Concert Reviews

Review: VibeSquad at the Ogden Theatre, 9/24/11

The bridge between hip-hop and dubstep is gradually getting shorter, and Vibesquad, a.k.a. Aaron Holstein, brought out some of the most impressive b-boys and b-girls to show off on stage during his set last night at the Ogden.

It's as if the bass crowd is coming full circle by realizing where the roots of dubstep lay. Hip-hop, my friends, is alive and well, but perhaps wearing a different mask at the moment that strays from the lyrical norm, and lends itself to the electronic crowd.

The Ogden Theatre didn't sell out last night, but that would've been a foreign thought had you been standing in the middle. Holstein came out shortly after 11:30 p.m. with a respectfully credited version of Cypress Hill's "I Wanna Get High." Let's just say it wasn't the smoke machines making the lights visible throughout the venue during this opening remix.

Genres are always mixing, which seems to be the fun part of this growing electronic movement. Samples that may have ordinarily been overlooked are now being used in ways that people may not have thought was once possible. "The Fire Man," a collaboration between Vibesquad and Ill Gates got the appropriate light treatment with red, yellow, and orange lights waving through the v-shaped light boards that backlit the stage.

At any given moment during Vibesquad's set there were nine photographers on stage. This ruined the stage symmetry completely, especially since they were just standing their drinking and nodding their heads, occasionally flashing a sticker to security that said they could "PHOTOGRAPH" the show, not non-verbally gloat about where they can stand. This is where "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" comes into play.

BreakEFX, a Colorado-based break dance crew, held down the stage at three or four different times. This crew of brought it hard for Vibesquad, thus solidifying a convergence of mediums for two very different styles. Holstein's tracks were perfect fits for the crew, which dropped 1990s, flares, head spins and some impressive pop-n-lock by what looked like one of only two b-girls in the crew (from my viewpoint at stage left). How do you describe Vibesquad? It's glitch with a crunk feel; It's funk with a rap face; It's dubstep crossed with hip-hop. Holstein owns the stage when he's on it with energetic shout-outs that don't cross the line of annoying, which happens with a lot of deejays.

For instance, Stephan Jacobs, who followed Unlimited Aspect, made several advances on the microphone to get on Soundcloud and download his stuff. Asking this, to me, is like a comedian explaining a joke, which if you have to do, it isn't funny. If your music is good, we'll get it if we already don't have it. Give your audience some credit. If you are opening up for someone of Vibesquad's caliber, go ahead and assume we are familiar with the internet and everything that it offers us pirating music lovers.

Unlimited Aspect opened at 8:30, which for Ronnie Weberg and Jay Jaramillo is a little offensive. Alone, they are mercenaries of mixers. Together, they destroy tracks. They're sound is definitely in that merging hip-hop/dubstep/IDM genre, and yes, they are talented producers in their own right. The time will come when they are the top name on the marquee and I patiently wait for this. Their production is on-point and chemistry transcends friendship and stage presence.

Love and Light, whose name contradicts the style beyond measure, primed the Ogden perfectly with its opening set. I always expect some lovely, trancy dance tracks, but get blown away every time the grime hits. Last night, they threw it up for local dubstep favorite Omega by playing one his tracks, as well as getting the whole venue to put their hearts in the air (place two hands together in the shape of a heart, thumb-to-thumb, fingers-to-fingers) for a family photo.

Critic's Notebook Personal Bias: The b-boys were amazing. If they had these at every show rather than the cliche ribbon-dancing-dubster-hippy-goth-deadheads, I'd be even more impressed. Kudos on the inclusion of real hip-hop influences Holstein.

Random Detail:Souls In Action productions are stepping their game up with each show. Be on the lookout for Mt. Eden in Ocotober, that is, if you like legendary dubstep.

By The Way:Don't set your $10 drink down in a dark corner then expect me to buy it when it spills accidentally. That's called a fallen soldier, and if you are working, you shouldn't be drinking Patron/Red Bulls anyway.

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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