Over the weekend, the Sherman Events Center was host to "One Night Stand" -- a Valentine's Day party put on by Polygamy Productions, featuring Darude, 4 Strings, AK1200 and more spread across four stages. Making your way into the venue was a bit daunting, as there were lines that spanned blocks to get and security was rigorous. While it's comforting to know you're being thoroughly protected against the candied masses' gum collections, the back-up was awful, as security searched the brightly colored crowd more thoroughly than TSA agents, leaving people waiting in line for at least thirty minutes if not more. This is typical of most events at the Sherman due to the layout of the building. A good rule of thumb: get there early or hurry up and wait.
After overcoming the line, the next obstacle was getting upstairs to the main stage where 4 Strings was about to go on. Everyone was already rushing to get up the narrow stairs, the only one leading up or down to the 4 levels. Frequent backups were caused by people stopping to talk on the stairs. Upon reaching the stage, we were greeted by a spacious wooden dance floor, high vaulted ceilings and DJ De Vos from 4 Strings.
Formed in the Netherlands in 1990 by Carlo Resoort and Jan De Vos, 4 Strings has been a production force in the trance genre for some time. Their biggest hits include "Take Me Away", "Diving", and "Summer Sun" -- classic club anthems all. Characterized by pretty female vocals and light instrumentals, they are a treat for fans of classic trance as they helped found the genre.
Representing 4 Strings, DJ De Vos took the decks at 11 p.m. to a well-packed main room. He started out the evening with "Woah Oh Oh" by Zombie Nation, a classic anthem. Fogged and lasered, people were dancing furiously as this transitioned into a remix of the Eurthymics' "Sweet Dreams". The set was a combination of hard, hard trance followed by the light female vocal productions such as "Take Me Away" that define 4 Strings. This was fantastic for the old school crowd that came out to re-live their younger days but it wasn't anything that hadn't been heard before. Closing the set with a remix of Delerium's "Silence", De Vos set up Darude nicely to take folks on a trip down memory lane.
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Hailing from Finland, Darude (aka Ville Virtanen) arrived on the scene in the 1995 as an up-and-coming trance DJ. In 1999, the track "Sandstorm" was released from his album Before the Storm, and quickly becoming #1 around the world. Other tracks from that album, "Feel the Beat" and "Out of Control", were also hits but neither of them reached the success of "Sandstorm." Even a decade later, the track is a monster and easily identified by the most new EDM listener. This is the curse Darude faces when he spins live -- living down the "one cheesy hit wonder" status.
At 1am exactly, Darude started his night. The lights dimmed and a haunting female voice came over the speakers. This segued nicely into epic, throbbing trance beats in the track "Tomorrow" by Marcel Woods. The classic-feeling set also included the tracks "Sanctuary" by Gareth Emery and "Stomp to My Beat" by JS 16.
Darude's set was well mixed between old and new productions -- making the "classic" trance set feel all that more relevant to the times. Far from stage-shy, Darude really got into it, from holding up placards with track's lyrics on them to filming the audience, he was constantly smiling. It's great to see that much enthusiasm after so long in the spotlight. The stage stayed crowded throughout the set -- a testimony to how good the set was.
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Half-way through the set, I wandered upstairs to the Got Bass! Stage to listen to a bit of AK1200. A drum and bass DJ who needs no introduction, the Florida-based AK1200 is a staple for any large events. He always has a good set and energy, and this night was no different. I was happy he avoided using the dubstep "whomp" too much and kept to the drum and bass instead -- making the rafters vibrate and the masses dance.
Trying to see the other stages, the crowd on the sole stairway yet again proved frustrating, so I headed back to the main area to see the end of Darude's set. Playing "Rapture" by Iio, Darude kept the crowd dancing. Finally, 3 a.m. came around and the chanting of "Sandstorm!" was answered by a closing performance of the hit track -- a good way to end the trip down memory lane.
Overall, this event was punctuated by two things -- good "old school" sets from legendary DJs and epic fail event herding techniques. In the future I would hope for a venue better situated for handling a crowd that large (1500+), so that the DJs don't suffer a lack of audience due to the hardship of moving between floors.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: A tech-haus head, I have a soft spot for epic classic trance -- two of the first tracks I ever heard were "Sandstorm" and "Take Me Away". Random Detail: The guy with the giant white teddy bear head that had a glow-fro coming out the top of it -- um, why? By the Way: If the Lingerie Football League is recruiting in Denver, send them to the Sherman -- it's inundated with possible candidates!