Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom was once again the place to be on Saturday night, as some of Denver’s finest musicians teamed up with Marc Brownstein, Aron Magner, and Allen Aucoin of The Disco Biscuits, Mike Greenfield of Lotus, Cory Wong and Antwaun Stanley of Vulfpeck, and Jeff Franca of Thievery Corporation for a night of musical time travel known as the Dance Party Time Machine. With so much talent packed onto one stage and the DPTM’s reputation for a no-holds-barred approach to song selection, the sold-out Cervantes’ crowd was treated to a truly unique and insanely fun musical experience.
To kick things off, one Denver’s most soulful voices, SuCH, took the helm of the time machine and started the party with Ray Charles’ “Shake A Tail Feather”, Jacksons 5’s “I Want You Back”, and Marvin Gaye’s classic “Got To Give It Up”. By this point, it was obvious this isn’t your average super jam. On top of starting the show with such heavy-hitting covers, waves of musicians washed on and off the stage after almost every song. We weren’t even 30 minutes into the show and members of Thievery Corporation, Lotus, and Vulfpeck along with local favorites from Analog Son, Fox Street, and Tiger Party had hit the stage.
The level of talent on the show was already ridiculous, and up to that point, nobody shined brighter than Cory Wong of Vulfpeck. Cory’s electric right hand brings a vibrant rhythmic style that is taylormade for the 70’s funk classics the band kept busting out. Cory’s Vulfpeck brethren, Antwaun Stanley, also showed off what he brings to that genre with a dazzling rendition of The Brothers Johnson’s “Strawberry Letter 23”. With Aron Magner and Allen Aucoin jumping on stage, the tune would also be our first taste of members of The Disco Biscuits collaborating with Antwaun and Cory, something the crowd was extremely interested in seeing unfold.
As the Time Machine kept hurdling through musical time and space, the shackles of genre-appropriate jamming were tossed off. From Rick James’ “Mary Jane” to Steely Dan’s “Peg”, it was obvious that nothing was out of bounds, and song by song, the music brought out exuberant delight from the audience at nearly every turn. Songs started jamming out of other songs like The Commodore’s “Machine Gun” seamlessly segueing into “Also Sprach Zarustrasta” (also known as “2001”) then back into “Machine Gun”.
It was impossible to guess what was coming next, and at this point, it was time for Brownstein and Magner to get fully in the mix. Mr. Magner would do so in a way nobody has seen before, teaming up with good friend Blake Mobley of Tiger Party for a feel-good rendition of “Dancing In The Streets”. With Aron being the Mick Jagger to Blake’s David Bowie, the two paid tribute to the iconically hilarious 80’s music video. While the duo didn’t quite capture the magnitude of sexual tension aroused in the video, they delivered a show-stopping performance—one that many wouldn’t expect when they hear the words “Front Man Magner.”
“Dancing In The Streets”
[Video: Brad Keeton]
After the Dance Party Time Machine shifted into 80’s dance-party mode, the first set closed out with some of the biggest jams of the night. Prince’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby” brought the house down before Tiger Party’s Ashley Niven led the band in a raucous version of “Life During Wartime” by The Talking Heads. During the latter, lighting director for the show, Andy Cass of C2 Design blasted Cervantes’ giant disco ball with lights, kicking the crowd into a frenzy. These last few songs of the first set truly showed what a powerhouse of a band we had on our hands and exactly how high things could go with so much talent in one place.
Second set wasted absolutely no time bringing back the energy of the first, as the dynamic duo of Jeff Prah and Adam Lufkin kicked the door down with a tune no one saw coming—to say that rowdy, set-opening rendition Lil John’s “Get Low” had jaws on the ground would be an understatement. From the windows to the walls, heads and asses across the dance floor were shaking, and we were off to the races for what was another ridiculous set of music. The pair took control of the time machine and steered the crowd through a gamut of great 90’s hip-hop and R&B classics highlighted by Mlima’s Jessica Jones on “Doo Wop (That Thing)”. Jessica, along with the help of backing vocalists, Francine Scarborough and Colleen Christmas had the entire room dripping in 90’s soul.
In my opinion, what makes Dance Party Time Machine so fun is that you get to see these insanely talented musicians playing and singing on songs you would never hear them do with their regular bands. These shows deliver on some of the guiltiest of pleasures and when Antwaun and the band dropped into Mariah Carey’s “Always Be My Baby”, things descended into a cheesy goodness that had even the most jaded, bearded jam band fans “doo bee dooping” along with all the ladies in the crowd.
With all the headliners back on stage and the bar being set so high by Mariah Carey, the show delivered on the promise laid out with so many badass musicians on the bill. Contemporary hits like LCD Soundsystem’s “Dance Yourself Clean”, Cut Copy’s “Hearts on Fire”, and Chance The Rapper’s “All Night” brought on some serious jams led by The Biscuits Marc, Aron, and Allen—the latter being the hardest hitting and four-to-the-flooriest jam of the night. After two monster 80’s classics, Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go For That” and New Order’s “Blue Monday”, Cory and Antwaun rejoined the group and closed the set out with a stirring versions of Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” and Morris Day and The Time’s “Jungle Love”. “Jungle Love” in particular brought the heat featuring some insane trading off between guitarist and the show’s musical director, Jordan Linit (Analog Son), and Cory Wong.
Once again, the collaboration of the full Disco-Lotus-Corporation-Peck (which was sometimes joined by Jeremy Salken of Big Gigantic, as if this lineup needed surprise guests) teamed up with the fiercest players Denver had to offer, bringing the Dance Party Time Machine to a ridiculous crescendo by ending the night with the maniacally laughs of Marc Brownstein at the end of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.
Setlist: Dance Party Time Machine | Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom | Denver, CO | 3/24/2018
Set One: Shake A Tail Feather, I Want You Back (Jackson 5), Got To Give It Up (Marvin Gaye), Strawberry Letter 23 (Brothers Johnson), Fantasic Voyage (Lakeside/Coolio), Mary Jane (Rick James), Every 1’s A Winner (Hot Chocolate), Machine Gun (The Commodores), Peg (Steely Dan), Dancing In the Streets (David Bowie/Mick Jagger), I Wanna Be Your Lover (Prince), Don’t You Want Me Baby (Human League), Life During Wartime (Talking Heads)
Set Two: Get Low (Lil John), Country Grammar>Ride Wit Me (Nelly), Doo Wop [That Thing] (Lauren Hill), Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down (Puff Daddy w/ Mase), Return of The Mack (Mark Morrison), Always Be My Baby (Mariah Carey), Dance Yourself Clean (LCD Soundsystem), All Night (Chance The Rapper), Hearts on Fire (Cut Copy), I Can’t Go For That (Hall and Oates), Blue Monday (New Order), I Wish (Stevie Wonder), Jungle Love (The Time)
Encore: Thriller (Michael Jackson)