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A combination of bad sound techs and an overhyped new light display nearly ruined Gramatik’s show for the nearly full Fillmore audience Saturday night.
Gramatik was preceded by openers Mux Mool and Talib Kweli. Though all the artists kept the crowd moving and jumping for the whole set, the show felt off from the beginning.
Despite promises on the official Facebook event that the line-up included “more TBA,” it was original opener Mux Mool who took the stage first.
From the beginning, the sound was too loud, and many fans either backed away from the stage or left the dance floor, covering their ears. For those not dissuaded, the opener was mediocre. Halfway through his groovy stoner-electro set, an audience member yelled out, “We all know you’re using Garage Band!”
Talib Kweli’s set did not get quieter. Though Kweli roused the crowd with some crowd favorites such as a cover of “Rack City,” it was his DJ who really shone. In between verses, the man behind the tables spun improvised record-scratch solos influenced by the sounds of early hip-hop. Though Kweli got the crowd — and their pipes — fired up, there was a general murmur of anticipation for the act of the night, Gramatik.
The electronic artist tweeted his excitement over the light show known as “The Coil” for days. Upon entering the venue, fans caught a first glimpse of the structure. Instead of the pure electricity the teaser video had hinted at, they were met with a giant structure consisting of three dome-topped towers made of cloth rather than metal. Slinky-like plastic tubing stuffed with what were essentially Christmas lights connected these towers. It looked more like a science fair project than a top-of-the-line EDM light show.
Gramatik was top-notch, but, again, the poor sound engineering left too many fans covering their ears or out in the cold with the smokers. Taking the stage with a power-packed version of “Fist Up,” the artist shocked fans awake after their long toke session with Talib Kweli.
Gramatik didn’t change much from his original recordings. His guitarist, however, added a live feel to many of his tracks, an element often ignored in the realm of EDM. The intermittent guitar solos were reminiscent of Santana’s clean riffs, adding more variation to the already genre-bending tracks.
His set included favorites such as “Hit That Jive,” “So Much For Love” and “Take It Back.” The climax of the evening came when Gramatik cut the music to get real with the crowd: “Hey, I just wanted to say Happy Amendment 64, everyone! You guys are officially the coolest state. We’re gonna take a smoke break.” A reggae track filled the room as the DJ stepped off his stand for a toke.
When he returned, he brought the heat of a final hour with him. Playing “Digital Liberation is Mad Freedom,” the first single from his new side project with Griz, known as Grizmatik, the crowd went absolutely nuts. Even a few of the event staff were tapping their feet to the danceable new track.
Though the line-up was stacked and the crowd was rowdy, the show’s poor production quality – not the talent of the artists – left much to be desired from the show. A full hour before Gramatik said his final goodbyes, fans were already booking it out the door in droves. Let’s hope Gramatik’s crew takes the hint and stays away from the Fillmore Auditorium the next time he swings through Denver.
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sarah Elsea at Sarah.firstname.lastname@example.org.