PHOTOS // Levitate Festival w/ Rusko, DJ Shadow, Paper Diamond @ 1st Bank Center 4/20/12

It’s been one year since Alex Botwin (Paper Diamond, Elm & Oak) produced the first annual Levitate Festival at the Boulder Theater.  There was great music and a modest showing, but it was still one of many, many shows happening on 4/20 and couldn’t claim to be more succesful than any others.

What a huge leap to bring it to the 1st Bank Center this year, enlisting the help of RuskoDJ Shadow and Pictureplane to take Levitate even higher and claim a huge success in the name of Elm & Oak and AEG Live.

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Walking inside the 1st Bank Center was a funny scene.  We were greeted by a thick plume of dankness and frantic fans scurrying around the concourse, trying in vain to mobilize their groups out of a half-stoned stupor.The stage was a different scene entirely, where everyone was on the same level.  We arrived in time to catch Paper Diamond effectively warming up the crowd, where the music brought them them out of stress and into their bodies and into the moment.

It was natural for Paper Diamond to kill it at his own festival, but he delievered as strongly as anyone else.  Whether you were standing in the back twirling glow sticks or going apeshit right at the front, the music hit you right in the center of your chest.  But beyond all the pounding bass, there’s a strong emotion that touches your core, something that re-fueled us after blazing in the sun all day almost had us giving up hope.  Paper Diamond certainly brought the heat through his ever-improving sets, demonstrating the commitment he has made to this Levitated vision.  After seeing his set at the show, we completely understood what Diplo/Mad Decent’s Jeffree’s Label saw in PD when deciding to release his next EP in May.

You don’t really know what to expect from DJ Shadow these days . He is a pioneer of instrumental hip-hop, but lately its clear he’s been trying to integrate himself into EDM.  The crowd as a whole didn’t seem to know what to expect, most of them being too young to have ever heard of DJ Shadow in the first place.

Shit got real as Shadow initialized the escape pod, a white globe that was transformed by light projections and his deep head-nodding vibe.  Combining his heavy roots in hip-hop and scratching with his recent dive into the sea of electronic music, Shadow brought an auditory and visually arousing performance that kept us Levitated throughout the set.  And of course, dropping “Building Steam With a Grain of Salt” got everyone at the festival – both young and old – lifted and grounded by our roots.

Rusko re-vamped his old vibe into a much bass-heavier set, which combined with hard-hitting, high-pitched synths to produce a pretty high-energy set.  Alongside his screams into the microphone – did anyone understand what he was saying? – and traditional mixing, came a surprisingly stoked crowd (though there were also many fans disappointed by his lack of dropping some of the heaters from his new album, as well as repetition throughout his set).  Overall, though, the performance kept the party going to complete a high-ly successful night.

Mad love to Elm & Oak and AEG Live on throwing a great 4/20 event… UFO can’t wait to get Levitated in 2013!!

Check out UFO’s Photos from Levitate Festival here:


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