We’ve made it to June, and Red Rocks season is in full swing. There is an event nearly every single night from now until the end of the summer, and while it may be tempting to head up to the rocks every single night, most of us need to budget the money and time to attend a select few. For those of us who included Funk on the Rock in those plans, a magical evening awaited. It was another beautiful night up in Morrison. The parking lots buzz with the excitement and activity of thousands of people preparing to move their bodies in synchronicity. The sun shone brilliantly upon the rocks, bathing the amphitheater and pushing away clouds previously thought to rain upon the venue.
Kicking off the evening was Hayden James, a solo artist on the rise from Sydney, Australia. His distinctive brand of feel good house music welcomed in the crowd to the perfect mood. He played a range of his own tracks, including favorites like “Something About You”, “Permission to Love” and “Just A Lover”. The LED’s behind the stage glowed bright with his name, accompanied by shifting backgrounds. Backed by Future Classic and Casablanca Records, Hayden James has a bright career ahead of him and I expect to see his name move up the bill over time.
Next to the stage was Claptone, filling in for D.R.A.M. who was unable to perform for reasons unknown to me. Fortunately, Claptone was the perfect replacement. He hopped on stage and seamlessly took the reigns from Hayden James, providing a mellow yet upbeat set to stir the crowd. As Claptone effortlessly mixed between tracks, the amphitheater continued to fill out into a beautiful sea of people. If you missed out and are looking for the next opportunity to dance with the masked DJ, Claptone will be back to Denver on July 8th at Club Vinyl after touring the world. Next up is the band who, in my opinion, stole the show.
After a brief intermission, the trio behind RÜFÜS DU SOL (Tyrone Lindqvist, Jon George and James Hunt) took the stage to thunderous waves of applause. Fresh from their Lighting in a Bottle performance, I was excited to see what they would bring to the stage. Their live setup consists of Tyrone on the vocals and the guitar, Jon on keyboards and James on the guitar. My eyes and ears were transfixed for an hour straight, moved by the beautiful sounds composed on the stage. Their visual display consisted of extremely simple yet captivating graphics, shapes morphing and melding into each other. Over the course of their set, they played tracks off their debut album Atlas and their newest album Bloom. During “Innerbloom”, they asked for the crowd to hold up their lights and illuminate the venue, to which the crowd happily obliged. 360 video footage of the entire song can be found above. By the time they left the stage, the sun had set behind the rocks and cast the venue in darkness, illuminated only by the glow of the moon.
Funk on the Rocks would not be complete without a headlining performance by Chromeo. The funk duo emerged on stage to chant of “Chromeo, ooohhhhhh” and the flash of white lights, which the crowd happily chanted back. Dave 1 and P-Thugg stood on stage behind their signature women’s legs. Dave 1 alternated between wicked guitar solos, vocals, and keyboard harmonies, as P-Thugg took care of the synth melodies and sang into a vocal transformer. Their set flew by, and while I was entertained and danced my head off, I couldn’t stop thinking of the performance I had just seen by RÜFÜS. Chromeo was a great way to end off the night, but I think that RÜFÜS performed the star performance of the night. I look forward to the 2018 edition of Funk on the Rocks and hearing new music from the Canadian Funk Lords.
Written by Hunter Saillen
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