Denver Local Showcase: Marco Shuttle Live Official Review!

Draft2Good afternoon! Tis’ the season for yuletide cheer and barside beers, and if you’re like us (which we assume you are), you’re spending the holidays in the warming embrace of beats galore. While the physical House of Acid_Reviews may be buried under almost a foot of snow, that doesn’t mean we can’t spread our love of Techno to the winterized streets of Denver. We’ve turned the lights back on, and this time we’re staying for good. In celebration of our relocation to the Blue Mountain State, we’ve curated an exclusive review to showcase the thriving music scene here with local beat-fanatic Evan Franklin! The decades-old movement of Techno is alive and well in the Colorado capital, and we’ve got the goods ready to flow out like an iron fist of sonic love. We are proud to present our first of many guest-reviews, an inaugural analysis of live music from our new Denver affiliate Evan. Check out his exclusive review of underground mainstay Marco Shuttle, who took the weekend to a new sonic level last Friday at Eko-House!

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If there is one thing to be said of Denver’s techno scene: they are committed. I would even go as far as to call them “ravenous,” yet while their hunger is nearly limitless, they are also one of the most polite, accommodating, and well-mannered groups of music fans I have encountered. I believe this can be attributed in a tremendous way to one of the city’s techno masterminds: John Templeton. Not only is he an incredible musical entity in his own right (making his Bunker NY debut the evening following this event), but he has been one of the sharpest and most attentive Colorado promoters since the inception of his now-retired Communikey collective over a decade ago. His savviness as a promoter has been proven time and time again, (see RA’s review of Denver’s Great American Techno Festival for a glimmering example) and this night was no different.

Marco Shuttle was slated to play the Eko House, a south Denver art gallery moonlighting as a space for techno/house/what-have-you parties. It was also slated to be the inaugural event of Templeton’s new project/collective: Vicious Circle. Eko House was a staple of the aforementioned GATF, and seemed promising as one of Denver’s new afterhours hotspots. That was, until they closed their doors to music mere weeks before the night of the shuttle event. Where another promoter’s knees may have buckled, Templeton saw only opportunity. A new space was secured, and what a space it was.

The new space, predictably located in a warehouse-looking district on the outskirts of town, turned out to be more inviting than I could have imagined. Upstairs was a well-lit living room with many a likeminded soul chatting and procuring libations from the impressively well-stocked bar. After grabbing a beverage of my own (purely for innard-warming purposes, it was a chilly one in Denver), I proceeded to descend the rail-thin cement stairs to the remarkably well soundproofed basement area. After paying my dues, I entered what can only be described as a den of techno. It was a basement, but the VC crew had ensured impeccable sound, and the body-to-space ratio was right on the money, more on that later.

One of Vicious Circle’s heavy hitters – alala.one – opened things up from 10-12. For those unfamiliar with the Denver techno scene, alala.one is doing big things. She played one of my favorite sets of music in 2014 (a difficult task for any Denver resident dealing with the blessing/curse of musical saturation lately) opening for Voices from the Lake during the aforementioned CMKY’s 10-year-anniversary last year. She has an incredible ear for sound and subtlety, and I only expect great things from her in the future.

Marco Shuttle came on a bit after midnight, and the excitement in the room was palpable. As I mentioned, the space was small. The basement entrance led down a slim hallway which opened up into approximately a 25 x 25’ space before the stage. This is where Denver’s community of techno-troopers comes into play. If you just wanted to go out and shake your nethers on a Friday night while you gab to your friends about your Saturday plans… you most likely aren’t driving to the outskirts of Denver to stand elbow-to-elbow and actually listen to the music. This is the magic of events like this. Everyone in that room came to see the man himself, Marco Shuttle, grace them with artistic skill on the decks, and grace us he did. Every time I looked around I saw smiles wall-to-wall. Someone actually laughed at me for my apology after bumping into them with my dancing.

Shuttle is a DJ in high-demand. Owner of his own Eerie imprint, with releases on Bunker NYC and more, he understands the music scene of which he is a part, and that scene gets him. An artist living in London by way of Italy, he is a man well-educated in what works on the dancefloor, and on this brisk Rocky Mountain evening he proved it. After a short, ambient intro he began to warm things up with some surprisingly bumping (apologies for the adjective) tech-house tracks. For a man renowned for his experimental, minimal approach, it seemed like he was really trying to get the crowd moving. I am a lover of most things dancefloor, so I was loving the unexpected, bright eyed intro, and looking around I was relieved to see many familiar techno-purists (both friends and acquaintances) loving it as well.

This tech-house foray was very energy driven, from bouncing UK-house to more Balaeric/Italo sounding tracks like “VI” from fellow Italian producer Musumeci. I was a bit surprised by the punchy, retro-sounding arpeggiators in tracks like that, but again, I love it all. I believe once he saw the room needed no warming up, he proceeded to the hashtag-techno even sooner than anticipated.

After a few more accessible techno tracks, he descended into the real festivities with quite an apropos track: Lucy Cosmic’s remix of Pact Infernal’s “The Descent (Part I)”. The track is 14 minutes of thematic, spine-chilling peaks and valleys, and it was the perfect way to delve into this section of his set. I couldn’t recognize the tracks he was layering on top of and/or beneath it (as I could tell he was only working with 2 CDJs), but he made an already cinematic song even more of a journey. From this point on, things got very hypnotic. I’m usually a 2-step kind of guy, who compulsively feels the need to tip-tap every which way, but for long stretches of this set I was standing there with my eyes closed (drug free, by the way) looking like a complete moron. I don’t regret it for a second. The man knows how to work a room.

The workshop in peak-and-valley techno performed by Shuttle is not one soon to be forgotten. Just as the crowd would reach near-hypnotized bliss, he would segue smoothly into a punchier, aggressive track like Diagenetic Origin’s “Golden Age”, a percussion-driven full body workout. The night really was a smorgasbord of techno styles, and the BPM variation in retrospect was very impressive, as I barely noticed at the time. At points, he reached nearly 140 bpm with tracks like El Bosco’s remix of “Necessary Resources”.
In summation, everything about this night was memorable. I would like to reiterate that John Templeton’s new Vicious Circle collective made a smashing debut, not only booking a fantastic artist and being quick to deal with venue issues, but by having two of their incredible crew (alala.one and COWARD) open and close the night. The crowd, veterans and new faces alike, were nothing short of gracious in a space where many others couldn’t have handled the heat, and most importantly Marco Shuttle. The man is a true professional, playing a 3+ hour set and never letting the room out of his grip, all while pensively mixing, tweaking, selecting, and perfecting his set with catlike precision (although some of my favorite moments were watching him suppress a smile watching someone in the crowd lose their minds when they heard a certain track).

This was a grand-slam debut for Vicious Circle, and I hope to see them continue on this streak – although history tells us they already will.

-Evan Franklin

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Posted on December 15, 2015, in Show Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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