Pretty Lights, Talib Kweli at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 8-16-13 (photos, review)By Colleen Smith | August 19th, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Friday night at Red Rocks, Derek Vincent Smith â€” the pioneering electronic-dance-music-hip-hop-local known as Pretty Lights â€” returned to his home state for the first of two sold out shows. Though he travels the world, headlining some of the biggest festivals and venues, it’s always here, on his own turf, that the glowing, young, intoxicated masses bring the most passion, or, at least, need to party. They sported painted faces, pink false eyelashes, belly dancer attire, flags worn as capes, tats and hats, sombreros, Native American headdresses, trucker caps studded with collectible pins, furry bear heads â€” a culture of nouveau hippies.
And on this Colorado run, Vincent returns in the wake of a new, rather revolutionary album, “A Color Map of the Sun,” that abandoned his strictly electronic-producer roots and introduced live music he then sampled. But even with the new approach to music and his live band on stage (two keyboards, a trap set, a pair of horns, guitar), Vincent jammed his electro tunes as many local fans are familiar with. The live band accompanied him for about two-thirds of the show, but Pretty Lights did work solo, too. The instrumentation added depth to the EDM, making the music full-bodied.
As always, the light show was brilliant, a consciousness-altering concert for the frivolous party subculture that follows Pretty Lights. And Red Rocks was the perfect place to stage the mesmerizing show. Colorful lasers, strobes, mirror balls, rotating spotlights, banks of stage lights supported his electronic-soul music. A Pretty Lights show radiates with fans in flickering eyeglasses, flashing necklaces, laser gloves and luminous wands. The friendly crowd volleyed with colorful balloons holding tiny LED lights.
And these engrossing visuals serve as the focal point of the show. The music is there, yes, providing something to move too, but the true focus of a Pretty Lights show is in the namesake. The tactile bass boomed loudly enough to serve as a defibrillator or a slap back into reality for anyone too caught up in the visuals. The party raged until about 1 a.m. as Pretty Lights provided the backdrop with a mix of new and old tunes, and as the glow sticks started fade and flicker, he called it a night.
Colleen Smith, a longtime contributor to The Denver Post, is the author of the acclaimed novel â€śGlass Haloâ€ť and the gift book â€śLaid-Back Skierâ€ť by Friday Jones Publishing.
Jason Bach is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.
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