As I left downtown Denver and began heading back home to Boulder, I simply could not keep a smile off my face. The night had turned out 110% better than I had originally anticipated – the music and the experience had kept me high for hours after I left Cervantes. I reflected on the night as I watched the skyscrapers disappear from my rearview mirror.
Having a handy-dandy press pass, I was allowed access into the VIP/Backstage area. With a perfect view of the stage and not a single sweaty human rubbing up against me, I had full freedom to boogie down and take everything in like a dose of stimulation. I had the pleasure of speaking with a few of the artists from the lineup and gathered notes on what they said the show was like.
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom was filling up quickly by the time I arrived, the Krooked Drivers were hyping up the crowd with their jams. Seeming a little ‘krooked’, Maddy and Donnie were soaking up every moment of their set. Even just the way they move while on stage adds to their performance and inspires the crowd to move, too. As a couple, the Krooked Drivers easily mesh their sounds into a comprehensive style of electro-hip-hop that keeps past eras’ music alive by sampling old vinyl and adding electronic bass and drum rhythms. They played tons of the fan-favorites, a few tunes from their brand new EP Still Life, and managed to throw in some remixes of popular songs. Maddy and Donnie left the stage accompanied by a rowdy round of applause and smiles on their faces.
A few minutes later, Frenchies and newest members of All Good Records, The Geek x Vrv approached the decks to amaze the audience members with their smooth and dynamic tracks; combining the much-loved funk, soul, jazz and hip-hop blend that is native to All Good Records and Lowtemp labels (which they are also a part of). These two dudes had arrived in the United States for the first time in their lives just two days prior to this show. Mark my words when I say that The Geek x Vrv are exactly what the U.S. is looking for – their sample-heavy style has the soul that grabs onto you. Their music is full of driving bass beats, sensational rhythm, and penetrating womps and wubs. Every single head in the crowd was bobbing, hands thrown in the air and shouts of approval rang through the venue each time they dropped another funky-ass beat. To the excitement of the audience, they played “Get Down” from fellow All Good Records producer GRiZ. Their set was anything but boring, never giving up the attention that they so much deserved. In fact, it was evident that this show was particularly meaningful for their careers, and to see people so down with their music had to be humbling. By the time their set was finished, the whole venue was full-to-the-brim with an eclectic array of the Colorado crew, making it impossible to navigate.
Late Night Radio, a personal favorite of mine, hopped right up on the stage and proceeded (to put it mildly) kill it. LNR’s stage presence is larger than life – as just one very tall, bearded man in a Grassroots hat, he conquers the decks and naturally fills the space of the entire room simply with the heart and soul he pours into his music. Every artist in his genre is full of soul, but LNR’s absolute immersion in the moment creates a live show that is impossible to pass off as ‘mediocre’. From the way he grooves to the beats he’s laying down to the way he sings along to his samples, LNR always inspires the audience to live in the moment of his music. The heavy-hitting bass hits so flawlessly in rhythm it feels like it is your own heartbeat. After the first drop, I couldn’t help but start cheesin’ so ridiculously big because the bass shook the wooden floors to the point that it made my feet tingle. Twice throughout his set he brought out saxophonist Clark Smith of Dynohunter to accompany him. I dare to say that Smith could give even Dominic Lalli a run for his money. The two looked like they were just having a blast up there, going back and forth in their musicality. I didn’t recognize the songs they played, making me wonder if there’s a collab in the making. Late Night Radio’s set overall was compelling and gratifying.
Because of two delayed flights, xxyyxx didn’t arrive to the venue until about 1:30am, but still only a half an hour late for his set. He profusely apologized and thanked everyone that had stuck around to see his set. Xxyyxx made sure no one left his set disappointed, as it was evident that he was trying to throw down the dirtiest and hyphiest tracks to keep the party going. The texture of his songs is simple, and the layers are not incredibly complex but rather the sounds he uses for these layers are very purposeful and precise, blending together in a style that can’t belong to any certain genre. He spanned a wide range of styles, from Tipper-esque to slow and sexy R&B. After a while, he slowed it down to a more chill vibe to close out the show. Only 19 years young, xxyyxx has an old soul far surpassing his age and talent that will ensure him a long life of music.
This show has a lot of meaning in my memory. After talking with a lot of the artists, I learned that these people are just the lucky, talented few that are just excited to be living out their dreams and watching their lives become something that once upon a time they had only imagined. I left Cervantes inspired and grooving along to the wonderful music still resonating in my head.
Written By: Jaelyn Kohl
Photos By: Dylan Bowman