By Daniel Paiz
As you have undoubtedly realized by now, concerts and live music are a central focus here at Cypher Sessions. Part of that is due to how an artist’s live performance impacts how their music hits, part of it is because music is cathartic. In this newest installment of concert reviews, we’re going to attempt a very daunting task.
Now if you’ve been to a music festival, seeing two acts in the same night can be difficult but not quite impossible. Unfortunately this is no music festival. This is going from one historic concert venue (Cervantes‘ Masterpiece Ballroom, home to many of our favorite shows throughout history) and a newer venue that continues to build its own history (EXDO Event Center). Luckily both are in the downtown Denver area, unluckily they aren’t truly within walking distance of each other when it comes to maximizing viewing time of both acts.
So, tonight is about prioritizing some artists over others. DJ Qbert is priority number one as I’ve have yet to witness him; Carl Cox is priority number two. Ideally I can go from Cervantes to Exdo and back to Cervantes to see Qbert and Z-Trip perform a back-to-back set, but it might not happen. Unfortunately for me and Josh Wink, he likely will be missed as his set likely will be at the same time as Qbert. Below will be an update of who I see and who I miss.
UPDATE: I achieved exactly what I was hoping for and then some. Fortunately both Qbert and Z-Trip warmed up the evening with a teaser of their B2B set later in the evening before Qbert showed just how much of an equal he is to Z-Trip. I shockingly didn’t know Q and Z are wizards on the wheels of steel, but now I know!
I also made it to see Carl Cox; it wasn’t what I was expecting. I missed Josh Wink, but that was acceptable due to the priority list. Read below for further detail.
First stop, Cervantes
Qbert is one of those artists I’ve had on my must-see list for years and it hadn’t happened for me yet. Thankfully that changed tonight, and what a night to witness. A drum and bass set from this man? He definitely had some Hip Hop and other genres in the mix, but I fully underestimated what this guy can do. His scratches are only matched in my experience from Z-Trip and Jazzy Jeff; I can’t think of anyone else in their league.
Those scratches were flawless. The buildups were clever and frankly relentless. I’m gushing over here because I had no expectations going in and Qbert delivered a master class.
Z-Trip also had a fantastic night, but there was no surprise there. This was my third time witnessing his alchemy, and second twofold witnessing a back-to-back set at Cervantes. Z-Trip has the perfect description for what he and Qbert accomplish: turntable Jazz. I dare anyone to deliver or show me a better remix of “Bulls on Parade” from these two turntable geniuses; it can’t be done. I’m finally out of praise, so let’s shift gears.
A tale of two sets…
Dance music is my default second most listened to genre behind hip-hop, for two reasons: I have friends who make this music, and several artists I listen to make both hip hop and dance music. Carl Cox is one of those bucket-list artists for dance music aficionados, and one of the few popular old school guys I hadn’t experienced. Tonight explained for me why Cox is on so many people’s radar, oh yes it did.
Did it really have to take him the full hour to buildup the set? I only heard the fruition of the buildup in the last ten minutes I was there (my phone was at 5% and I barely had enough to get a Lyft home). However I sort of understand the dedication Carl Cox fans have. He clearly has fun with the set he builds throughout the evening, and the payoff from the build is pretty impressive.
I could not name a single song, but each one was full of bass and groove.
This is my second time going to two concerts in one night, but my first where they’re both going on at the exact same time. It’s not recommended for everyone and honestly requires a bit of additional planning compared to a regular concert night out. I think it’ll be awhile before I attempt this again, but it taught me something.
Bring your damn external battery charger, and split your time a bit more evenly between shows. Honestly I should’ve started things off with Carl Cox and finished with Qbert and Z-Trip, because I was at a high level of excitement and anticipation. That’s not necessarily the best way to go into discovering a new artist.
Don’t get me wrong, Carl was funky oh yes he was. But starting off with someone new is a better idea then finishing with them. Start with the new and the experience will likely be better.