Ringing In The New Year, Mile-High Style – Decadence 2013

*written by A’Damaged Pro for Electronica Life

Denver is known for a lot of things already. If you don’t have killer EDM festivals on that list, please feel free to add it now. Decadence NYE is not only the largest NYE party in Colorado but it is on multiple Top 10 lists for Best NYE Parties in the United States. It’s not hard to imagine that with a lineup that includes Bassnectar, Tiesto, Dada Life, Nervo, Above & Beyond, and Pretty Lights.

There’s something in the air in Denver and it’s not what you’re thinking. I’m talking confetti and lasers. Decadence makes Denver its home, once again, to bring in the New Year, with swag that can only be found in Ballerado. If you’re not excited yet, you need to google where to buy party pants. This chapter in music history unfolds at the Colorado Convention Center and will test how much fun and music can be crammed into six hundred thousand square feet. We’re talking about a diverse lineup, over two days, and insane production value that are guaranteed to take this experience to the next level. A genuine thank you to: Global Dance, AEG Live, and Live Nation for caring enough to make this year even better than the last.

Day 1

Walking up to the CCC I see something that, I feel, indicates that I’m in for a treat tonight. Normally I don’t put much stock in “signs” and such, but resting my gaze on a giant blue bear sculpture, that’s peeking in the window, leads me to believe that the party is definitely inside. I slip the bear a sly wink for things to come and follow suit with the thousands of eager festival goers. No matter how much someone studies the venue map before making the trek inside, if you don’t have first-hand familiarity, the first walkthrough is traditionally a recon mission. Where are the bathrooms closest to each stage? Where is the food located and what is being offered? Where are the hydration stations? I’m tracking down those locations, but I’m more interested in scouting out something altogether. I’m checking out the different types of: light rigs, lasers, and “cannons,” which will be bombarding a captivated audience with CO2, confetti, and streamers. I like to get a rundown of the production because, while some of the music of the evening may be a mystery to me, there is something ironically soothing about knowing that when a massive drop comes the masters of FX will deliver that extra something to bring you into the experience even more.

During my scouting mission I am trying to take it all in. This venue is massive and people are steadily pouring in through the doors. I have to keep reminding myself to stay in the moment regardless of where I see this night heading. The soundtrack, set over three distinctly-styled stages, is being enthusiastically welcomed by my soul. Around every twist and turn I’m being greeted by new music. I float from the stylings of TJR at the Global Dance Arena to Bass Physics at the BASS Arena. The third stage for tonight is the Submission Arena. Sub.mission is a Denver-based collective that is helping move the EDM scene forward in Colorado. It seems only fitting that they are able to exhibit some of their talents at the largest NYE event in Colorado. An example of local supporting local at its finest. At this point of the evening, I’m just sampling what’s going on around me. I’m already pleased with my decision to check my coat because I’m going to be completely wrapped up by the music in no time.

It’s time to make it back to the Global Dance stage. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the Aussie superduo, Nervo, live before and I’m not going to miss out now. These ladies show exactly why they are one of the most sought after acts in the biz right now. If “happy music” needs a new example for a wikipedia article, this set would be on the short list. It’s amazing how they can exhibit such enthusiasm and high-energy while still maintaining an intimate feel. The outstretched arms and smiles throughout the audience lead me to believe that I’m not alone in this thinking.

Keep your passport out. The Global Dance stage is living up to its name. This time we’re going straight to Dada Land, courtesy of “Dada Life” Airways. The festival rules state implicitly that no outside food or drink will be allowed, but I see a bunch of bananas, front and center, on the decks with them. I don’t know why but this makes me extremely happy. These avid proponents for “bubble butts” and champagne showers don’t hesitate to remind us that this party is indeed fully underway.

Back at the BASS Arena, the streak of killer duo acts, I’ve been lucky enough to see tonight, continues. Unofficially dubbed “electronic-soul” music, Break Science is tearing things up. It looks like each of these guys is in their own world on-stage, but the resulting sound is too harmonious for it to be coincidence. You can feel the passion these guys have for the music. There is something so uplifting about sharing this experience with others. Although I may have my own interpretation about what defines good music, the prevalent attitude here signifies that we are part of something larger because of the music.

Passport time again. Global Dance stage…let’s do this. The man of the hour has so many names. He’s been called “The Trance King” and “Mr. Club Life,” but I’m just going to call him Tiesto. This Dutchman has wowed crowds around the globe and he knows exactly why he’s here and that is to make us DANCE!!! He’s dropping some of his classics from years’ past as well as unveiling some of his newer releases. The cinematography on the screen behind him takes us on a voyage around the globe. Kind of fitting if you ask me, considering the miles (or kilometers if you so choose) this veteran has logged in his career. This set has definitely put some pep in my step and I’m ready to go close the evening out at the BASS Arena.

Beats Antique have already taken the stage. What originally started as a project to create tribal-fusion belly dancing music has blossomed into the synergy that I am witnessing now. Part rock opera. Part gypsy folk jam. All heart. I know that the timing of their belly-dancing counterpart’s entrance was pre-planned but I am mesmerized. Decked out in garb that I would associate with a Babylonian princess, it looks as though she is emerging from the sun. Combined with the power of the current power ballad, I know they have everyone’s attention. If I have to thank Beats Antique for just one moment of their set, this would be it.

The masses are continuing to assemble at the BASS Arena. I’m suddenly aware of exactly how many people are here right now and how many of them have the same idea to close out tonight with an extended session of BASS-centric melodies. Who is the maestro responsible for the upcoming conference on unification through music? The man with the extraterrestrial approach and enough BASS to build bridges to other dimensions and simultaneously destroy bad thoughts is none other than, Bassnectar. There is a tribal quality to the atmosphere now. If the opening Wonka-inspired visuals are any indicator of what’s to come, this ride is about to go into hyperdrive at the hands of our always gracious conductor. The seamless integration of lights, lasers, and BASS ensure that these moments in time will be fused permanently into our collective consciousness. The floor is trembling from all the revelry. Anyone who can utilize Cash Money and Rage Against The Machine in the same set is destined to keep this party going. Can you smell the BASS in the air? I can. When the glitter settles and the beats are only lingering in our hearts and minds, we must come to one realization…we’re only at the half-way point. My fingers are crossed that everyone brings their A-Game tomorrow because it’s going to be hard to compete with tonight.

(click the picture above for more photos)

Day 2

It’s time to get back at it again. The level of preparedness is always higher on subsequent days of a multi-day festival. I know this venue inside and out and I’m ready to immerse myself in another night of great music. Tonight’s lineup has me thinking that I will be spending most of my evening at the Illumination Arena. My first experience of the evening is an artist that is completely foreign to me, Odesza. It has almost become a virtual certainty that any time I tell someone at a festival that I have never heard of “so-and-so,”   that person turns out to be their biggest fan and their enthusiasm instantly rubs off on me. If there is supposed to be a natural progression of the evening, no one told Odesza.  This guy came to deliver some serious jams. We are off to a great start.

It’s time for something a little different. Paul Basic takes his place behind the decks and resumes the journey. This style is something else altogether. If I had to choose three words, they’d be: dark, mysterious, and gritty. If a film noir and Japanimation were merged, this would be the soundtrack. This is music for the cerebral and/or the melancholy, as long as you are prepared to step down the rabbit hole. This stage is living up to its name….let the “illuminating” continue.

In the perpetual spirit of “introspective illumination,” SuperVision takes over the reigns on this electro-hopped out rollercoaster of dreams. This is good music. Hip-hop and funk riffs over a solid electronic foundation are a bonafide rocking combo. I am so happy to see everybody dancing their little hearts out. That’s what we came to do, after all. This music has a way of melting inhibitions away.

I look at the lineup once again and realize that I have to make my one critical dash over to the Global Dance Arena. Before I even turn the corner, I can feel the ground moving. I can even hear a distinct low rumbling from thousands of happy feet dancing the night away. Above & Beyond are mixing it up and “Group Therapy” is definitely in session. This is my second session in a week and I’m pleased to announce that the novelty has not worn off yet. I know I could dance for hours if they would just keep playing but I’m being called back the BASS…

If the world of dubstep was governed by an oligarchy, 12th Planet would serve on the Council of Elders. Global recognition is not the yardstick by which I use to measure the quality of music, regardless if the artist in question has dropped sick beats from L.A. to Moscow. What matters to me is that, right now, this guy is bringing the intensity. This crowd is a sea of fist-pumpers and rhythmic stompers, thanks directly to this Master of BASS. For those in the audience who were not hardcore fans prior to this set, I’m sure the enthusiasm exhibited throughout and the professional courtesy, with which he introduced the next act, would be sufficient to get them to join the ranks.

The last beat is still resonating in my brain so the very minimal transition time goes unnoticed. 12th Planet tags out and Datsik tags right in. For whatever reason, there is no warm up or rising action. He is unleashing the bangers, with big room flair, from the jump. You can feel the heavy hip-hop influences, balanced perfectly with drum and instrumental riffs, in his style. Once again, the genre-distinction is irrelevant because everyone is simply calling this good music. Visuals, lasers, and BASS, we meet again. When this set ends, I’m going to use the next few minutes to mentally prepare myself for what is to come.

We are about to make history. The biggest NYE celebration in Ballerado is about to enter the final segment of the evening. Who can we trust to help us usher in 2014? There’s no need to scramble for an answer because Mr. Derek Smith, aka Pretty Lights, is about to take the stage with his entire ensemble band. Standing alone this guy can funk the roof off any venue, but the addition of the live band takes the experience to another dimension. Please set your phasers to stun. If you press me for a description of what’s to come, extraterrestrial-soul-funk is all I can muster. This voyage is about to close out with a three hour long set. That might seem extreme unless you are in the crowd. Then, it just won’t be enough. A part of my soul is about to merge with this symphony and radiate out into the universe as positivity that will transcend the ethereal plane. Yeah, it’s that kind of experience. It’s bigger than what you hear and what you see. This music is created with such love and passion, it will change your outlook on life. Prepare to have the skies a deeper blue from now on. I will walk out of this place a happier and more grounded person. I won’t be the only one either. That, my friends, is the power of music.

 (click the picture above for more photos)