This past Saturday, February 28th, saw The New Deal bring their unique brand of live band improvisational electronica to the Ogden Theatre in Denver, CO. With some help from their friends DJ Duo Need + Necessity and Eugene Cho of Escort (performing a DJ Set), they had no problem throwing down a high energy dance party that left all in attendance sweaty and satisfied.

Need + Necessity, the DJ Duo of Ross Kiser and Matt Friedman, kicked things off with some low-key, ambient House music. Employing a type of Tag-Team approach to their rig, they did a great job of setting the mood for the evening. Perfect for meeting up with old friends, but not attention grabbing enough to steal the show. Eugene Cho, co-founder and keyboardist for Chicago-Based Disco group Escort, was waiting in the wings as Need + Necessity wrapped up their opening set. As a live band, Escort is something of a force to be reckoned with; great vocals from three very talented women fronting the group (as well as playing guitars and bass), catchy tunes that drive you to dance, and an almost addictive beat throbbing just beneath the surface.

The New Deal finally took the stage, as the crowd was well-warmed and anxious to get grooving. The New Deal are perpetrators of big, heavy, ambitious electronica jams that weave in and out of many different styles. The opening song showcased their wide range of influences, as well as their finely-honed skills. After the roaring 30+ minute jam came to a close, keyboardist Jamie Shields jumped on the mic to assure us, enthusiastically, that “when the first song is over 30 mintues, you know we’re going to have a good night.”

It’s always a treat to see a band having as much fun playing for you as you’re having dancing to them, and in those situations the music is almost always a mirror for that enjoyment. TND smeared themselves across that stage for us, giving their all and pushing their limits over and over again. The first set lasted just over one hour with only two breaks in the music, while the band fired on all cylinders the entire time.

Second set saw more of the same inspired, genre-bending improvisation as the band tore through the first 40-minutes of uninterrupted, professionally manufactured, dance-party jams. Their improvisational style falls somewhere in-between the free-form Drum and Bass constructs that EOTO showcased in their early years and the guitar-centric, 90s house stylings for which Lotus has come to be known.

Jamie, drummer Joel Stouffer, and bassist Dan Kurtz are capable of making tight, structured changes seemingly on a dime, blending elements of funk, progressive rock, and jazz fusion over an ever-changing-yet-eminently-danceable framework. Their stage show features a simple but effective minimalist lighting rig, leaving the musicians themselves to fill the visual field of the stage with their animated personalities. While many live-band electronica outfits rely on twice as many musicians to flesh out the sound, the powerhouse trio that is the New Deal manages to fill the room with little to no effort. After another hour of music, Dan, Jamie, and Joel left the stage briefly before treating us to a high-energy encore that sent most of us out into the night with an incurable grin on our faces.

I could not be happier to have The New Deal back in action, and after Saturday night’s show I can assure anyone who has yet to see tND 2.0 that they are everything they were, if not more. In a genre that is too-often dominated by Laptop DJs, it continues to be incredibly refreshing to see three genuinely talented musicians applying their talents to the art of curating imminently danceable beats and grooves.

-Written by Max Filter