Words & Images by: Tk Kayembe
Re:Convergence :: 11.13.09 & 11.14.09 :: Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom & Quixote's True Blue :: Denver, CO
Euphonic Conceptions joined up with SetUFree Music to bring BoomBox's second annual Convergence Festival to a recently snowcapped Denver. Joined by some of the greatest, most noteworthy audio manipulators around and hosted at adjoined venues Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom and Quixote's True Blue, the shows went off smoothly for a packed audience raging deep into 4 a.m. both nights
Walking into Quixote's, I was greeted by the crunky tech-hop of Boulder-based dyad Fresh2Death. Kids on the floor were fully wrapped up in the sound as Fisk and Samples had the 480-capacity venue, which typically hosts funk and jam bands, packed and moving like a velvet rope night club. Dropping originally produced tracks and remixes including Samples' "Oh My," "Chronic 'N Reebokz" by Fisk, and "Hit That Jive" by Gramatik, their hyphy lazer bass supported the backbeat to the party, popping bodies as if performing in a 2020 champagne room. Fairly new to the scene, they're quickly making themselves known, slaying shows and independently selling in the top three most downloaded on beatport.com. Make sure to keep an eye out for both Fisk and Samples as their blossoming careers are just beginning to take off.
|Lazer Sword :: Re:Convergence 2009|
As Fresh2Death wound down, Samiyam appeared side stage in a haze of smoke. Part of the Brainfeeder crew (alongside Flying Lotus, Lorn, Teebs, etc), Samiyam's skill, coupled with a painstaking attention to detail, makes him one of the best among the new wave of electro hip hop producers. Hammering out gut-busting bass lines bracketed with melodic leads and snappy, idiosyncratic backing drums, Samiyam stomped around onstage just as hard as those watching in the crowd. Even more impressive was how he operated his entire set from a Roland SP-404 sampler, controlling samples, layering effects, and transitioning scenes in and out with impeccable accuracy. Some tracks were hard head-bangers with ghetto-tech rapapellas supporting them, others were slow swayers with woozy minor chord progressions submerged in deep underwater flanger reverb. No matter what he was playing, it was all fully engaging and his set maintained heavy energy from start to finish. His brand is truly the thinking man's hip hop.
After fully indulging myself in Samiyam's superb performance, I made my way past spinning heads and overloaded busboys to catch Two Fresh. On and off the stage, Southern brothers Sherwin and Kendrick Nicholls flex their rhythmic expertise. Their understanding and appreciation of music of various varieties is apparent, as evidenced by their recent 1320 Records debut, Bakers Dozen. Joined live by drummer Colby Buckler, the trio moved the audience through the set apprehensively as fans faithfully followed function, freely, flutteringly, and fervently as they traveled through tracks such as "You Are Too," which beautifully samples Harold Melvin's "If You Don't Know Me By Now" while adding funky synth bass with scuttled leads atop the perfect one-two drumbeat. Other highlights included "Night Owl" and "Recollection" from their latest release, in addition to noteworthy J Dilla and Alex B covers.
Before strapping on my boots and going to the war of getting from one venue to the next, I walked around Cervantes' a bit to check out some of the outstanding art installations. During Two Fresh's set I noticed fire spinners set up on some of the large performance cubes on the main level. Aimlessly drifting about, I stumbled into artist Patrick Beery, whose chalk drawings are among my favorite pieces of live artwork to watch. He quickly attacks his paintings, making deep strokes with the accuracy and patient fluidity of a skilled calligrapher. It's truly captivating to watch. More wandering brought me to Boulderite Mackenzie Page's setup, whose work seems to be evolving more and more into its true being every time I see it. Drawing inspiration from life and all of its emotions, Page's paintings overflow with powerful colors, subtle nuances and gradation. After a brief chat with both artists, I made my way back into Quixote's for more subsonic carnage.
Running back through the tiny doorway, I caught the tail end of Lorn's set. Another Brainfeeder label mate, Lorn's anything-but-casual music is deep and personal. Riddled with his own vocals and other finely crafted vox work, his sound brought a completely different element to the party. Dark, bitter and full of passion, the alchemistic Lorn cycled through heart-wrenching songs, which felt like stories of endured experiences, while I joined others with my head down and eyes closed, completely surrendering, allowing the music to wash over me.
|Ana Sia :: Re:Convergence 2009|
Realizing the time, I briskly wrapped around the venue wide-eyed as BoomBox's set began to take off. Gazing out towards the stage I watched as guitarist Zion stepped back and forth in place behind the typical boa-adorned mic stand as Russ tucked himself behind his heaping table of electronics. Any audiophile's wet dream, DJ Russ' stockpile of sequencers, controllers, and other toys that go boom spilled out in all directions, surrounding his glowing laptop screen. Once the twosome broke into a jam, the floor came to life, as vibrant as the enormous disco ball that hung high above. I continued to walk around, feeling out the music from different corners of the venue, enjoying my delicious dose of BoomBox, as per usual.
Un-snagging myself from the BB set, I (as politely as possible) pushed past people inconveniently loitering in the doorways, stiff-arming those in my way as if posing for the Heisman trophy. Re-entering Quixote's I was greeted by the music of Ana Sia, which had the subtle discretion of a crystal goblet colliding with a concrete floor. Dulcet tones and deep bass lines immediately snared me as I swung my camera behind my back and got down with those around me. Music simply seeps out of this woman's pores as she pushes the audience further and further, dishing out inconceivable deliciousness for bass fiends losing it on the dance floor. Her Friday set was diverse, straddling the line between intense and delightfully overwhelming as she brought ethnic percussion laced hip hop to the table, letting it ride for a while before seamlessly easing wobbly, fluctuating sub-sine waves into the mix. Keeping an eye on her scene and beaming brightly with every change, she neared the end of her first set of the weekend while Lando Kal and LL of Lazer Sword stealthily began setting up equipment for their set.
Before dropping anchor in Quixote's for the rest of the night, I speedily panned back over to Cervantes' to catch some of Denver native David Seied's set. Having been impressed by his performance at this past year's Sonic Bloom festival, I knew I wanted to get a taste of what he was serving up Friday night. Standing in the back, I watched Seied drop original, strikingly well produced dubstep, tugging fervently at the heartstrings of those in attendance. After Lazer Sword was well underway, I crept back through the doorway to the other side to catch what was happening in the tinier of the two worlds.
|Megasoid :: Re:Convergence 2009|
Grabbing a decent spot at the back of the stage, I snapped some pics of Lazer Sword. Spying on LL and Lando Kal's shuffling Ableton sessions, I followed their every move, shifting in and out of focus with my glass eye. They performed at a faster BPM than most others on Friday, making it good fun to dust off the kicks for one more hard dance before getting down a bit with Megasoid. Various sound effects streamed from eagerly pushed buttons on MPDs as the fellas cut through street-banger a capellas glued to blippy, octave-vibrating electro waves that even Lil' John couldn't deny as 'crunk.'
Hopping up onstage, Speakerbruiser Rob of Megasoid set up his gear, transitioning in quietly behind his Turbo Crunk friends in Lazer Sword, making the summation of their set seamless with the beginning of his. Without skipping a beat, the audience kept grooving to the electronic "kick, clap" pulse of the drums and the high cut-off, chewy bass as Rob called out for all of the stage lights to be turned off. I loved this. With the lights low, people stop focusing so much on the inconsequential - how they're dancing, what they look like, who's around, etc. The only thing left to do with the lights off is close your eyes and let the music move you.
I kept by the front speaker as if rooted to the ground, unable to leave, completely disregarding my exhausted body. After a night of intense performances and bright, flashing lights, the darkness was perfect; it played the lurking, mysterious partner to the sounds coming from the speakers. Absorbing a majority of the set, it was time to get some rest, only to wake up the following day and prepare for the final night of Re:Convergence.
Continue reading for Saturday's coverage...