If you want people to like you, follow the “golden rule” – treat them the way you’d like to be treated. If you want people to really like you, follow the “platinum rule” – treat them the way they’d like to be treated. If you want people to profess their undying love and devotion to you, follow the “red rule” – treat them to a concert, any concert, at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado in the Denver foothills.
If you’ve been there, you understand. If you haven’t – a trip to the Rocks should be at the very top of your concert bucket list (see my article What’s on your concert bucket list? to answer the question). Last Saturday, May 29th, I put my “any concert at Red Rocks is a great concert” hypothesis to the test by attending the 2nd Annual Bisco Inferno, the opening show for the 2010 concert season.
Whether you call the popular genre jam, dance, house, techno, electronica, or a combination of the above, the music was high energy. For the uninitiated, the music “can’t really be defined. It takes you there… Musically, House Music is a fusion of many different musical styles with its parents being Disco and R&B. The musical grandparents and aunts and uncles that define House music include Classic Rock, New Wave, Gospel, Electro, Jazz and believe it or not Electronica.” (House Music…The Real Story, Jesse Saunders)
Headlining the jamtronica extravaganza were the Disco Biscuits, one of the best electronic jazz/jam bands around. Also on the bill were Pnuma Trio, Aeroplane, The Crystal Method, The Glitch Mob, and Booka Shade.
As the show started, one thing became incredibly obvious – there were maybe 10 people at the show that were older than 30 (including yours truly). I wrote down a few words that hit me as I scanned the audience made up of generation Y’ers: dreads, interesting costumes, dancing, and lots and lots of smiles.
First up, Pnuma Trio, a Boulder, Colorado based band. The Trio played a jazzy electronic flavored set, ranging from smooth vibe to frenetic chaos. While Ben Hazelgrove’s keyboards drove the music, he got some excellent contributions from drummer Lane Shaw and bassist Alex Botwin. If the band’s main purpose was to get the crowd movin’ and shakin’, mission accomplished!
As the Trio wrapped up their set, a nice young woman named Tracy, the same age as my daughter sidled up to me and asked me “Have you heard any of these bands before?” To which I cleverly replied “Is it that obvious?” She no doubt noticed the pitifully pained expression on my face as I struggled to make sense of the lyrically bereft performance.
Tracy explained, “My generation doesn’t need lyrics, because then someone always feels like they need to tell you what they mean. Without lyrics, each person can interpret the music any way they want to.” Pretty profound for someone so young, eh?
Of course, my generation managed to do some pretty serious interpretive creativity of songs with lyrics. What exactly does “Mellow Yellow” mean again?
She spent the next ½ hour carefully explaining the nuances of the music at hand. Armed with my new understanding, I sat back and had a great time.
Next up was Aeroplane, a couple of DJs from Belgium that really got “Club Red Rocks” working. Stephen Fasano and Vito De Luca moved through some break beat rhythms, highlighted by the dialogue between the differing styles of the two DJs.
The Crystal Method continued the dual DJ theme, but with a decidedly hard rock edge. Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan offered up an eclectic mix of classic songs, including Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition”, Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper” (more cow bell!) and Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love”.
The Glitch Mob’s solid electronica base was definitely dance oriented and underscored the band’s versatility. While their set was more temperamental and pensive than previous bands, it was still good to dance to. The band is set to release a new studio CD in a week called Drink the Sea.
German electronic duo Booka Shade’s set was sandwiched in between two sets by the Disco Biscuits. Arno Kammermeier and Walter Merziger showed why they blew up the worldwide dance music scene with their hit, “Body Language”. Their set definitely reflected the influenced of traditional European electronic music.
Kammermeier gave some perfect insights into their style when he recently said in the Denver Post, “I find it great when people open up and are not too rigid about their music. I believe that our audience is open-minded. Our music isn’t one thing all the time.”
Guitarists Jon Gutwillig and Chris Michetti, keyboardist Aron Magner, drummer Alan Aucoin, and bassist Marc Brownstein, otherwise known as the Disco Biscuits, played two strong full sets at the Inferno, filled with their trademark electronics and club beats. They used the Rocks to showcase their “trance-fusion”, a mixture of free-form jazz improvisation and hypnotic rhythms.
The band kicked off the set with an oldie but goodie, their trance-fusion rock opera “Hot Air Balloon”. The hypnotic rhythms were evident on “Portal to an Empty Head”, reminding me of Pink Floyd’s ethereal best. Magner’s “Caribbean” piano riffs on “Mindless Dribble”, from 2001’s They Missed the Perfume, were one of the night’s high points. The Biscuits shifted into more of a strong jazz groove with On Time. Among the other highlights, a melodic jam of “House Dog Party Favor” and a funked up “Home Again” to close out the evening around 2 A.M.
Wow, what a day! Great music, nice people, perfect venue. All in all, Bisco Inferno proved to me once again that a concert at Red Rocks is a once in a lifetime experience that you can have over and over again!
Thanks to Jason “Jester Jay” Goldman for some excellent concert photos.
For what’s happening on the Phoenix concert scene, see my good friend the Phoenix Concert Examiner’s page.