Photos by Jim Mimna
The Scene: Last Friday night, Cervantes‘ had their hands full with two big events: Poolside (DJ Set) with Luke the Knife of Lotus and other guests performing at The Other Side and, on the main stage, a funky collaboration of Colorado artists performing songs ranging from the Flower Power era to today’s modern Disco-Funk-Electronica favorites. Crunchy 20-somethings and funky older dudes rubbed shoulders with those sporting neon hoodies and flat brims as we all waited in line for our tickets. I chose the main ballroom in support of my funky roots and, of course, the wonderful Listen Up Denver! And I’m glad I did. Walking into the main ballroom, one could feel an ambiance that screamed “I’m ready to get down,” and get down, we did.
The Dance Party Time Machine: Before the show, a plethora of talented artists draped in glitter, studded belts, and Afro wigs lined up to take to the stage. One very recognizable musician, David Murphy of the popular Livetronica group STS9, was greeted with warm applause and “Murph” chants. The alliance of awesome artists kicked off the dance party with the lead track on arguably the most talked about album of the summer, “Give Life Back To Music” from Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. Most of the musicians left the stage as we time traveled to the 60’s and a new group of players led us into the classic “Wooly Bully” before dialing up the Funk with a James Brown song from 1965, “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag.” Perhaps my favorite flare of theatrics presented by The Dance Party Time Machine was the element of the “time machine.” Every time the production was about to switch decades, someone would pull a giant lever on stage and lights would flash while intergalactic sounds filled the ballroom. It was a very fitting and a clever addition.
Some notable songs from their first set included Blondie’s “Heart of Glass,” The Emotions’ “Best of My Love,” and the Beck track “Mixed Bizness.” One song I felt was a little mismatched was Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” but I’ve got to hand it to Eric Blumenfeld who nailed the vocals on that one. Another aspect I really enjoyed about this show was that when the musicians weren’t performing, they were mingling with the crowd and getting their groove on. I spoke with Aubrey Hamrick, who had just wow’d the crowd in her role as Debbie Harry of Blondie, and she told me to be sure and stick around for the second set because they were going to bring it even harder. And they did just that.
The second set started off with Chromeo’s “BonaFide Lovin'” featuring Murph on the keys and then things really took off as the gang tackled Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” and “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees. Everyone in the crowd was going crazy and busting out their finest dance moves. Who could blame them? We did have a care in the world after that jazzy start. From there the setlist riffed on the controversy over Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” as the band segued from Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up” into the current chart topper. We then time warped into some of the silliest songs of the night: Rod Stewart’s “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” and R. Kelly’s catchy “Ignition (Remix),” which had everyone singing along with Jeff Prah as he paraded around the stage in a huge Afro.
As the clock pushed past 2am, one of the most powerful moments of the night came when Murph returned to the stage and James Dumm of Fox Street took over the microphone with an electrifying performance of Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).” As if that wasn’t enough, the set gained steam from there when Aubrie Hamrick returned to the stage to channel Whitney Houston on “I Want To Dance With Somebody” and then Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long” fed the party vibe of the room before the dirty 70’s Funk of Eumir Deodato’s version of “Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” surprised us all. As the horn section (made up of members of Fox Street, Filthy Children, and Euforquestra) nailed the familiar refrain I was stunned to see that the ballroom was still nearly filled to capacity though it was past 2:30 in the morning and the band was leaving the stage at the end of a rowdy second set. It truly was a dance party and when the stage filled again with countless musicians it was the Huey Lewis classic “Power Of Love” that sent us out into the night with sore feet and smiles on our faces. If this performance proved anything, it was that Colorado has A LOT of funky talent and they know how to throw a memorable dance party.
Stage Presence: A+
Set/Light Show: B+