How does one go about defining the best electronic music shows of the year? A lot goes into it, trust me. There is the production aspect, which looks upon the lighting choreography and the overall visual spectacle. Then, there is the actual music, which volleys between producers and DJs, both of which are respectable in their own light. We've compiled a list of the top ten electronic shows which covers a lot of this genre melding scene of electronically produced music.
10. Major Lazer's set at Global Dance Festival 2011. To be honest, Skerrit Bwoy made this set what it was. Diplo and Switch, in all of their rambunctious dance hall music producing set, made a wise choice in pulling on Skerrit Bwoy as the hype man and general conductor of the show. Complete with the booty shaking masterpiece that is "Pon de Floor," a full Global Dance audience saw Skerrit Bwoy jump from the center set lighting cube, pants down and crotch first, onto the spandex clad dancer that accompanied the set. Needless to say, if you hadn't been moving nonstop up until that point, the Major Lazer set certainly left you sweating and totally aroused.
9. Paper Diamond at CU WelcomeFest Paper Diamond, aka, Alex Botwin, is Boulder. With a studio just outside the city and a record label/clothing store downtown, Botwin . Playing Welcomefest at The University of Colorado was only appropriate, because who better to give future students a glimpse of the rising electronic scene than the one person who is pushing it harder than anyone else. Held at Farran Field and also showcasing fellow Boulder musicians Raw Russ, Big Gigantic, and Robotic Pirate Monkey, the event saw nearly 8,000 students, most of which were fresh to the campus.
8. 12th Planet at Snowball Music Festival in Avon, Colorado The addition of 12th Planet (aka John Dadzie) to the Snowball line-up was a solid choice. This rising dubstep producer's recognition has blown up since, and much credit can be given to his flawless set in a sweaty tent in the middle of the mountains. Alongside fellow performers Diplo, Savoy, Afroman, and ESKMO, Planet kept the swelling tent warm amidst the freezing temperatures that had swept through the Vail valley that night. It was loud, it was heavy, it was high energy, and it was just what everyone needed to keep them going for the headlining spot that PrettyLights held just across the field.
7. EOTO at Sonic Bloom Would you like to hear improvised, percussive, electronic music being played by the drummers of String Cheese Incident along with VibeSquad, to boot? Yes please. Sonic Bloom moved it's now annual electronic festival to the Shadow Ranch, just two miles down the road from Georgetown. Three days of music, with EOTO headlining the second night, meant three full days of heavy bass. Jason Hann and Michael Travis brought up fellow artist Aaron Holstein to play with them during their two hour set, which when heard through the Funktion-One sound system courtesy of Tipper Sound Experience, was out of this world.
6. Bassnectar at Red Rocks Lorin Ashton, the bass-minded-mastermind behind the moniker Bassnectar, pulled out all the stops for his Red Rocks performance. Boasting one of the most visually impressive lighting rigs in terms of imagery, timing, and ambiance, Ashton tore through his classic bass bangers, and closed out the night with a full venue supporting his sample chorus. Yes, it's loud, and basically is the heavy metal movement for a generation where technology and the ability to distort sounds and control bass frequencies is the key to keeping their heads ringing.
5. Flux Pavilion and Doctor P at the Fillmore Auditorium, Denver Sub.Mission Dubstep and the Triad Dragons brought the legends. If this were simply a dubstep focused list, Flux and Doctor P could easily contend for the number one spot. Because demand was so high, the venue needed to be changed from EXDO to the famed Fillmore, which ended up selling out. For Denver, this was huge. Already recognized as one of the fastest growing dubstep scenes in the country, bringing these caliber of artists from the UK proves that we've got the talent and draw to be able to party with the best in the world.
4. Big Gigantic at the Fox Theatre, Boulder Yes, that's right, more Boulder talent. Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken have created and perfected their sound, which happens to be like nothing else out there. With Salken on drums, and Lalli on the saxophone and mixer, Big Gigantic took advantage of the opportunity to show off a new lighting setup. At one point, Big G brought out Ben Samples conduct their famous "Black and Yellow" Wiz Khalifa cover, (appropriate for Lalli since his alma mater is CU), as well as promising a special surprise for the encore, which happened to be Karl Denson. Jazz, blues, classical composition and dubstep: Big Gigantic.
3. Beats Antique at the Fillmore Auditorium, Denver In terms of musical performance art, Beats Antique is untouchable. No other group is doing what they are doing, as shown at the Fillmore with their three exotic belly dancers and three incredibly talented musicians. Complete with feathered costumes, traditional Middle Eastern belly dancing attire, and the now famous animal masks, the Beats Antique show showed exactly why this group has gone from openers to headliners in less than a year. Choreographer and dancer Zoe Jakes wowed the audience with seductive drops that mimicked the feel and energy that instrumentalists David Satori and Tommy Cappel created as the soundtrack.
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2. Pretty Lights at Red Rocks, Morrison Stacked with an opening bill consisting of Big K.R.I.T, Skream, Gramatik and Michael Menert, Pretty Lights (aka Derek Vincent Smith) closed out Red Rocks in what quite possibly could be the most insane dance party of the summer. Colorado loves Pretty Lights, and it seems whenever he is able to play a set here, he lets loose for his rabid, unconditionally loving fans. Sporting his signature flat bill hat, Smith moved fluidly behind his controllers, letting everyone know how much fun he knew everyone was having with the signature track, "I Can See It In Your Face."
1. Skrillex at the 1stBank Center, Broomfield Sonny Moore takes the cake. Halloween sold out for this dubstep producer, and had you been one of the lucky ones to fill the venue that night, you would understand why Skrillex is commanding so much power and respect in the electronic world. His extensive set blasted the audience with "Scary Monster, Nice Sprites," "Equinox," "Reptile," and the classic opener, "My Name Is Skrillex," as if anyone in the building needed to know that. The visual projections were out of this world, linking his every movement to the digital figures that danced on towering screens behind him. Skrillex may not be what every electronic music fan loves, but he is pushing this scene harder than anyone in the world and getting it the international exposure it deserves.