Emissions Festival in Belden Town, California Was Full of Surprise Vibes

By: Taj Leahy

When a friend decided that I simply must join her at a so-called “bass festival,” I at once figured it was not where I wanted to be. Why? I judged the whole thing to be a hyper-masculine meat market with a shitty sound system and profanities on perpetual loop. But surprisingly, I wasn’t disappointed. It was nothing like that at all. In fact, I had the time of my life, and this “dirt rave” was one of the best parties this old raver has been to in a long time.

Emissions Festival.

Emissions Festival.

With a rocksolid vibe and a fairly insane sound system, Emissions Festival is a gem of an event. Held in the old mining and logging town of Belden, CA, the setting is idyllic as well. The Belden Town Resort is a sprawling building with a restaurant, mercantile, and hotel. The lengthy bar has surely seen and heard many a story, though I didn’t get to add any of my own. Most of the “town” seems to be held up by this single lodge on the banks of the mighty Feather River.

Oddly enough, this oft-used festival site is also a known stopover on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). It’s not hard to imagine taking to foot in this lush country. Everywhere you look is either soaring canyon walls, rivulets making their way to the Feather, or some other natural feature reminding you of nature’s enormity and grandeur. It’s little wonder that this area was chosen to be a part of the PCT, though it’s hard to imagine a hiker on a months-long trek pulling into a dirt rave like Emissions. They’d find everything but a respite. The bass cranks all night long; it rattles your waking hours as well as your dreams. Pots and pans vibrate off of stoves. It’s bonkers.

Belden.

Belden.

Another factor that was outside of reckoning was the multitude of Black people at this event. It came as a welcome surprise. Too often, I am one of a handful, and that’s being nice. Honestly, I am more often than not one of perhaps two Black people at a rave. This phenomenon is so normal, and the opposite was so true at Emissions, that when we melinated people did cross each other’s paths, it was hard not to acknowledge it. One Black raver, after commenting on my outfit for the day, pulled down his sunglasses and issued forth a simple and complete statement, “Black people!”

Yes indeed. Judgment be damned. This dirt rave was nothing that I expected, save for the prevalent use of n*gger and b*tch used in the stripped-down and non-melodic music. To be fair, the music didn’t all sound the same, but the genre itself is styled off of Trap music, which is a style of rap with an emphasis on sparse lyrics and a high attention to bass. The funny part is hearing White people play and love this style of music, knowing that it comes from “The Hood” and that it directly contributes to the detriment of Black people, as well as women in general. But I digress.

Speaking of degrading women for sport, the skin at this event was enough to work everyone into a frenzy. But the kicker was that never, not once did this event feel like a meat market, as I had earlier feared. In fact, from the production team to the average partier, everyone I met said that this rave felt “safe.” These days, that’s an important factor. “It’s so good not to have to fight someone off every five minutes,” said one raver to the nods and exclamations of her female friends standing nearby.

Bass. Photo Credit: Audrey A.

Bass. Photo Credit: Audrey A.

Then it hit me: there was something about this party that seemed so good. Partly, I accredit it to being such a small event; they cap the ticket sales at around 600. Coupled with the small area in which the rave takes place, you end up seeing everyone over and over again. It’s ripe for a good time and you can make rave buddies and keep interacting with them for literally days, which took the edge off. Even with the hefty amount of drug use around, most people seemed happy and willing to be there together. Instead of women hiding from men and people lurking, there were spontaneous dance groups and speaker piles, the likes of which I haven’t seen since the 90s. Yes, I’m that old. Yes, I’m still raving.

Rave franz.

Rave franz.

This rave was bliss; ecstasy even. When it was time to go, I found myself sad to leave the new dancer buddies I’d met, which really was a good feeling. The couple of “bromances” I had at Emissions left me feeling very differently than I had expected when first invited to come to this dirt rave in the forest. The plain of it is that I barely want to tell anyone about this festival, but I’ve made an exception for you dear reader. Emissions was such a good party that I’d hate to have it spoiled by too much notoriety.

That said, everyone is welcome, and I myself would love to see Belden from the vantage of a hiker on the PCT. Once again I was reminded of what the raver gods teach us: that all are welcome and that music is life. Life indeed is music, if only we are willing to let it play and be open to its many forms. Everyone is welcome on the dance floor no matter if they have a hiking stick or a Thai stick. Emissions in Belden Town is the place to be.

Learn more about Emissions here.

-Taj

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.    

Decadence: Bass, Balloons, & Everything We Loved About This Year's Festival

By: Benjamin Tillis

After several consecutive years of bringing dance music entertainment to Denver, Decadence has become an established music festival during New Year’s holiday season, and it shows. BolderBeat attended the first night of the two-day, EDM-focused event, and we were impressed to see clear improvements from previous years.

First, the lineup…

The first night of Decadence was clearly geared more to the “hard” EDM loving fans. With names like Zed’s Dead and Bassnectar, there were some big dubstep fans ready to get down. The lineup for New Year’s Eve was a little more dancey and mainstream, with names like Marshmello headlining.

Decadence. Photo Credit: Jay Bird.

Decadence. Photo Credit: Jay Bird.

On January 30th, with two main stages and a smaller silent disco, Decadence had no choice but to stack the lineup with talent, and they did just that. The first notable names of the night were Above & Beyond and Alison Wonderland. Although these two acts are significantly different styles of EDM, this was clearly the attendees’ most difficult decision regarding which show to see. Bouncing around both stages, it was obvious that each show was its own party. But Alison Wonderland garnered a larger crowd, which made sense. The only DJs whose names were sported on fans’ clothing were Allison Wonderland and Bassnectar.

Which brings us to the most anticipated performance of the night. Bassnectar, a Colorado favorite, did what he does best: mixing new and old hip-hop with his hard hitting classics. This night’s set included a fun, sped-up remix of “Teach Me How to Dougie,” which of course got the whole crowd moving.

Silent Disco. Photo Credit: Jay Bird.

Silent Disco. Photo Credit: Jay Bird.

Meanwhile, if you wanted a break from the big stages, there were always enough headphones to go around at the “Silent Disco.” Always a fun battle of colors, there were constantly three different DJs competing to change the headphones to their own “channel.” It was surprisingly easy to be social at the Silent Disco though; you could take off your headphones and chat it up with your dancing neighbors!

Vegas favorite Skrillex closed the night with an hour-long 2AM set. He played the oldie “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” and also the entirety of his newer remixes of rap songs, both Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble“ and Travis Scott’s “Sicko Mode.“ The fans were pleased; this set definitely had the most jumping and moving compared to the others.

Next, the logistics…

New Year’s is inevitably a hectic holiday, and when you pack thousands of partying people into one building, it is easy for things to get out of hand. But Decadence did a great job of controlling everything. Entering and exiting moved smoothly, although security was still diligent. And coat check, which can prove to be a huge time waster at events like this, ran efficiently, which was awesome to see. The only word of advice to those who don’t want to wait out the end of their night in the cold at Decadence is to leave 20 minutes before the last set ends to avoid waiting forever for an overpriced Uber/Lyft. Spoken from experience.

Lastly, the production…

The lights and lasers at the stages were impressive, but you didn’t need to see a show to experience cool visuals. Throughout the Denver Convention Center were different light fixtures and displays that had fans double-taking over and over again. Above the crowd were interesting inflated white balloons, and UFO-looking ships that lowered and raised to the music. It was a playground for adults and a really cool sight to see.

After a very successful weekend, it’s safe to say we’re even more excited now to see what Decadence has in store for ringing in 2020!

-Ben

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Sullivan King's 'Fight Back World Tour' Brought the Heaviest Bass I've Ever Seen

By: Ryan Schultz

Sullivan King's Albuquerque stop on his Fight Back World Tour was one of the heaviest bass events I've ever seen. The local opening acts all played great sets, but the one that stood out to me the most was Navallo's. His set was a very fine balance of heavy-hitting trap remixes and melody filled bass tracks.

Navallo.

Navallo.

Sullivan King's set was an epic fusion of crushing heavy metal riffs and massive dubstep basslines which shook the entire venue. He played his 7-string guitar along to his music, and he  sang on some parts, all while DJing.

Sullivan King.

Sullivan King.

Having never seen Sullivan King live before, I was blown away by his performance and would recommend anyone see him live if you haven't already!

You can still catch him on tour until December 22nd and keep up with him here.

-Ryan

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: AMBIT's New Single "Guest House" Will Take You to a Low-Lit Dungeon of Your Choosing

By: Jura Daubenspeck

AMBIT is Denver’s oozy & bizarre garage house trio that is “a little Chicago & a little Detroit.”

AMBIT.

AMBIT.

The eclectic group has some new music for anyone looking to shed their skin a bit and get weird. With a palindromic approach to creating music focusing on loops and patterns, their sound is one you’ll likely find blasting in a late night warehouse party.

Members Jason Iselin (guitar/bass), Eli Mishkin (vocals/guitar/bass), and Jeffrey Wentworth Stevens (bass/modulations/drums) are no strangers to Colorado’s music scene, playing in other bands such as Hot IQs, george&caplin, Wentworth Kersey, and Morriconez. AMBIT then made their start performing at the Underground Music Showcase in 2015.

AMBIT’s minimalistic darkwave sound beckons listeners to unbuckle their brain and get on the dance floor. Their previous releases, including “heartbeat noise,” “townies,” and “night drive,” incorporate dark and wavy bass beats, melancholic vocals, and splashes of space-like synth. At times, AMBIT sounds a bit like The Faint’s Danse Macabre album, while other times, you could swear you have already heard their music featured in the neo-noir crime film Drive.

The band released new music last week; their single “Guest House” dropped, which you can listen to above. “Guest House” follows suit to AMBIT’s previous releases with march-like rhythms, repetitive vocal commands, and a very subtle buildup. So close your eyes while listening to this track, and let yourself be taken to a low-lit dance dungeon of your choosing.

If “Guest House” is indicative of what is to come for AMBIT, there’s much to look forward to. Keep tabs on the band via Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, and Soundcloud for future releases.  

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Savoy's Tasty Electronic Jam Sessions Headed to The Fox Theatre Next Thursday (02/16)

Savoy returns to Boulder, CO next Thursday for another mind-bending show.

Put on your funkiest dancing shoes boy and girls, because next Thursday, February 16th, Savoy returns to Boulder and their signature electronic jam sessions are not to be missed. The largely instrumental duo tend to work the crowd with a battery of different sounds: winding buildups, huge drops, and casually funkified breakdowns always make appearances at their live shows.

Savoy

Savoy

Listeners should expect a variety of singles released in 2016 to fill The Fox Theatre next week. “Living Color,” “Neon Nebraska,” and “The Wolf” are all testaments to Savoy’s never-static sound design and next Thursday’s show should be, as always, an original performance of a constantly evolving Savoy.

Puppet. 

Puppet. 

Savoy always showcases the best talent in the form of opening musicians as well. Puppet, one opener, is an electro-rock space odyssey hailing from the East Coast. Full of trancey vocals galore and a fresh sound, Puppet (Brendan Baldwin) will get the energy high. If you are a fan of HayWyre, you’re going to like Puppet! If you like Evanoff, you’re going to love Puppet!

Blair.

Blair.

Blair, the other opener, promises to “echo all the sexiest bits of the 80s.” With guitar riffs and synth style that plays on the past while exploring the future, Blair (Evan Blair) is going to bring some straight rock’n’roll to the start of the night.

If you have not seen Savoy at Red Rocks, or even if you have, they are not to be missed at a more intimate venue like The Fox. And if you have a list of quality electronic shows you want to see, this should be at the top of it. Get your tickets here. Now.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Evanoff's "Dream Rock" Is EDM + Rock & So Much More

By: Annie Kane

Let me introduce you to “dream rock,” a new genre that the Boulder-born trio, Evanoff, are carving out on their own. What originally started as JJ Evanoff’s solo guitar vision has since grown into the musical experience it is today, with the inclusion of Jake Hall on drums and Parker Oberholzer on bass and synth.

Their most recent release, “Aesthetic Arrest,” showcases the growth this band has experienced since their inception. The song begins steadily, with a series of funky bass guitar notes that evolve into an electronic explosion which bursts and is then broken back down to instrumentals, with more bass, guitar, drums, and some subtle synth. The song then takes flight again, bringing the listener into this ethereal musical collision of sounds, thus earning the “dream rock” titled genre Evanoff have so carefully ascribed to themselves.

Evanoff.

Evanoff.

The constant thread of the guitar not only grounds “Aesthetic Arrest,” but revives an older genre for the contemporary audience, because rock music should and never will die. The song finishes gloriously in a simultaneous electronic and guitar riff buildup, symbolically uniting these once disparate musical genres into a quite beautiful marriage. Evanoff, Oberholzer, and Hall’s skilled abilities in each of their crafts is highlighted strongly throughout the song, and these talents are what set Evanoff up for unparalleled success.

Stream “Aesthetic Arrest” on Spotify:

Evanoff’s presence in the Colorado music scene is hard to ignore, as they have already conquered prominent and beloved venues such as The Fox Theatre, Larimer Lounge, and Cervantes’. They have also brought their undeniably unique sound to huge festivals including Vertex, Euphoria, and Electric Forest. Now, they’re set to tour throughout Colorado and beyond, spreading their infectious new dance music. Whether you’re a Coloradan who has somehow still not caught these guys live, or if you’ve been waiting patiently for them to roll through your city, now is your time to rejoice. Peep Evanoff’s tour poster and get ready to dance your face off.

-Annie

Follow Annie on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Local Hip Hop: Tell Us Who We Should Know About & Go See The Blue Scholars Tomorrow Night.

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Tell us who we should know in local hip-hop.

Hey Boulder! We’ll be honest. We haven’t covered every genre that lives around these mountain parts. But we’re trying to change that! We’ve touched base (bass?) over the past couple of weeks with a couple of Denver hip hop artists for upcoming features and we’re pretty pumped to dive into their scene with them. If you have recommendations on any local hip hop artists that you think we should check out, let us know! Comment below or message us on FB, Twitter, or Instagram. We are definitely looking to promote more sounds.

The Blue Scholars.

The Blue Scholars.

In the meantime, there is a hip hop show happening at the Fox tomorrow night. And you should check it out! The Blue Scholars have made their way to the B from Seattle, Washington. The duo consists of Geo the Rapper (who also goes by prometheusbrown) and Sabzi the Beat Guy. You can check out their latest music video for their track “Anna Karina” below. And then make your way to the Fox to hear it live yo:

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

CU’s Welcomefest Was a Massive Bash Booming with Bass, Lasers, and Infectious Energy

By: Hannah Oreskovich and Greg Laut

Welcome back Buffs.

Welcomefest.

Welcomefest.

The Buffs are back in town. And nothing proved that more than the electric energy buzzing around Farrand Field on Saturday night for CU’s Welcomefest. Put on by Program Council, Welcomefest is CU’s annual concert extravaganza for students. This year the lineup included headliner and dubstep DJ Seven Lions, NY-based Joywave, Denver’s Sunboy, and Boulder’s very own Innerspace. What started out as a few hundred people sitting in the field at 530PM turned into over 7000 students packed along the stage barriers dancing, jumping, and crowdsurfing to Seven Lions’ waves of bass.

Innerspace, a local alternative rock outfit, kicked things off while the sun was still high in the sky. They played some guitar-heavy, head-banging licks from their latest EP, Earthrise. The guys call themselves “space rock” and you can check out a ton of their songs here.

Sunboy. Sidenote: Their bassist wins for "Best Dressed" of the whole fest. we Dig. 

Sunboy. Sidenote: Their bassist wins for "Best Dressed" of the whole fest. we Dig. 

Next up was Denver’s Sunboy, a psychedelic rock pop five-piece with some Tame Impala undertones. These boys have been getting some noticeable buzz lately, and played both the UMS and the Denver Pysch Fest this summer. Though they couldn’t incorporate the visuals they’re known for in their live performances into Saturday’s show, member Justin Renaud told us they recently created a new light production that they’ll be using for upcoming gigs. When we asked hypnotizing frontman and former CU student Jordan Lempe what it was like to be back on campus getting paid for a show, he laughed and told us, “It’s great to be on the other side.” Word.

The silhouettes of Joywave.

The silhouettes of Joywave.

As the sun set, Joywave entered, all in black. Joywave released their debut EP How Does It Feel? just last April, and they’ve already played on a number of late-night TV shows, opened for The Killers, are jetting off to play Reading & Leeds + Lollapalooza Berlin soon, and will return to headline their own US tour following their European adventure. If you caught any of Joywave’s set, you know why. They’re a five-piece indie pop and electronic crew who brought sweet beats, mad energy, and fun stage banter that engaged the crowd. Frontman Daniel Armbruster had CU students dancing, screaming, and jumping with him throughout their set. By the end Armbruster had everyone begging for “One more song!” and the group ended with their most popular track, “Tongues.” The crowd erupted in excitement and a massive sing-along commenced.

Seven Lions. Let it drop.

Seven Lions. Let it drop.

With the night in full swing, DJ Jeff Montalvo aka Seven Lions, took the stage. At this point, Welcomefest was packed. Students crowded against the stage barriers and when Seven Lions emerged, they went crazy. Girls jumped onto the shoulders of boys to rock out, there were tons of crowdsurfers, and everyone was moving to the bass. And that’s because the bass was insane. It was as if Seven Lions was controlling heartbeats with every thump. He had a ton of incredible visuals behind him as well. Lasers jetted out above the crowd until they hit the dorms across the field and the stage lights strobed in time with the beat. 

Seven Lions first gained popularity for his dub and trance tracks in 2011 when he remixed Above & Beyond’s “You Got to Go.” Since then, he’s toured with Porter Robinson and played several notable festivals including SxSW, Ultra, and EDC. And, lucky for the Buffs, Seven Lions just released a brand new track, “Falling Away” on August 14th, which he played at the show. The energy of the crowd was as palpable as the bass, and at some points, the crowd even started “Let’s Go Buffs!” chants. Welcome back, indeed.

Whippin' hair and heartbeats. 

Whippin' hair and heartbeats. 

Overall, Program Council assembled a very successful lineup. When we talked about the bands chosen with Aaron Rogers, Director of Public Relations for Program Council, he told us, “The whole process [of booking acts] takes months. Booking depends on budget, timing, artist availability, and a whole lot of other factors.” This year, Program Council’s time and investment were clearly worth it.

Well done Welcomefest.

-Hannah and Greg

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter. Follow Greg on Twitter.

All photos per the authors. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Watch a Seven Lions video below: