“Colorado. We’ve been in this from step f***in’ one!” howled a visibly euphoric Derek Vincent Smith to the sold out Ogden Theatre on Thursday. Fueled by the excitement of seeing Pretty Lights in such an intimate venue, the crowd couldn’t stop screaming even 90 minutes in. But as the show wore into the third hour, Smith’s statement sounded more like a plea to convince his hometown to stick around for the long haul.
Wrapping up his first tour with a full, live band, Pretty Lights didn’t disappoint the rabid bunch. The set was a mix of lounge-y groove with standard EDM that was illuminated by more lights than may have ever been on the Ogden Theatre stage. Thanks in part to a fog machine big enough to fill an arena and frigid temperatures condensing the air whenever the doors opened, it was difficult to see across the venue. Of course, this made Pretty Lights’ signature light work even more intense.
Smith was flanked on the left by one keyboardist and drummer Adam Deitch and on the other by another keyboard and an impressive two-man horn section (Scott Flynn on trombone and Eric Bloom on trumpet). The Denver producer often played bass in the midst of his laptops, mixers, a Moog and turntables.
Still, the drawback was an increasingly obvious clash between Pretty Lights’ traditional EDM sound and the late Beastie Boys instrumental groove Smith is apparently trying to emulate. More than a few fans were overheard to complain that “…the bass doesn’t really ever drop,” or at least not enough, inspiring distraction, even frustration.
It’s just not as surprising or exciting as Pretty Light’s history — and it shows. Of course, it’s a transitional time for Smith, as he’s evolving his corner of EDM, and the music is technically near-perfect and definitely groovy. A little patient investment promises to be worth it, if his past has anything to say about it. And the fans seem more than willing to stay the course — so far.
Seth McConnell is a member of YourHub at The Denver Post and a regular contributor to Reverb.