparts had. Maybe seven hours of electronic roller-coasting from bass drop to bass drop is just a little too much.
Andrew Bisset is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.