The rain that caused serious damage to much of the front range of the Rockies lingered for the most part throughout last weekend, but it did not damper the spirits of those who attended Denver’s Great American Techno Festival. With what was arguably the festival’s strongest line-up yet, GATF brought some American-techno-focused programming to three Denver venues.
The opening party at Skyline Park went off smoothly after a scare of bad weather, but the skies cleared and the typically laid-back vibe that permeates throughout Denver was quite present. Music was on-point all day from the jump, with strong local support leading into Lusine’s headlining live set (pictured above). He genre-hopped from IDM to more structured 4/4 and back, keeping his melodic spin on everything throughout and smiles on everyone’s faces. The free, daytime party was certainly a highlight of the weekend.
We didn’t make it to the Friday-night showcase at Beta’s lounge featuring Hyperactive, but by all accounts it went well. Norad Dance Bar had a packed house, with an off-festival act, Destructo, on the main floor and a GATF showcase featuring Brendon Moeller and Kyle Geiger upstairs. Moeller played a fantastic live hardware set drenched in acid lines and dub washes while Geiger played a relentless, pounding set of some fairly serious techno. Props to local Alala.One for warming the room up nicely with her tasteful selection and tight mixing.
Saturday saw the rain come back and remain for the weekend. Advanced workshops midday were taught by Moe Espinosa (aka Drumcell) and Kyle Geiger on Traktor and Ableton, respectively. Moving into the night, Jeff Mills open-to-close performance on the main floor of Beta was a rare and highly anticipated treat. He calmly worked through his hits and beyond, keeping a ribcage-rattling hypnosis over the room, crafting a narrative through the club’s Funktion One rig. Mills’ steady vision and truly minimal approach proved a very special set from the living legend. To really hammer the techno home for the night, Los Angeles’ Droid Behavior crew threw an Interface after-party for the second year in a row at GATF. They broke in a gorgeous, virgin North Denver warehouse venue, creating a stunning visual display and pummeling the 300-plus in attendance well into the morning hours.
The rain all day Sunday unfortunately pushed patio performances indoors, but it did not stop everyone on the bill from throwing down great sets. After Saturday’s harder onslaught, attendees welcomed the deeper sounds with open arms. Highlights included Bruno Pronsato’s always stellar live act, groovy deep techno sets from Ctrl_Alt_Dlt and Insideout, two hours of deepness from Fred P, and a closing live set from local hero Hipp-e of H Foundation fame.
The intimate festival was a success yet again, but not without its growing pains. A few shows suffered from technical mishaps, and it would be nice to see some different venues used next year. The weather sadly was the biggest pain of all, as both Coloradans and out-of-towners enjoy Denver for the almost omnipresent summer sunshine and blue skies. Without question, it had an effect on Sunday’s turnout for the closing showcase and impacted some programming logistics throughout the day. All in all, the jovial atmosphere of all the events, fantastic music throughout the weekend, and the tireless efforts by staff assured another successful weekend for Great American Techno.
Photo by Jeremy Mickelsen