The Scene: All the usual suspects came out early and stayed late for the dual-sided Mystic Mayhem Masquerade Ball at Cervantes’ last Saturday. The venue was comfortably full at an early hour, undoubtedly due to fervor for Denver-based live EDM band Octopus Nebula, who paved the way for Ott & The All Seeing I. On The Other Side were Project Aspect, Future Simple Project and what seemed to be a distinctly younger crowd throughout the night. Both sides had a lot of good energy circulating around, along with plenty glow sticks, hula hoops and other various light-up toys. It was indeed a veritable circus in there, amusing to say the least. The attire was all over the place: flat bills and mini-skirts, flashes of red and green, Santa hats, elf-like costumes and Steam-Punk livery. It was a festive crowd. Certainly, many were in town for the holidays and had been pre-gaming with old friends – they seemed to have a jolly buzz right from the start. Though the music brought them through different levels of excitement throughout the evening, as the night progressed, the music of Ott seemed to tame the crowd, which at times came to the brink of frenzy.
Openers: Octopus Nebula/ProJect Aspect. If you live in Denver and you go to live EDM shows, you are probably familiar with Octopus Nebula. The local group has been collecting followers since 2004 with their brand of the genre, which blends Acid Jazz, Downtempo, Breakbeats, and Rock to create a sound that is varied yet cohesive: beautifully ethereal and trance-like grooves transcending into harder jams, their distinctive sound never fails to impress. Having stepped out on that stage as a headlining act on several occasions, it is likely that many people bought their tickets that night just to see these guys–the rest was just the cream on the top. On The Other Side, Project Aspect kicked off the main acts with his Hip-Hop infused Glitch-Whomp dance music and had the crowd poppin’–it was a nice contrast to the more serine and sentimental energy in the main ballroom. The two acts were actually not the first out that evening; attendees who made it in time to see the doors open got to see Cloud-D, Buddha Bomb, Tierro, Soulacybin, and Serephine as well.
Future Simple Project: The only downside of having a dual-sided event is that concert-goers must inevitably miss certain parts of certain acts in order to sample all the sounds. Occasional visits to The Other Side were intoxicating as DJs/producers Miraja and Mikey Fisher emitted a bass-heavy, deep and organic sound, which once again provided a nice contrast to the music that was going on in the ballroom. At different times, any number of performers joined them on-stage with all sorts of random objects of amusement, it was like they had a small band of rhythmic gymnasts as groupies. Certainly a distraction, it seemed to put a short-lived spell on the entrants to the room. They would walk in and find themselves pleasantly surprised. Then they would start to dance and before long they would be lost deep within the beats, having totally forgotten about the music that they had been enjoying in the next room just minutes before. After a while, a break in the music would happen and the spell would be lifted, and the visitors would return to the main room, only to return in the same fashion an hour or so later. The duo laid down a great set–my only regret is not seeing more of it.
Ott & The All Seeing I: The crowd was hot and ready when the Ott & The All Seeing I took the stage. The four-piece live Psydub band blasted off on Saturday transporting fans through a barrage of genres and effectively showcasing their musical talent. The group is headed by British producer/musician Ott, who has been making records since 2000 on the Twisted Records label, owned by none other than Simon Postford of Shpongle. Ott had a heavy hand in the production of Are You Schpongled?, and there is no doubt that working with Postford has had an immense influence on his music.
His band includes Naked Nick (vocals, guitar, synths, and percussion), Chris Barker (bass), and Matt White (drums). Often, they sound like a Reggae band from the future, with a steady Dub beat, soulful vocals and electronic elements that bring the individual tracks to discernible highs and lows. Sometimes they will surprise the crowd and turn up the beat, incorporating other elements, and the sound will take a turn into something more gypsy-like, somewhat akin to the sound of Beats Antique. Sometimes it gets more ambient or takes on tribal qualities. They always have a visually mesmerizing video production. On Saturday, two giant screens hung from the sides of the ballroom’s stage and the imagery they donned could make a sober person wonder if they’d been slipped something–trippy and bizarre, and yet so soothingly appropriate for the music that they were meant to accompany.
The night slid on. The bar closed, but the music never stopped. The room got a little cloudier, the crowd got a little hazier, the music would peak and plateau. It sometimes seemed like the majority of the crowd had crossed over into blotto land, but then the music would cool down again, soothing the crowd, and in this way, they kept the horde from ever getting too out of control. At almost four, the show came to an end and a satisfied, exhausted and still somewhat inebriated crowd filed out of the venue. Some to after-parties, some to early A.M. eateries, and some (like me) to their fuzzy pajamas and then into bed. Whatever your pleasure, attendees were surely boasting about this show the next day–it was a great line-up, the individual performances were moving, and considering how long it lasted, it was a great value.
Stage Presence: B+
Set/Light Show: A-