Pretty Lights at Red Rocks, 8/17/12

Categories: Concert Reviews

Britt Chester
Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights at Red Rocks.


See also: Q&A with Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights

Similar to the unprecedented Skrillex show at Red Rocks last week, the Pretty Lights show started with a five-minute countdown and Trentemoller's "Take Me Into Your Skin" playing over the speakers. A Colorado flag with the Pretty Lights brand waved on the screen as the numbers winded down, and just as the thirty-second mark hit, Derek Vincent Smith took the stage in his traditional black shirt/black PL flat-bill hat combination to blast out the opening cuts from Glowing In the Darkest Night, the third entry in the three-part EP set he released in 2010.

Britt Chester
Derek Vincent Smith of Pretty Lights at Red Rocks.

Following the countdown, Smith jumped into a host of samples from those EPs (Making Up a Changing Mind, Spilling Over Every Side and the aforementioned Glowing In the Darkest Night) before taking things up a notch with "Keep Em Bouncin," which is where the energy level peaked for a while.

When you're dealing with two nights at Red Rocks, as an artist, you have to make a decision about how you want those nights to flow. Smith opted to keep things in the hip-hop realm, meaning the night didn't reach the apex of energy that some might have hoped for. There was no real peak in the evening, but that doesn't speak to the quality of sound and light the audience experienced.

Britt Chester

Smith shared some new tracks that were a good guide as to what to expect from the seasoned vet in the future. They're glitchy and leave a lot of the fluidity of previous work in the dust in terms of danceability. The new sounds are leading the way for sample-heavy tracks that are delicately mixed with precision, resulting in what feels like an entire album mashed into one song. But, it works -- at least for Smith.

Following a three- or four-song mash-up of new material, Smith jumped back into some old flavor with "Aimin' At Your Head," "Can't Stop Me Now," and "I Can See it in Your Face," which pretty much sums up the new era of disco. If Skrillex is the new face of rock and roll, which he clearly displayed last week, PrettyLights is the new disco. Or, nu disco.

Britt Chester
Following this dose of dope mayhem, Smith pulled the ultimate rabbit out of his flat-bill hat by bringing in Eligh and Grouch, two of the night's supporting emcees, on a collaborated track set to be released at a later date. For reference, the vocal hook went heavy on "Let's get busy," which is presumably the title of said track. It's only a matter of time before this dance/dubstep/EDM thing tackles more of the live element, and where there is a lack, or need for that matter, of organic musicians, the implementation of emcees brought a whole new, welcome element to the show.

Smith's outro came in the form of "Hot Like Sauce," and "Finally Moving," otherwise known as the two tracks that sent him to the top of the college music charts. These were the songs that really built him up, and they are still the songs that people love. It's the equivalent of Led Zeppelin playing "Stairway to Heaven," in that we all know the songs so well that it's almost annoying to hear them at a certain point. But last night, it wasn't annoying, and with hem the Nu-Disco King to be claimed his place at the throne.

Continue through to read about the rest of the acts.

Location Info


Red Rocks Amphitheatre

18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO

Category: General

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Last year, the Pretty Lights 2-night-run was amazing, the best show I've ever seen.  I guess I had high expectations, but was ultimately disappointed this year.  I know the energy level can't always be through the roof, but it really never made it to that point.  People don't assume that will be a mellow show, and overall it was.  Some of the transitions between songs were a bit rough.  Toward the end of the show he kept saying "Red Rocks, get your f@#$ing hands up!" He expected high energy from the audience while playing low energy was just, off.  Also, no encore on a hometown two night run? WEAK.  We don't need to hear Finally Moving twice, that is part of the whole two-night package.  If people want to see the whole catalog, they need to go both nights.


 @SOver Thank you for saying it first. I hate to say it but I completely agree. Not only was I disappointed with both shows, what really disappoints me is to see the direction that Pretty Lights is going. I've always respected how DVS kept some distance between his music and the rest of the Americanized dubstep movement, but hip-hop? Sorry Derek, your music is not hip hop. The Grouch and Eli did not deserve to play Red Rocks with him and don't even get me started on their retarded "Tell your person to your left 'You aint artsier than me!'" shit. His music was always at its best when he produced bangers that got the crowd going absolutely wild and these shows had none of those moments. His stage production also wasn't as intense as the LED city he's been touring with for the last year. The huge focus on the artistic videos makes me think his girlfriend has become his Yoko Ono.  I just hope his new album has some more upbeat songs because I have been anxiously waiting for it for the past couple years.

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