While the biggest EDM event this weekend is Burning Man, if you're staying behind in Colorado, you don't have to feel left out. You can head up to Happy Ass Ranch at Lake George for Freeman Music Festival, a free festival with over twelve hours of music daily and nearly 100 DJs, or you can hit up Pitch a Tent gathering tomorrow afternoon. Or, if you'd rather stay closer to home, Justin Long's at Appaloosa Grill, Planet of the Drums is at Beta, King Britt's at Bar Standard. Whatever your flavor, you can look forward to another full Dance Card this Labor Day weekend. Keep reading for a full rundown of the weekend's best nightlife bets.
JUSTIN LONG @ APPALOOSA GRILL | FRI, 8/31/12 Justin Long has had his hands on decks longer than some up-and-comers have been alive, so it's no surprise that, by this point, his taste for tunes and his ability to mix, match and master are nigh unparalleled. Long grew up in Chicago, performing alongside the likes of Daft Punk, Carl Cox and more, garnering a following in the United Kingdom even as he has remained devoted to his home town. But don't take that to mean that he's only capable of throwing down brassy Chicago house tunes; his longevity and knowledge transcend genre, and the sets he blends together defy convention and categorization. One thing you can count on hearing, though, is dance music in its purest form, orchestrated to pack the floor with as many pounding feet and twisting bodies as the fire warden permits. He'll play an intimate set at Appaloosa Grill's Electric Pony courtesy of Full Flavor Fridays tonight with residents Garret, Sound Advice and Greg Campbell.
PLANET OF DRUMS @ BETA | FRI, 8/31/12 Dubstep might be the flavor of the month, but when Planet of the Drums hits town, it's all about the dark, dirty drum-and-bass from some of the best names in the genre: DJs Dara, AK1200 and Dieselboy with MC Messinian (and Denver's own DJ Fury for this round). Planet of the Drums (due to hit the Gothic Theatre on Friday, March 11) is the longest-running annual, national electronic-music tour, and with such giants of jungle collaborating on the project, it's no wonder that it's achieved massive success. Dara and AK1200's lighter track selection borders on intelligent DNB, which is beautifully counterbalanced by Dieselboy's harder, dirtier sound -- and those who dislike MCs rhyming over drum-and-bass have obviously never heard Messinian's mad skills; instead of distracting from the overall sound, he brings the energy to a new level with his lyrics. The three headlining DJs have almost fifty years of experience between them: This will be a don't-miss show of 2011 for bassheads of every persuasion.
KING BRITT @ BAR STANDARD | FRI, 8/31/12 King Britt's musical resume is long and varied. He rose to prominence as the DJ for the ultra-cool, jazz-inflected hip-hop act Digable Planets. These days, he's known as a master remixer and startlingly original DJ who can fuse everything from Philly soul to broken beats into silky smooth, sensual, swinging dance floor magic. His work has appeared on the popular and influential Verve Remixed series, on a number of releases from imprints such as Ovum and V2 and,like most top-flight dance artists, he runs his own label, Fivesix Media. His genius lies in finding the complementary threads of related but distinct genres -- Afrobeat, jazz, deep house, old-school R&B, just to name a few -- and weaving them together with a masterful touch into something simultaneously comfortingly familiar and bracingly original. -- Cory Casciato
MANUFACTURED SUPERSTARS @ BETA | SAT, 9/1/12 From his work with Come Together Productions to his work with SoCo and then Beatport and Beta, Brad Roulier has been a major player in Denver's nightlife for the better part of two decades. In recent years, he's enjoyed success behind the decks with Sean Sabo (aka DJ Sabotage) as Manufactured Superstars. Using emerging DJ technology such as Ableton Live and Final Scratch, the pair has taken a typical DJ set and crafted a musical concoction so diverse it defies all categorization. From '80s classics to hip-hop, techno to pop, Roulier and Sabo's mix is all over the map, and the result is one hell of a party. -- Timothy Pitts
Keep reading for even more dance-related goodness
Freeman Festival, a nod to Burning Man Festival, but free, kicks off the weekend at Colorado's Happy Ass Ranch at Lake George. With Evol Intent and Nerd Rage sitting in the headlining spots, this free festival is delivering over twelve hours of music daily, and bragging that nearly 100 DJs will be providing music for the whole weekend. Again, this is a free festival and it's full of music, so if you find yourself headed towards Lake George, go ahead and hit this.
Brennen Bryarly, otherwise known in Denver as option4, is going to be playing a set at Beatport -- not the Beatport Lounge in Beta Nightclub -- but Beatport offices. Bryarly recently dropped some music on Beatport, and his mix blew up, but today's free set, if you can't make it, will be streaming on the website, live.
Dada Life has officially sold out the Boulder Theater, which is no easy task. If you have a Rolling Stone t-shirt, or just feel like kickin' out the epic motherfucker, then do what you can to score one of these coveted tickets, but, just so you know, it's sold out.
Friday night, NORAD Dance Bar keeps things house-oriented with Peter Christianson (of Lawn Chair Generals) and Dylan Nerim, Uriah West and Rescue. (9 p.m., 21+, $5 before midnight).
Tomorrow afternoon, Treehouse Collective teams up with Mother Earth Sound System and CrowdPleaser to present Pitch a Tent Under the Blue Moon on Saturday night, with Angel Castro, Brick Lee, Deciprocal, Himay, Isaac H., Khalib, Scott Everett, Styles Davis, Tess, Travis Press and Baggett. Visit the event Facebook page for more information. (Saturday afternoon, 21+, $10-$15)
At NORAD on Saturday night, Christopher James, Josh Wetherington and Sir Thomas will throw down beats to shake things up. (9 p.m., 21+, $5). Barazza Brothers, JLEET, Lee Harris and Will Hamm bring the sounds to Vinyl on Saturday night with multiple floors of music. (9 p.m., 18+, $5-$20). Finally, on Sunday, Norad Dance Bar presents Sunday's Best, a twelve-hour marathon party featuring a slew of DJs, including Angel Castro, Danny Martin, Brad Adamson, Lobot, Greenie, Marshall Monica, Ecto Cooler, DJ Mada, Diizel, Smyl:e and more.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.