We spent all of Friday afternoon in anxious anticipation of the evening's show, and by the time we arrived at Red Rocks' Upper North Lot - littered, of course, with tailgaters, hacky-sackers, and the occasional suspicious-looking guy asking around for drugs - the excitement was palpable. It's hard to think of a venue on Earth that compares to the beauty of Red Rocks, and the combination of the early summer breeze and the ominous grey clouds overhead made it feel even more immense than usual. Let's be real: we all knew something huge was about to go down.
Descending the stairs into the venue, we were greeted by a familiar sight. As opening act Lunice dropped his signature glitchy bass, the rows were already beginning to fill up with seas of neon clothes and glowsticks shimmering against the dusk. The crowd may have seemed slightly more mellow than, say, the crowd at Bassnectar, but still, we saw a girl get dragged out by two security guards before Zion I was even halfway through their set. The energy spiked as night fell, and by the time MiMOSA had finished and we sat under house lights with Michael Jackson playing on the venue's loudspeakers, we were practically dying for Ghostland Observatory to take the stage.
Finally, the lights went black, a smoke machine (or was it...?) fired up from somewhere out in the crowd, and the wind seemed to kick up just a notch. Lasers shot into the sky over the first beats of "Glitter." So good to have you back with us in Colorado Ghostland!
There are shows that are pretty self-explanatory - you show up, drink $8 beers, watch a few acts, dance a little, and go home content. But there are others that are something more - true events, true spectacles, moments that are too impressive to forget. Ask anyone that was at Red Rocks on Friday night, and you'll discover that this particular show very much fell into the latter category.
Producer Thomas Turner and vocalist/guitarist Aaron Behrens - barely recognizable with his freshly-shorn locks - both have a presence that absolutely commands attention. Behrens flew around the stage like a veritable maniac, flailing back and forth and occasionally even falling to his knees mid-song. And maybe by now we have all gotten used to watching DJs press the play button on their MacBook Pros, but Turner, cloaked in a silver cape, was fascinating to watch as he furiously banged on his synth. "Give Me the Beat" and "Codename: Rondo" were just a couple of many of the set's highlights. "Rondo" comes off on record as little more than a silly monologue, but live, it was completely transformed with Behrens' distorted vocals slurring under the steady, plodding beat and the constant refrain: "Listen." We listened.
Visually, the show was nothing less than an assault. Ghostland's laser show is virtually indescribable to those who haven't witnessed it: flat panels of rainbow light frantically shooting out over the crowd or into the air, constantly twisting and changing and dancing. This is how a lightshow is done; take note. The crowd and the environment both lent a hand as well, with glowsticks and bubbles sporadically flying out toward the stage, the breeze swirling the smoke from the fog machine, lightning flashing somewhere out above the Denver skyline, and thousands of bodies dancing along to it all. If there were ever an appropriate time for the word 'epic,' this was it.
By the end of the set, as everyone screamed the chorus to "Sad Sad City" and donned their sunglasses to protect their eyes from the lasers, there may not have been a single person standing still in the whole place. We felt a familiar sadness as the lightshow died out, the guys left the stage, and the venue's house music came on - but wait! We heard Behrens' voice echo out over the crowd again, and the music was promptly shut off. "Why don't we play something we've never played before?" The crowd roared in approval, thankful for the chance to hear new material and the fact that the show would go on for just a little longer. We were disappointed when it finally reached the end - the real end - but we all left with ringing ears, tired and sweaty, thankful that we had been a part of it.