By Daniel Paiz
Right about now the rattling in Denver has ceased, no thanks to Fatboy Slim’s sonic selections. The hard-hitting, UK Big Beat sound reverberating throughout Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom left a mark. That is to say, there are very few artists who could’ve given an audience so much energy and effort.
What’s even more impressive is it felt like a magic act right before our eyes.
A Big Beat Revival
The moniker of “Big Beat” is one that caught on for DJs and electronic artists from the UK in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Fatboy Slim, The Prodigy, Chemical Brothers and others are often described as this sound. It’s hard to describe what it is, but it basically feels like a mix of Hip-Hop, House, and a lot of pop and vocal samples; Slim had all of these sounds and more all night. What’s impressive about Fatboy Slim’s set is how fluid it went. Each song chosen, each vocal sample or verse blended with a smorgasbord of sounds felt like it had been originally recorded that way.
There are few DJs that I’ve witnessed able to keep the crowd literally moving the entire night. DJ Z-Trip and DJ Craze might be the only other artists who have accomplished this feat in my experience; Tiesto, Above and Beyond, Tokimonsta were close. Government name Norman Quentin Cook figured out how to keep the energy up despite the music feeling like it didn’t decrease in energy. What puzzles me is how he did so, so effortlessly.
There were very few moments where I could detect the natural up and down, peaks and valleys of a performance. Z-Trip is in this conversation because of how he rides that energy in his genre-bending selections. Fatboy Slim seemed to set the tempo and use that energy almost as a fuel, powering the set along at nearly full speed ahead.
Different kind of energy
Fatboy Slim’s engagement was in every single track, and that’s uncommon to see today. Artists are of course engaged in terms of choosing what’s played next and how long it’ll play. But, Cook was singing every chorus pouring out, and every beat shaking the room. “Da-da, daaa-da, da, da, da, daaah-dah” or similar versions greeted the raucous crowd at every build-up or drop. Slim also popped out from his table from time to time to high-five and encourage the crowd. If you didn’t know this guy’s career spans decades, you almost might think he was a hungry new artist seeking to grow his fanbase.
That’s unusual and very welcomed, especially during an ongoing global pandemic. Attendees also seemed to forget COVID is still around as masks were few and far between. Cervantes tried with signs everywhere and staff wearing masks; hopefully COVID took a break to jam out too.
The good news from January 21st, 2022 is Fatboy Slim reminded Denver how music can bring together people in very divided times. Hopefully more shows can do that in the future. Right about now, that’s all we can ask for since eat, sleep, rave, repeat isn’t so feasible.