Words by: Chris Clark | Images by: Kristin Toler
Pnuma Trio, Pretty Lights & Nosaj Thing :: 07.26.08 :: Mishawaka Amphitheatre :: Bellvue, CO
For those who've had the distinct pleasure of traveling west up the Poudre Canyon to the fabled Mishawaka Amphitheatre, the words and pictures in this review will be a kindly reminder of the delicate and harmonious beauty this river-strewn stretch of Colorado exhibits. Several miles up the winding two-lane road, mountain on one side, rushing water on the other, comes one of the most pristine places for music this country has to offer. There's the obvious "Best Outdoor Venues" such as The Gorge and Red Rocks, true. But in The Mish there's pure bliss - a 900-person capacity, wooden covered stage overlooking rock formations, evergreens and, of course, the Poudre Canyon. Combining with all of nature's glory is a certain mentality and vibe shows here possess; a complete and utter display of smiles, personal enjoyment and high-fives. Not that one can't witness such things elsewhere, but here at The Mish, there's no one around to tell you NO!
It had been four years since I last enjoyed the Poudre Canyon in all its magnificence, back when STS9 was still coming up and few places outside of Cali, Colorado and the Southeast knew who they were. Since then, many shows have happened here, but none quite like this incarnation of Euphonic Conception's Re:Creation. Boulder's sonic pioneering duo of Josh Pollack and Dave Sheldon have been hyping crowds throughout the country the last couple years and the shows keep getting more diverse and better received. International, national and regional acts share the same bills, incorporating some of the highest quality electronic-based music anyone around is putting together. This night featured a primarily local Colorado flavor, with Boulder electro-funksters Savoy, FSP, Pretty Lights and their umbrella of sound, L.A.'s Nosaj Thing and the night's (and early morning) headliners, Pnuma Trio.
Let's just say, what a night of music. From 9 p.m. to the sun's first rays after 5 a.m., the music was non-stop. An enthusiastically packed crowd of scenesters, neo-hippies and hip-hop heads relished in Re:Creation's balance and musicality. Pretty Lights' Michal Menert and Derek Smith undoubtedly were one of the evening's premier sets, incorporating a diverse, beat-bumping sound that, on several occasions, had the entire crowd in a light-infused frenzy. A younger, freshman-aged, sideways hat kid coming up to me proclaiming, "How can two guys put out so much music?'" Good question. You just have to get close enough to see.
|Nosaj Thing :: 07.26.08 :: Mishawaka Amphitheatre|
Nosaj Thing, whom I just saw for the first time in San Francisco a couple months ago, is a purely ridiculous sound innovator. As was the case the first time around, his textural beats had heads bobbing and people moving from the get-go as he dropped a tasteful array of sweaty, crowd-pleasing, glitched-out hip-hop production beats. A sure bet for one of the premier underground products to arise from the depths of the L.A. scene in some time, Nosaj certainly made dozens of new fans and opened their ears to a blaze of fresh, new beats.
No doubt about it, Pnuma Trio and the offshoot, Pnuma PA were the champions of the show. I've been hip to the band since their inception and have watched them grow as people and musicians since their already impressive career began. After the critical acclaim of the recently released Character and countless showstoppers over the last couple years, the now Boulder-based trio (and duo) proved to The Mish what the hype is all about. Hitting the stage after midnight, the trio configuration tore through a seductive set mixed with slivers of the danceable, jazzy, old-school Pnuma (before the Trio was added on) and the in-your-face soundscapes of the new material. Between Alex Botwin's crafty, beat-perfect compositions and onstage demeanor, Ben Hazlegrove's textural touches and Lane Shaw's dynamic mastery of dropping beats that make your head spin, this was a set of pure musical fire.
I can't forget the guest appearance of The Motet's master sax-man Dominic Lalli. His deliciously funky saxophone worked perfectly with the bumping electronics of the Trio, a masterful fit I witnessed a week earlier when he hit the stage with BLVD. There's no doubt the man can play, and Lalli with the Trio proved a seamless fit.
|Pnuma Trio with Dominic Lalli :: 07.26.08 :: The Mish|
From backstage to the back of the crowd, Mishawaka was a conglomerate of Colorado getting shown quite a time. Drum 'n' bass, glitch, hip-hop, funk, whatever, it was all there. Throw in a couple projection screens, quality light work and an impressive sound system and you have a real EC Presents experience. Shortly after the Trio left the stage, Pnuma PA returned. Botwin and Shaw once again did what they do best - hype a crowd to the point of exhaustion. Both have become stellar performers, feeding the crowd all the energy they need to make it through an eight-hour show. After one of the most impressive Pnuma PA sets imaginable finished, well, some went into the river, others enjoyed the seclusion of the island, while others did who knows what.
A day later, I realized just how intimate and enjoyable an experience I, and essentially everyone around me, had. Through the conscious efforts of Euphonic Conceptions in producing a fully greened event that was both comfortable and intense, the Mishawaka Amphitheatre and those in attendance got to fully enjoy the great outdoors, hand-in-hand with some of the best music Colorado has to offer.
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