Photos by Jim Mimna
The Scene: From the Delorean parked out front to Marc Brownstein performing the narration on “Thriller” as the show wound to a close, last Friday night’s long-anticipated Dance Party Time Machine was a major, bad-to-the-bone success. If the people with the Guinness Book were keeping tabs, the lineup for the “DPTM” at the Ogden Theatre very likely may have snagged the title for “The show with the most extensive lineup ever.” A vast majority of Denver’s local Jam, Rock, and Funk music scenes were represented, with musicians taking turns on-stage throughout the duration of the Dance Party’s 4-hour throw-down.
Carefully crafted and curated by the guys over at J2G Live, the Dance Party Time Machine brought in recruits from all across the musical spectrum to create this once-in-a-lifetime musical masterclass. While the clear headliners of the event were Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner and Allen Aucoin of The Disco Biscuits, Ryan Jalbert, Dave Watts and Gabe Mervine of The Motet, and David Murphy who formerly played bass in STS9 and now fronts his own group Seven Arrows the show was held together by the outstanding playing of members of countless local bands including Euforquestra, Tiger Party, Fox Street, Mountain Standard Time, Rose Hill Drive, Kinetix, Analog Son, Filthy Children, and Ableminds.
With two drum sets, a massive keyboard rig, several guys on a selection of brass and a rotating lineup of electric and bass guitars, there must have been at least 10 musicians on the Ogden’s stage at all times. Coincidentally, the entire instrumental lineup was male, so to balance out the testosterone four bright-eyed and beautiful female singers helped with the vocals, taking turns on backup or lead, and included independent artist Su Charles (I Am SuCH)and Groove Nation Orchestra’s Aubrie Hamrick.
Dance Party Time Machine: The show had been perfectly titled. The night was exactly what it had promised – a dance party to the sounds of each and every decade in Pop music history. From the start of the first set we knew the night would be a wild ride as things kicked into high gear with Michael Jackson’s “Love Never Felt So Good” before we all time traveled back to 1955 to witness Jonathan “Skippy” Huvard embody Little Richard on his classic “Tutti Frutti” as it’s wild lyrics took us back to a time of poodle skirts and swing dancing.
The 80’s were next, with Katrina & The Waves’ teeny-bopping wonder “Walking On Sunshine,” whose lyrics we all know and love for their recurrence in pop culture for the last 2 decades. Naturally, the tune was an instant crowd-pleaser, and had the entire place bouncing and hopping to this classic. A highlight of the first set, and another 80’s classic, was David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” featuring the incomparable Mathenee Treco on lead vocals.
Keeping in tune with the 80’s hits, The Bangles’ 1986 smash “Walk Like An Egyptian” was an unanticipated treat led by the female vocalists and backed by the ever-rotating crew of male musicians. Then Aubrie Hamrick stepped up to the microphone to bust out her inner diva as she belted out the lyrics to Madonna’s hit “Lucky Star.”
Though the pop music of the 80’s was a perfect fit for this dance party, our stellar lineup switched the tempo for the remainder of the first set and brought us some of the most classic and old school R&B. The highlight of this portion of the evening was undoubtedly Adam Lufkin of Kinetix pouring everything into Rick James’ “Give It To Me Baby.” This was a decade when the likes of Bowie and Madonna, and the rest of Pop hits were at their peak, but it was imperative to switch gears and give credit to some of the greatest artists of R&B/Soul history. The curators of the DPTM could not have jumped genres more gracefully, bringing us one kick-butt set of bad-ass throwbacks.
The second set of the Dance Party Time Machine would bring a little more time warp-age, covering a greater spectrum of music history. The 90’s came first, and this part of the set was highlighted by a tune Dave Watts and the rest of the Motet gang are intimately familiar with; Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat.” The Electro-Funk of this gem pushed the crowd and the second half of the evening straight to euphoria.
Of course, it would not be the 90’s without some classic Hip-Hop/Rap, which came in the form of Big Pun’s “Still Not A Playa.” The audience was of a younger demographic, and though we love the oldies, it seemed nothing got the crowd going more than hearing their own “oldies.” And get going they did – going nuts for one of the greatest throwbacks of the decade when Hip-Hop was just budding. This cover paved the way for something even better and more beloved – Nelly’s “Ride Wit Me,” which had the entire audience rapping along with the lyrics and loudly joining in on the chorus: “Must be the Mon-ayyy!”
Between these bouts of Hip-Hop came the 1970’s, in the form of The Staple Singers’ sensual and funky “I’ll Take You There.” That Funk continued with Patti Labelle’s “Lady Marmalade,” and since this song is best known for it’s estrogen-heavy appearance in “Moulin Rouge,” starring Lil’ Kim, Christina Aguilera, Mya and Pink, our lovely lady vocalists lead the house in their rendition of those beloved lyrics; half English, half French.
After a show-stealing performance of LCD Soundsystem’s “Daft Punk If Playing At My House” that featured Lufkin and Brownstein grinning ear-to-ear, the time warp began to lose its grasp on space and time when Dave Watts and his drum set led the band through a rendition of Daft Punk’s “Robot Rock.” This brought us back to the mid-2000’s, and to a great place. Throughout the four-hour show dubbed the Dance Party Time Machine, we were brought back to every place and every age of musical and popular history. Denverites should feel lucky to have witnessed the iconic performances that took place last Friday night as we all remember how blessed we are to have such incredible performers, artists, and musicians living in our midst.
Stage Presence: A