TOKIMONSTA at LARIMER LOUNGE | 9/19/13 Let's face it: Really progressive urban shows are rare here in Denver. Given that, consider for a moment the genre-destroying line up of Tokimonsta, Gavin Turek, MNDR and Jesse Boykins III that took the stage last night at Larimer Lounge. Tokimonsta is this year's beatmaker/"it" girl, and Flying Lotus protege Gavin Turek is the next great female voice lying in wait. MNDR is the spiritual heir to Debbie Harry, and Jesse Boykins III is a retro soul man from the year 3000.
This crazy line up was put together by the show's headliner Tokimonsta (aka Jennifer Lee), a celebrated DJ and one of the brightest new stars to emerge from the exploding Los Angeles beat scene (which also counts Thundercat, Flying Lotus and Sweatson Klank among it's ranks, and no less than Thom Yorke among it's followers). What the other three artists have directly in common is their appearances on the new Tokimonsta album, Half Shadows. All the artists make some of the most danceable and progressive sounds out right now, and together, they presented an unforgettable night of jams.
Boykins took the stage just after midnight and immediately launched into songs from his excellent freEP, Way of a Wayfarer. On stage, Boykins is a kinetic blur of textures and colors and a wild mane of hair that literally looks as big as his entire body. The hair underscores the cosmic thump of songs like "Back Home" and the silky "B4 the Night is Thru," which lit up the dance floor. By the time Boykins performed his last song, the '80s throwback jam "Tabloids," most of the room was dancing along just as frantically as he was to the beats.
As quickly as Boykins left the stage, MNDR grabbed the mic before the sound man could turn down the set change music and let the crowd at Larimer Lounge know she meant business by launching straight into this summer's club hit "Let Go" by RAC, a song which features her unforgettable vocals on the hook. MNDR barely paused between songs, instead mixing and blending a medley of her own songs for the crowd's dancing pleasure.
Years on tour with the likes of the Ting Tings and Mark Ronson have given MNDR a confidence and charisma on stage that is pure rock star. She was fascinating to watch, lovely to look at and in complete fucking control of the crowd. Everyone wanted to party with MNDR and she jumped out into the crowd to oblige. Lots of artists try the whole singer/DJ thing, but few have pulled it off with such aplomb.
The sequence where she sang "Feed Me Diamonds" and then broke down the beat and built it back up into "Faster Horses" was epic and she knew it. By the end of her set, a sweaty impromptu nightclub had popped up in the Larimer Lounge; bodies were thrashing, people were vogueing and cat walking and generally just losing their shit.
Tokimonsta, armed with her Ableton controller came to the stage and decided to forego playing selections from her kinda cerebral new album and instead "just DJ some of my favorite songs right now." What followed was a pretty incredible set of unexpected dance floor gold. She deftly blended songs from Thundercat, De La Soul, Caribou and Rudimental with some deep house and some grimy ghetto tech and B-more club that had the room going off! Tokimonsta ended the night by bringing out Gavin Turek to sing "Clean Slate," her feature on Toki's album.
Personal Bias: MNDR has way more swag than Miley Cyrus could ever hope to twerk her way into. She's easily one of the coolest women in music right now, and how cool was it that she danced her ass off with us commoners for Tokimonsta's entire set? Very. Random Detail: "Tokimonsta? They do the music for Pokemon, right?" This was an actual question overheard in the early crowd By the Way: More DJs should curate concert line ups; the flow from artist to artist was absolutely awesome, and the overlap of different types of fans gave the evening a great vibe.