Over the past few years, Pretty Lights' performances have been rumored to be hit-or-miss. But kicking off his two-night run at Red Rocks last Friday and Saturday with unreleased music, Derek Vincent Smith was ready to show his fans a new side of his sound. Add to that a new tour concept, four live bandmembers and a jam-packed set filled with brand-new music and older fan favorites, and we undoubtedly got the best of Pretty Lights.
This year, Smith, a seven-time Red Rocks veteran and Colorado native, reformatted his summer and fall tour. For the Episodic Festival, as he calls it, Smith added a live band and is releasing videos that prelude each of the tour's stops. His theme for episode two (Red Rocks weekend): There Is a Light.
Smith says on his website that the idea stemmed from his performances in Telluride last summer, where he realized the importance of shared experience. He explained that the Episodic Festival tells a story about an experiment while also being an experiment in telling a story.
“I have witnessed an incredible story unfold as I’ve watched fans of PL music come together and connect with each other at concerts and online and truly affect and change each other’s lives for the better,” Smith explains on his website. “It has helped me really recognize the importance of shared experience and, even more so, the potential.”
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Perhaps this newfound faith in the shared experience explains Pretty Lights' new lineup. Positioned like four pillars around Smith were keyboardists Brian Coogan and Borahm Lee, drummer Alvin Ford Jr. and Chris Karns on the turntables. The additions brought an extra layer to the complexity of sounds Smith had in store for both evenings.
Friday night was more of a jam session with Smith and his bandmembers and a preview of new, unreleased music, peppered with some hits like "I Know the Truth." Saturday night was explosive from start to finish. Some highlights from Saturday include "Time," "I Can See It in Your Face" and "More Important Than Michael Jordan."
A couple times each night, Smith asked for the house lights to come on so he could better see the faces in the crowd. He would smile, shake his head in disbelief, and express his gratitude for his fans.