Emancipator Ensemble Red Rocks review by E.P Pirt, Jr.
Emancipator made his much-anticipated return to Red Rocks this past Sunday, August 27th, with the entire ensemble…and then some. The opening honors were given to some top notch talents, starting with Machinedrum, leading into the veteran DJ/analog wizard RJD2, and then the rowdy Australian who goes by Opiuo. But they weren’t just any regular ol’ DJ openers…RJD2 AND Opiuo both brought their respective bands, and neither disappointed.
While seeing RJD2 do his thing and play the classics with a live band was a really cool first, it was The Opiuo Band who just may have stolen the show. I shouldn’t have been surprised by how good they were after being blown away by them at Sonic Bloom 2016, but nonetheless there I was with my jaw dropped and my body swaying. I didn’t think they could be any better than they were at Bloom, but I guess an extra year+ of rehearsing and performing only made them tighter.
I feel like I’ve been saying this a lot lately about “electronic bands”, but they really didn’t sound like an electronic artist playing with a live band, they just sounded like a band. The line between electronic music and live bands is becoming very blurry, and artists like Opiuo are leading the way. Big shout out to the badass vocalist for the group who brings an extra juicy dose of soul to the sound, or as I like to call her, Aretha 2.0. The track from their set that stands out the most in my memory is ‘Sneakers’, which they dropped towards the end of the set and really set the tone for the main act.
The energy that The Opiuo Band brought left the crowd salivating for more music, and they wouldn’t have to wait long until the Emancipator Ensemble quenched their thirst. While not as energetic as Opiuo, EE brought just enough of it to keep the crowd vibing while still taking the rowdiness down a notch to a welcome level of chill. They eased into the set with ‘First Snow‘, an ethereal opening to what would be a captivating set.
It’s a wonder the Ensemble hasn’t headlined Red Rocks before because they have a sultry yet lively sound that suits it perfectly. It was easy to get lost while gazing upon the crescent shaped layout of the band bathed in the soft and subtly lit stage. Clark Smith, the saxophonist from local trio DYNOHUNTER made a memorable appearance that was a special nod to the talent of the local Denver scene, and was the perfect cherry on top of a special night late in the season on the Rocks. It may have been a Sunday, but I prefer to refer to it as Senday, because every artist sent it that night.