Saturday, January 4, 2014

Decadence NYE @ Denver Convention Center, CO 12/30/13 & 12/31/13 (Review)

A Review By: Kenny Emmer
As I approached the massive Denver Convention Center for Decadence 2013 I couldn't help but feel a little nostalgic. Nostalgic about the fact that I've been attending these kind of shows since 2009 and still can't seem to get tired of them. The enormous crowds of smiling people coming together to just have fun and party like there's no tomorrow can become quite the addictive experience. 2013 turned out to be another big year for that. I know I've said this in previous reviews but honestly I feel truly blessed to live in "Colorful Colorado". The mile high has always been a go-to destination for musicians and artists alike. The EDM scene has become huge out here, especially thanks to Beatport, Triad Dragons, and Sub.Mission. And this year, Denver experienced it's biggest New Years celebration yet. Bringing in massive names including Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, Tiesto, Datsik, Nervo, Above & Beyond, Dada Life, 12th Planet, and big up-and-comers such as Keys'n'Krates and TJR, Decadence attracted a record breaking crowd this year. They vastly improved on the setting and stage setup from previous years. Each stage stood side by side to each other, separated by a wall, but were far enough away from each other that overlapping sound wasn't an issue. The Sub.Mission/Local stage was located in the middle between the two larger stages along with many art and merchandise booths. Free water filling stations could be found within each area of the venue and the alcohol booths were organized nicely throughout. My only complaint in terms of setting would be how dark it was in there. Aside from when being nearer to a stage or a concession stand, I could barely see where I was walking, which probably isn't ideal for an event containing thousands of intoxicated show-goers. It was a breath of fresh air every time a short burst of excessive light illuminated the entire center for a few seconds. As for the music, absolutely no complaints here. Night 1 met and somewhat exceeded my expectations with their very renowned lineup. Nervo hyped up the crowd early in the night, dropping many of their hits among other floor banging house tunes. The 2 Australian women glowed on stage, with a positive presence contagious throughout the crowd. Dada Life took the stage after, and this was one of the sets that exceeded my expectations. I wasn't a huge Dada fan before, but after their hilarious and extremely energetic set at Decadence I can honestly say I'm all for living in Dada land. Their light shows, cartoon-y visuals, and hyped up MC'ing really turned the crowd wild. Not to mention they mixed very well, incorporating other heavy hitters into their own, such as their popular "Kick Out The Epic Mother" into "Jack To The Sound of The Underground" by Nicky Romero. I was a little disappointed in myself for having such little faith in them going in. But am I glad I stayed there when they got on stage.

After Dada Life came the legendary Tiesto.
I was shocked and beyond excited when they announced this king of electronic to the lineup. And he absolutely delivered in every way possible, dropping classic upon classic while mixing in more modern house music accompanied by touching, beautiful visuals and intense light/laser shows. The way Tiesto presents himself on stage and speaks to the crowd, simultaneously jumping and throwing his hands in the air is a testament to how experienced this dude is when it comes to EDM. He's been doing this for 20 years. He lives and breathes electronic music, and you can tell when watching him. Doing this for so long, his sets never fail at mesmerizing and energizing a crowd of thousands. Tiesto was hands down my favorite set of the night. Bassnectar closed out the night with his hard hitting heavy bass music to a large, faithful Colorado fanbase. Bassnectar rarely passes up an opportunity to play a show in CO, especially one the magnitude of Decadence. His set contained mostly dubstep, drum & bass, and some trap and funk music and was full of strobe and lasers to intensify the surroundings. The crowd was so massive I can recall it taking nearly 10 minutes to get anywhere close to the stage. Bassnectar made for an epic closer, sending out tens of thousands of ringing ears on their way to rest up for Day 2.
 The second day started strong with opening acts such as Odesza, Paul Basic, and Supervision. But it was Above & Beyond that went beyond everything I've ever dreamt about. The Anjunabeats founders put on a very touching, beautiful, and spacey set to a sea of extremely faithful fans. A&B performed mainly tracks off their recent "Group Therapy" album. Their visuals were very oceanic and astral in nature, and occasionally expressed messages meant to inspire and hype up the crowd in preparation for the coming year. A&B resembles a part of electronic music unseen by much of the scene, in which they are not just about the party aspect of dance music, but the more serious, romantic, and spiritual side of it. During "Sun and Moon" one of the members brought on stage one lucky girl to stand at the decks in front of the crowd.
The raw happiness and emotion from her body language as she covered her mouth and threw her hands into the air at the drop of the beat radiated within the crowd, and brought chills to my spine. I was in awe by the amazing set these 3 guys put on for Decadence, and can honestly say that A&B was probably my favorite set of the night. I just wish it could've been longer. We then made our way over to Datsik which was quite the change of pace from A&B. Datsik threw down intense, heavy hip-hop infused dubstep and drum & bass full of strobe and lasers. Datsik has always had love for CO, and got plenty of attention from the crowd, who were all very antsy for hometown hero Pretty Lights to take the stage. 2013 ended on a high note with Ft. Collins based Derek Vincent Smith performing for his Colorado family, bringing along his live band containing members of Break Science and Lettuce. Pretty Lights performed a little over a 3 hour set for Denver on NYE, spoiling all his fans with favorite tunes ranging from all of his mixtapes including Hot Like Sauce, High School Art Class, and We Must Go On. Laser shows were at maximum level, visuals were trippy, urban, and mesmerizing, and the instrumental talent was beyond impressive. Live horns, guitar, and bass replaced much of Smith's digitalized samples and the drums were enhanced significantly. At the countdown to midnight, Pretty Lights performed the classic "Final Countdown" remix. And as 2013 turned into 2014 and the confetti shot up over the crowd, Chuck Berry's "Johnny Be Good" echoed throughout the convention center. Pretty Lights closed out their 3 hour set by expressing mad love for his hometown and the fact that marijuana prohibition officially ends on that day in CO, provoking as much of the crowd as possible to light up in honor of such a major step in society. He then introduced the bandmates, and ended on I Know the Truth mixed in with another song.
Decadence was a huge success this year. They vastly improved on the entire setup of the convention center and seemed very organized throughout the entirety of the show. Although there was the occasional black-out by young kids exceeding their substance limit and being carried out by security, people were overall in good spirits and just having the time of their life. That's it for 2013, a great year for great music. I am truly excited and optimistic for what 2014 has in store. Peace


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