It can’t be captured on Instagram, and a shaky YouTube video would never do it justice. Even describing Pretty Lights’ set as “pretty lights” seems to fall short of a good description.
It doesn’t matter if you are a fan of dubstep or not. When American electronic music artist and Colorado native Derek Vincent Smith takes his show out of the warehouse and moves it outdoors to the Red Rocks stage, he provides a multi-sensory experience that ranks high on the list of top summer concerts.
In a short time, Pretty Lights has gone from opening for acts like STS9 and Widespread Panic to shredding through the festival circuit — and now he’s a commanding headlining act on national tours. Pretty Lights played back-to-back Friday and Saturday shows over the weekend at Red Rocks Amphitheater.
Spinning under the stage set of a bridge and what appeared to be nightscape scene from a New York City borough, Smith fueled the amped-up crowd of club kids and hippies with more than two hours of music and light shows on Friday night.
A good chunk of the show was devoted to new music released last year, with “PL vs Radiohead vs Nirvana vs NIN” and “I Know the Truth.” The beats married with soul kept the crowd together when he finished the
night with “Hot Like Sauce” and “Finally Moving,” a song where he sampled Etta James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” only for it to be stolen and sped up by Flo Rida for his song “Good Feeling.”
Smith addressed the controversy by saying, “Just because they stole it doesn’t mean we can’t play it.”
Evan Semón is a Denver freelance writer and photographer and regular contributor to Reverb. See more of his work.
Todd Radunsky is a Boulder-based photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb.