Oh Red Rocks, how I love you so. You’re beautiful, you’re hands down one of the best venues in the nation, and you constantly have a rad lineup. However, as of late, I have some problems that may cause me to break up with you very soon. Since when can I NOT FEEL THE BASS at Red Rocks? The bass is supposed to shake my face, y’all. And also, what kind of party starts at 5:30? None of them, which is why not very many people were even inside the venue for the first two acts! And since when does the show end at 10:45? UGH. My frustrations towards Sunday, August 27th have very little to do with the actual music, and more so the timeline of how showcases like this one end up, and Red Rocks decreasing value both production wise and in experience.
On the other hand, this lineup was stacked! Machinedrum, RJD2, The Opiuo Band, and Emancipator had Red Rocks nearly full on a Sunday night, and the versatile lineup called for a pretty versatile crowd as well.
Machinedrum, an electronic music producer from North Carolina with an upbeat, fast paced electronic style that likely would’ve been enjoyed by more people had they been in the venue. RJD2 is Ramble Jon Krohn, an American musician from Ohio who is very versatile in his sound. From hip hop, to indie sounding electronica, this man knows how to jam using interesting samples and easy to follow basslines. “Ghostwriter” is an old favorite that you’ve probably heard, that summarizes his style, and so of course, RJ played it for the long-time fans. The Opiuo Band was on the more dubstep end of the spectrum, but they also mixed it up and had a lot of jazzy moments, featuring a wonderful female vocalist and swing sounding brass, as well as calmer electronica, and funk to balance it out. It seemed as though each of the bands had their fans there, as different as they all were, which was very refreshing to see.
Emancipator, the Portland, Oregon based producer and the Ensemble featuring most lovely, Ilya Goldberg, took the stage at Red Rocks, headlining for the first time. (I will say that some of the following may be biased because Emancipator is top 3 for me.) The energy level of the entire show was lower than I expected. I’ve seen Emancipator, and I’ve seen the Ensemble, and simply put, I wish it had been a more upbeat performance. That being said, Appling’s ability to create ethereal melodies, mixed with jazz and hip hop is impeccable, and he still did this, and managed to put on a wonderful performance. However, the lack of an encore definitely left us wanting more.
When speaking of the new single, “Ghost Pong” he says, “I’ve been inspired lately to return to making melodic instrumental hip-hop and this one has a chilling vibe to it which felt right.” And with that description of his newest single, a probable reflection of his new album, I accept that not everything can be as dancey as I’d like. 8/10 for not being what I think anyone was expecting, but fulfilling as always Emancipator.