PRETTY LIGHTS @ RED ROCKS | 8/16/13 Spirits were high as Pretty Lights took the stage on Friday night, the first night of the act's annual two-night run at Red Rocks, both of which would feature a live band this year, something that Smith had hinted at in our interview with him just prior to the release of Pretty Lights' latest EP, A Color Map of the Sun, whose funky beats and sounds are the work of talented session musicians. From horns to pianos, the live instrumentation really resonated with the crowd, which kept grooving until just after 1 a.m.
The stage looked different at Red Rocks than what we are used to seeing for a Pretty Lights show. A platform encased in lights was erected for the live band that would end up accompanying Derek Vincent Smith on this outing. This setup left little room for the openers to perform, but it didn't stop Blue Sky Black Death and Talib Kweli from absolutely getting after it and setting the stage for Pretty Lights.
The set, as usual, was nothing short of captivating. Although the approach to the show was slightly different this time out with the band, Smith kept things dependably interesting; after playing some tracks from the new record, the band left the stage and Smith went back to his roots and played some of his most beloved tracks. From "Hot Like Dimes" to "Gold Coast Hustle," Smith reminded fans why he's the master of what he does.
The crowd hung on to his every move, and sang the lyrics word for word, as the lasers and lights flashed against the rocks. From track to track, Smith's progressions perfectly matched the mood of the crowd. In true Pretty Lights fashion, the smooth transitions between tracks left no room for the crowd to stop dancing. After performing solo for a spell, Smith called the band back up and played some more tunes from Color Maps. If you're a dance fan in Colorado, then Red Rocks was the place to be this past weekend. No summer in is complete without marveling at Pretty Lights at the Rocks.
-- Bianca Cadloni
Personal Bias: I hadn't seen Pretty Lights since Red Rocks, 2011.
Random Detail: Talib Kweli wasn't brought on stage to perform their track "Around the Block."
By the Way: There will be a lot of cool and limited edition Pretty Lights swag for sale at the entrance of the amphitheater.