The Scene: It was one of the coldest nights in the early fall season here in Denver but that did not deter a hoard of concert goers from making their pilgrimage to the hallowed dance floor of Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom. I arrived early and had to make the classic winter concert decision, wear the jacket in or leave it in the car? The jacket was left in the car, as I was anticipating a night of raucous dance moves to warm the body and soul. Cervantes’ feels like home to many who frequent the Denver EDM scene; a intimate, energetic, warm space where dancing organically blossoms with the assistance of whomever is on the stage.
Thriftworks: Having recently completed a full docket of summer festivals, Thriftworks is one of the up-and-coming acts in the dance music scene. I have seen this Bay Area producer multiple times in Colorado in 2012 and yet I anxiously waited to hear his diverse mystical rhythms in the Cervantes’ setting. It was a paltry crowd at the beginning of his set with only a few brave souls willing to approach the void near the front of the stage. As his plodding beats began to build in complexity and energy the recently entered heads were attracted like moths to a flame.
Thriftworks’ soundscapes are a relief from the overworked “whomps” that are typical of the current EDM scene. There are points at which the music moves as slow as molasses before building to peaks of high paced glitchy synthesizers. It is a spectacle of stacked broken Drum lines, indecipherable vocal clips, and insect inspired “weeps” and “gleeps” that meld together to create a sonic symphony. It seems that his music’s inspiration comes from the masters of syncopation (i.e. Flying Lotus & Aphex Twin) and he does well in a genre and soundscape that is hard pressed to garner new listeners due to the attention to detail required of the listener.
Thriftworks was unfortunately relegated to a spot a little low in the lineup for my taste, but he brought a wondrous sound to the stage and by the end of his time the dance floor was prepped for the fast and furious sounds to come.
Mochipet: The next name on the lineup for the evening’s 1320 Records album release party was Bay Area Hip-Hop and Bass producer/DJ Mochipet. His initial appearance on the stage was an interesting one as he looked tiny in comparison to the hulking and long-haired presence that is Thriftworks. He was all business and no smiles up until the moment he hit play. The set was a Hip-Hop and remix heavy hour that got the crowd shaking and shimmying with each change of tempo and frequency. Crunchy claps and loud snare hits were the driving force for almost every tune and I was relieved that while he played a wide array of tunes, he never dipped into the more simple screaming bass lines that tend to accompany sets of that amplitude. I came in having heard his name and good things about the energy of his dance floor sets, but was pleasantly surprised by the variety throughout and Mochipet’s ability to amp the audience and set the stage for the main event of the evening.
Project Aspect: The majority of the audience was there solely to see Jay Jaramillo a.k.a. Project Aspect, the local-kid-made-good who recently signed a record deal with STS9’s own 1320 Records and was there to celebrate his sudden ascent to the top echelon of the Denver EDM community. The dance floor immediately filled to the brim once the slight, ball cap wearing and bespectacled Aspect took to the stage. He proudly stated that his set was made up of 100% original music and then it was off to the races. From the moment he arrived in front of his laptop and MIDI controller setup, Project Aspect held the crowd in a glitch and bass headlock and didn’t let go for the entirety of his 2-hour set.
Using classic drum builds and uniquely spaced out bass lines, he proved track after track why he has been garnering acclaim from so many throughout our state and beyond. At times his work with 8-bit sounds and Hip-Hop beats made me feel like a child again, staring at a small screen, NES controller in hand, bound by Mario World and Double Dragon melodies.
In the midst of his music marathon, Aspect was joined by an MC (and presumably a friend of his by the look of it). The rhymes were coming tight and fast initially, but after a few tracks of their live collaboration, Aspect and many in the crowd noticed that it was losing its steam. He then showed the mettle of a true showman and kindly escorted his cohort from the stage. Project Aspect is a personification of musical passion on stage, and his enthusiasm alone could bring a crowd of people who had never heard any of his grooves before to a head nodding frenzy. I found myself lost in the dance floor shuffle many a time throughout the set, in the best kind of way.
Constantly squinting out at the audience and pushing up his sweat soaked specs, Project Aspect showed a crowd what it is to be humble and appreciative of the praise and support of a community like Denver, and Cervantes’ in particular. I look forward to the next time I get to strap on the dancing shoes and go toe to toe with the Mile Migh Musical version of McLovin.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: B+