by Austin Williams
It’s 1 a.m. on December 31st. A crowd of exhausted, sweaty, young bassheads fills the floor of the Colorado Convention Center. Everyone stands in an excited hush, with Bassnectar’s just-finished set freshly sinking into their hearts and minds, and the building anticipation of how Gramatik could top a set from such a veteran of bass. Just as some people start to debate going out for a cigarette, up come the lights flashing the iconic and nostalgic Gramatik logo, and out comes the legend himself. The crowd may be tired, but with such a beautiful blend of gorgeous guitar licks, funky bass lines, and heavy electro, everybody erupts back into dance.
Denis Jasarevic, along with the help of very talented musical co-pilot Andrew Block, played a game of cat and mouse with the audience. They would start slow with the lowtemp grooves, then flip the script and take everybody by surprise with heavy bass hits, all the while keeping the hip hop boom bap style throughout. He showcased classics such as Expect Us and Torture, showing off his astounding talent with live instruments. The duo’s delightful piano and guitar melodies along with a splash of brass had everyone nodding their head and shaking their hips without effort. Filthy Grizmatik tracks like DLIF and My People were sprinkled in despite the absence of his funkadelic counterpart Grant (aka GRiZ) this year. In the midst of his beautiful original music, Denis found time to mix in some of his favorite tracks. The best of which being the Oliver remix of Dangerous by Dig Data, a banger that definitely woke the crowd up and got them on their feet. He mixed in other greats such as Honey by Moby, Superstition by Stevie Wonder, and Hyperparadise by Hermitude, as well as a mix of Terror Squad by Zomboy and Skrillex’s Make It Bun Dem. To the delight of Gramatik followers, Denis not only dropped Virtual Insight but finished with an encore of Native Son. It was a fantastic blend of old school Gramatik and new unfamiliar tracks that kept everybody on the toes of their dancing shoes.
Another noteworthy aspect was the lights and visuals used during the performance. Denis did a great job of using his logo as the center piece of his visual set up. The screens behind and surrounding him would strike the logo, then fade into a variety of animations. These included an electrified chain of Mayan script in the style of his new album, Epigram. This was followed by an adorable horror scene of sticky, wide-mouthed orbs swarming over one another for the Superstition drop. The famed mammoth made an appearance standing silhouetted on a background planet as a shooting comet flew through a colorful animated sky. The crisp detail of the screens was a gorgeous center piece, but almost more beautiful were the spotlights and lasers used throughout the convention center. Spotlights of every color of the rainbow raised and lowered between large screen flashes, giving the visual aspect of the set just as much of an acoustic jam feel as the funky beats being pumped into the room.
Despite how much everybody hurt after grooving out every last bit of energy, one could not walk away from day one of Decadence without beaming at the fact that they had just witnessed the kick off of the Epigram tour. The talented live duo debuted the new show with style, finesse, and of course, a ton of lasers. Denis and Eric will continue blessing ears across the U.S. and Europe, hitting Lollapalooza and the Okeechobee Music Festival, and ending in France on April 23. Coloradans can only hope they will come back this summer for more juicy, heavy, funky, and delicious live jams.