There was definitely no shortage of options to see live music Friday night in Denver, but there was one place in particular that boasted a lineup so huge the event had to top the lists of everyone seeking the best weekend dance party. The Ogden Theater was the place to be Friday night, and as many people made their way there as the sold out venue would allow. People packed the Ogden Theater to the brim once more so they could dance the night away to fresh retro influenced music.
Sammy Bananas was up first and he did his duty to kick off the night and get people warmed up on the dance floor. He took his spot behind two turntables and a mixer and began dropping one smooth retro groove after the other. He played the situation perfectly, bringing back the swagger of '80s disco-house and early '90s dance-pop. His set featured an impressive mix of vintage dance tracks, but also brand new tracks with a throwback sound, and it didn't take long before Sammy Bananas got the dance floor packed and the people raging.
He started his set with an '80s club classic, New Edition's "Once In a Lifetime Groove", taking everyone back and setting the tone. He dropped other vintage gems like Grace Jones' "Pull Up To The Bumper", World Premiere's "Share the Night" and Central Line's "Walking Into Sunshine". Sammy Bananas' signature style includes a lot of '90s R&B and new jack swing influenced dance tracks, and he made sure to include songs like Jade's "Don't Walk Away" and Mark Morrison's "Return of the Mack" blended with disco-house beats for good measure.
|Sammy Bananas getting saxy|
He didn't keep it all old school. Sammy Bananas treated the crowd to new music with such an authentic throwback sound, it never sounded out of place. He smoothly blended in nu-disco tracks like Poolside's "Do You Believe?", Tensnake's "Need Your Lovin'" and Kutcorners' "Diamond". Sammy Bananas even treated the crowd to some of his '80s disco meets '90s R&B styled original music that hadn't even been released yet. He closed his set with another modern track, Tiger & Woods' "Don't Hesitate", which he enhanced with a saxophone solo played by Sammy Bananas himself. If you like retro styled disco-house, check out Sammy Bananas' music and definitely make sure you see him live, but don't forget your dancing shoes.
|Mayer Hawthorne & The County|
Mayer Hawthorne & The County were up next, and they treated the audience to music influenced by a sound from even further back in time. Mayer Hawthorne is a modern soul singer that brings back the spirit of classic '70s soul - think of the style of Motown greats. With the help of a four-piece band called The County, Mayer Hawthorne brought soothing, sexy and danceable soul to the Ogden Theater crowd and ignited an extra spark to all the couples in the room. Mayer Hawthorne & The County performed their set with such class, charm and authenticity, one could close their eyes and feel like they were in another era.
Mayer Hawthorne & The County treated the Ogden Theater crowd to a wide selection of material from every corner of Mayer Hawthorne's catalog. They started with "Maybe So, Maybe No" off of Mayer Hawthorne's debut album, A Strange Arrangement before blending into a bit of "Gangsta Luv" from the vinyl only Stones Throw Direct to Disc #1. They followed that with two more debut album tracks, "Make Her Mine" and "Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin'", before delving into "The Walk" from Mayer Hawthorne's new album, How Do You Do. Much like they did with the first song of the set, Mayer Hawthorne & The County blended together two of my favorite tracks from A Strange Arrangement, "Shiny & New" and "I Wish It Would Rain".
Mayer Hawthorne & The County didn't keep it strictly to slower love jams. They got the people on the dance floor moving like crazy when Mayer Hawthorne & The County played a live version of SebastiAn's funky disco dance-pop song, "Love In Motion". They treated the crowd to two more new songs, "No Strings" and "Dreaming" before bringing out the song that started it all for Mayer Hawthorne, his very first release, "Just Ain't Gonna Work Out". Not ones to leave the crowd with a break-up song, Mayer Hawthorne & The County finished with the new song "A Long Time" and transitioned into "The Ills", reminding everyone that downers happen, but you have to get back up.
|Mayer Hawthorne & The County|
Mayer Hawthorne & The County was a joy to watch. Not only did they deliver contemporary songs delivered in a classic soul fashion, Mayer Hawthorne did well to keep the audience engaged from song to song. He kept a great pace, telling stories between songs only when the time was right. He charmingly kept the night going, getting the crowd to sing along and even teaching Denver a new dance. If you go see a Mayer Hawthorne show, it won't be just the incredible music you'll remember, but the experience as a whole. Don't miss him if you get the chance to see him.
Finally, it was time for the highly anticipated headlining set from Chromeo. Before Chromeo took the stage, the Ogden Theater house lights went out as a roar erupted from the crowd. Chromeo's theme song started blasting from the speakers as the crowd sang in chorus, "Chro-me-o! Ohhh! Oh!" Soon, Dave 1 and P-Thugg were on stage behind their signature lady-legs keyboards; Dave 1 in a fresh gray suit, P-Thugg wearing a throwback logo Denver Nuggets hat. They were backed by an impressive lighting display - a neon Chromeo logo sign hung right above center stage and six panels covered in large bright lights hung on the back wall. Just being able to finally see Chromeo in all their glory made the crowd go crazy, even before Chromeo started their first song.
|Dave 1 of Chromeo|
Chromeo knew exactly how to get the party started, getting the whole crowd to show off their 2-step by performing "Fancy Footwork". From there it was a full throttle dance party, as Chromeo continued to play one hit after another from their albums Business Casual and Fancy Footwork. Chromeo had incredible stage presence; the crowd exploded with excitement every time Dave 1 came to the edge of the stage to tear into a guitar solo or point the microphone at the crowd to get the audience to sing along.
|P-Thugg of Chromeo|
It seemed Chromeo was having as much fun as the crowd, and they took the time to thank the audience for joining them Friday night. Dave 1 told the crowd he realized there was a lot going on in Denver that night, but everyone in the crowd chose to be at the Ogden Theater. For that, he called the crowd 'gangsta' as Chromeo tore into one of their early She's In Control hits, "You're So Gangsta" - the crowd went absolutely wild. Chromeo ended their regular set with "Night By Night", but everyone was still having so much fun Chromeo could barely leave the stage before they were being called back for more.
The crowd chanted "Chro-me-o! Ohhh! Oh!" over and over as loudly as they could until Dave 1 and P-Thugg returned to the stage for an encore. Chromeo came back and performed three more songs to the dance-hungry crowd but even that wasn't enough to satisfy Denver's appetite. The crowd chanted for Chromeo to return again and the duo returned for one final, bittersweet song. To pay respect to the tragic loss of their dear friend and acclaimed producer DJ Mehdi, Chromeo celebrated his existence with one final song. For the second encore, they performed DJ Mehdi's single "I Am Somebody", getting the whole crowd to sing along in remembrance - a truly beautiful capping moment.
This was my third Chromeo show in about a year, and it was just as fun (if not more so) than the first time I saw them. Chromeo knows how to conduct a full blown dance party, and their infectious retro disco meets modern synthpop sound consistently commands crowds to get crazy on the dance floor. If you haven't yet seen Chromeo and you're a fan of dance music, you better not miss them the next time they come around. But don't hesitate, because just like it was for Friday's show, tickets will surely sell out.
See more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Like the Concerted Effort page and stay up to date!