The Guy in the White Coat
The annual SIA afterparty took place last Saturday night at City Hall in Denver. SIA is the largest ski industry convention in the world and every year they host Snowdown, a concert to celebrate the convention's success. This year, organizers brought in Baauer to headline the event, with support from Machine Gun Kelly and Just Blaze, the legendary producer who created beats for Eminem's Recovery album and numerous Jay-Z albums.
While I had never attended a show at City Hall, I was quite impressed with the City Hall's setup. It included 3 stories of standing areas and numerous bars and smaller stages scattered throughout the venue. The third floor was reserved for media and VIP only. On the floor, there were two centralized boxes that quickly filled up with people looking for an elevated view.
The addition of Machine Gun Kelly to the lineup created a very strange and violent dynamic in the crowd. MGK continually asked the crowd to mosh more, and inebriated concert-goers who solely attended for MGK's set wandered through the crowd attempting to start fights. At one point, Machine Gun Kelly climbed onto the second floor and dove into the crowd, an act that simply increased the violent tendencies of the crowd. After his set, the crowd began to settle down and Just Blaze came on with a mash up of several hip-hop classics that engulfed the audience with a need to dance instead of rage. However, about 15 minutes into his set, the music mysteriously stopped and an organizer made his way to the stage to announce that the room was too full and the fire marshall would not allow the show to continue unless some people moved to the connected bar that was nearly empty. During the break, the divide in the crowd became evident as numerous fights broke out and and chants of Baauer were countered by MGK chants. This break lasted several minutes, and when Just Blaze resumed his set, the music was drastically quieter, presumably under the order of the fire marshall.
Just Blaze left his own signature on current hits such as Clique and Mercy along with some classics like Get 'em High. He even escaped the hip-hop genre towards some electro hits on occasion, usually to a raucous reaction from the crowd. This was especially evident during the Flosstradamus trap classic, Original Don. His collaboration with Baauer, the recently released Higher, made the crowd roar with energy.
Baauer finally made his way to the stage to the delight of the crowd. Many people, myself included, would have left hours ago, yet the draw of Baauer dragged them through the violence and mismanagement. And he did not disappoint, playing a nearly flawless mix of his trap classics and newer tracks, including Higher for the second time in the night. Harlem Shake was received graciously as the crowd united in a euphoric roar before getting down and dirty with the drop. His mix of Flosstadamus' Underground Anthem and his own Roll Up the Grass indeed went over smoothly, and people across the room could be seen singing the lyrics in unison, as they did once again with the playing of RL Grime's hit remix of Benny Benassi's classic, Satisfaction.
Baauer sampling Nas The World is Yours.
Baauer deviating from trap with Major Lazer's Jah No Partial.
However, once again, poor pre-event organizing struck for the final time, and Baauer was forced to exit the stage at 1:30, a full half hour before the announced ending time. This drew a very negative reaction and a chorus of boos from the crowd that was thoroughly enjoying Baauer's filthy set. Many people stuck around for several minutes hoping for an encore that Baauer clearly wanted to play, but management quickly made their way to the mic and kicked everyone out of the venue. Baauer and Just Blaze's excellent sets, coupled with the impressive venue layout certainly indicated that a better-organized event would have blown everyone away, yet the lack of preparation made for a very mediocre night. I strongly urge City Hall management not to expect the crowd to self-distribute themselves equally throughout the venue (not just on the GA floor) when bringing such refined producers to spin. I truly hope to return to such an amazing venue in the future and see a vast improvement in the planning and execution of such a big event.
Dylan Sondermann & Wilder Kingsley for Only The Beat