Concert Reviews

Cloak & Dagger Festival 2016 Showcased the Diversity of Electronic Dance Music

Last weekend's Cloak & Dagger music festival felt very different from going to EDM shows at Red Rocks in the summer, thanks to the event's crowd and performers. The attendees represented an interesting mix of races, genders, sexual orientations and other social groupings that often divide people. Rock music hasn't brought so many different kinds of people together in this way in decades, and because EDM can cross over into all sorts of musical realms, there is no immediate social tag for the music. More than the bigger shows in its genre, Cloak & Dagger displayed a multiplicity of musical ideas and styles. 

While Cloak & Dagger may not be considered a showcase of the most adventurous and experimental artists in electronic music, the 2016 edition of the festival included a strong mix of left-field local and international electro explorers, as well as borderline-mainstream artists like headliner Justin Martin and house pioneer Marc Kinchen, a Kevin Saunderson protégé, who performed under his usual moniker, MK.

CRL CRRLL shone during his set, demonstrating in real time that electronic dance-music production is indistinguishable from the most imaginative hip-hop beatmaking. But the standout act (other than Agents of Time at midnight) was Weval from the Netherlands. Its combination of hard techno, bass music and constantly evolving, bright, dense melodies made for an engrossing experience even without any fancy visuals. Performing in the main front room of Club Vinyl with little in the way of illumination, Weval often sounded like a moodier acid-house act. That the duo has a background in film is not surprising, because the music seemed conceived and designed to be an experience that takes you somewhere rather than merely serving as something to dance to — though it was plenty capable of making you want to dance.

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Tom Murphy is a writer, visual artist and musician from Aurora, Colorado. He was a prolific music writer for Westword and a documenter of the Denver music scene.