Levitate Festival at 1STBANK Center, 4/20/12


See Also: (Q&A) Rusko: "I, of course, support medical marijuana, and I am clearly a patient."(Profile) OMG! Rusko's stepping into mainstream territory with his new album(Review) Rusko, M80 Dubstation at the Ogden Theatre, 09.21.10(Review) DJ Shadow at the Ogden, 11/19/10(Review) DJ Shadow at Ogden Theatre, 2/7/08

Rusko pulled out all the sticks and stems to absolutely light up the 1STBANK Center with some heavy, bong-shattering bass. The U.K. skanker promised that he would not let anyone stop moving for his entire set, and he kept his word, blasting the venue with what might be the hardest hitting version of "Everyday" that has ever been played.

Christopher Mercer is the man. Billed as Rusko, the dubstep king came out hard and heavy from start to finish perched atop a simple, transparent, centerset booth. With nothing fancy as far as lighting (basically, no LED panels or lasers) -- save for the massively lit "RUSKO" letters dangling behind him that occasionally rose and dropped on their cables -- Rusko jogged through every banger he had, pulling out classic samples from "Woo Boost," "Hold On," and even a super hard remix of Dire Straits "Money For Nothing."

With a successful convergence into the American mainstream thanks to a recent collaboration with 4/20 go-to rappers Cypress Hill (who played the Ogden Theatre on the same night), Rusko has transitioned from underground dubstep producer to international sensation.

Though lacking in bodies for most of the night -- it was 4/20, obviously, and it's almost a given that everyone will be late on 4/20 to whatever commitment they've made -- by the time Rusko took the stage, the coveted general admission floor was packed front to back with bodies. With each transition, Rusko hopped around his small booth punching the air, rockstar posing, pointing out fans and generally keeping the energy levels high.

DJ Shadow, the third act on the bill, brought out the ShadowSphere and prefaced his show by claiming that he makes, and plays music to inspire. For 27 years, Shadow has been honing his craft on the turn tables, and this fact is quite obvious the second he begins his set.

The ShadowSphere, in all of its reputable glory, is really quite a simple stage production. The seven foot in diameter globe sits dead center on the stage with corresponding projected images coming from both sides that also project onto the white background. It's a visual journey that accompanies a fantastic performance, but by no means does it, er, over-shadow the music.

With the experience he has in production, Shadow doesn't really DJ to a crowd anymore. It's more like we all showed up to listen to a great author read to us, the awe-struck fan base who has rabidly followed him since before Preemptive Strike, and we were all willing and eager to listen. He, of course, delivered an amazingly orchestrated performance, and closed with "Organ Donor," playing the drums live on a drum pad next to his tables, reminding everyone how and why he has done this for nearly three decades.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Britt Chester is a writer and video producer living in Denver, Colorado. He's covered breaking news, music, arts and cannabis for Westword since 2010. His work has appeared in GQ Magazine, Village Voice, YES! Weekly, Inman News and the Winston-Salem Journal. He likes running, cycling, and interviewing people.
Contact: Britt Chester

Latest Stories