Earlier this year as festival lineups of 2018 started being announced, fans of Pretty Lights waited patiently to see where Derek Vincent Smith and his band of beat assassins (keyboardist Borahm Lee, drummer Alvin Ford Jr., turntablist Chris Karns, and keyboardist Brandon Butler) would end up. Early into April, there was still no word as to where or when the next Pretty Lights Live show would be. With no festival appearances and no talk of doing another season of the wildly popular Episodic Tour, the Pretty Lights Family’s curiosity was at an all-time high.

On April 17th Pretty Lights announced what would be his first and potentially only shows of 2018, another two-night run at Red Rocks Amphitheater. After opening for Sound Tribe Sector 9 in 2009, Pretty Lights has headlined the prestigious venue every year since–making this year the 10th anniversary. As the first day finally approached and the eight months of waiting to see Pretty Lights again ended, a sold-out crowd made their way to Morrison, CO to celebrate 10 years with one of Colorado’s most innovative artists.

The night was kicked off by friends of Smith, Mux Mool, and Michal Menert and The Pretty Fantastics. Menert himself is having a huge week, from getting married on Wednesday to playing Red Rocks Amphitheater with his life-long friend Derek Vincent Smith only two days later. The love in the air was palpable and never felt more present than when Menert and his band broke out “Summer Love” and shouted out Derek Vincent Smith who was watching his friend perform from the crowd. As the sun set behind the Rocky Mountains and Michal Menert and The Pretty Fantastics left the stage, the sold-out crowd found themselves in a frenzy.

Once the stage was clear, the work lights were turned off and the stage production came alive. Blue light emitted from the large LED on center stage along with LED towers on the ground as well as several floating LED towers that haven’t been seen in a Pretty Lights show until 2015. Borahm Lee, Alvin Ford Jr., Chris Karns and Brandon Butler all took the stage as the last song on Pretty Lights’ debut album Taking Up Your Precious Time, “Try To Remember”. That song, like many from Smith’s first album, was co-produced with Michal Menert making it all the more fitting as Menert and Smith walked out and took the stage together to the joyous screams of 10,000 fans. As Menert exited the stage once again, Pretty Lights Live kept things from the early era and dove into a hip-hop heavy Wrong Platform where Chris Karns got to demonstrate his World-Championship winning abilities on the turntables. In signature Pretty Lights Live style, the remaining members of the band began to improvise and Flip the track giving it new life. Following this, the band strolled straight into a seldom-heard song off the most recent and Grammy-nominated Pretty Lights album, “Press Pause” which was also flipped to absolute perfection by Smith and his band. The remainder of the evening saw Smith play an incredible discography-spanning set, pulling tracks form eight of his studio albums and EPs, most of which received the flip treatment for a night that never seemed to stop jamming.

Other notable stand-out tracks included “I Can See It In Your Face”, “Solar Sailor (Remix)”, “How We Do”, “Looking For Love (But Not So Sure)”. As the night drew to a close, Pretty Lights Live fired off arguably the most popular Pretty Lights song, “Finally Moving” in which Derek Vincent Smith had the whole crowd in the palm of his hands chanting back the crowd-pleasing chorus: “Oh sometimes, I get a good feeling, yeah. I get a feeling that I never never never had before, oh no, I get a good feeling yeah.” Pretty Lights Live picked the tempo back up, playing the energetically-charged “Total Fascination”, following it up with one of the night’s deepest and darkest flips, “Hot Like Sauce”. Smith took the mic and told the crowd that he had only one song left to play, a song that “pulls from the past, present and maybe even the future too”. He was referring to his remix of “Shakedown Street” by the Grateful Dead which hadn’t been played since All Good Music Festival in 2013. With this assistance of Greg “The Lazershark” Ellis, the stage was flooded in a rainbow of lasers as Pretty Lights Live took the Dead classic and gave it the modern Pretty Lights treatment, bringing the past and present together for one non-stop nine-minute dance party. As Smith thanked the crowd and wished them goodnight, all that could be heard was the sounds of thousands of screaming fans eager to see what the next day had in store.

Setlist: Pretty Lights Live | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/10/18

Try To Remember (w/ Michal Menert), Wrong Platform > Remix > Flip, Press Pause > Flip, Let The World Hurry By > Flip, Shining Bright Despite The Plight > Flip, I Can See It In Your Face, Make You Feel > Flip, Drift Away (Superstition – Stevie Wonder sample), Solar Sailor (Remix) > Flip, So Bright > Flip, How We Do > Flip, Yellow Bird, Always All Ways > Supervision Remix > Flip, Looking For Love (But Not So Sure) > Flip, Lost & Found (Odesza Remix) > Flip, Finally Moving > Remix, Understand Me Now > Flip, Total Fascination > Flip, Improv Jam, Hot Like Sauce > Rustified Remix, Shakedown Street Remix

Picking up from where night one ended, Pretty Lights Live got Red Rocks Amphitheater in an uproar from the first song and didn’t look back. Opening with the rare and highly sought-after Dinoysus, Smith took control over an already electric crowd and set the tone for what was to come. Still having an arsenal of weapons to choose from, Pretty Lights Live continued to drop music from most of their studio work over the last 12 years of Derek Vincent Smith’s career. After playing a truly unforgettable “Out Of Time” with a sampled violin section from when Pretty Lights performed with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra at Red Rocks in 2014, Smith and company performed several songs in a row from his first two studio albums before flying into the latest Pretty Lights single, “Rainbows and Waterfalls”. Whether performing old or new material, the band seamlessly transitioned from pre-recorded works into the improvised flips in which each member was able to showcase their undeniable abilities.

Since 2016, the goal for Smith has been to blend together the two worlds of recorded electronic music and live instrumentation. Watching the band grow together for the last few years, it was truly remarkable to see just how far this music project had really come. Every single member of the band (including the lighting designer Greg Ellis) was on the same wavelength allowing music and light to live harmoniously under a perfect Colorado evening. With no news of when the next Pretty Lights show will be, both Pretty Lights Live and the attendees seemed to be treating the night with the intention of leaving nothing behind. All around, all that could be seen were groups of friends smiling and wiggling underneath a starry night overcast with lasers.

Emotions were running high throughout the evening, but never did it feel more so as when Pretty Lights Live began to play “The Time Has Come”. Before diving into this song, Smith took a moment to get on the mic and make an announcement, “We’ve played this song many times over the years. But somehow right now here in this moment, it seems like what I’m trying to express with ya’ll. Let’s all work together to manifest a moment here in time at Red Rocks.” From there, the band took it away as Greg Ellis drowned the 10,000 fans in a sea of purple and green lights. On stage, you could visibly see each member of the band bobbing around having just as much fun as those in the crowd. Throughout the years, Smith has created music that taps into a deeper level of human emotion ranging from both sadness and uncertainty to absolute joy and love.

A major moment of the evening was when Smith invited his younger brother and fellow producer (Motifv) following another emotional Pretty Lights classic, “We Must Go On”. Upon inviting up his brother, Smith told the crowd: “For real, this music is directly linked to my heart and I think you’ll feel that.” Watching the two Smith brothers dance on stage together was a sight to behold. You could see the smile on Derek’s face from 30 rows back. Derek left the stage temporarily and left his brother at the helm with the band as they played one of Motfiv’s singles “Insufficient Lighting” off his forthcoming EP, The Path. While the future is unknown for Pretty Lights, it was certainly nice to know that there is another Smith capable of making thought provoking and beautiful music, maybe it’s genetic. The two shared the stage together for the next 15 minutes before Motifv exited, leaving Derek back with the band with just under an hour to play.

Pretty Lights Live continued to dazzle in both track selection and execution. The band danced around and pulled material from the first Pretty Lights album, Taking Up Your Precious Time, including the fan-favorites “Samso” and “Last Passenger”, performed consecutively. For longtime fans of Pretty Lights, they know how rarely these songs see the light of day and were sure to enjoy every second of them. As the night began to wind down, emotions were running rampant, and Smith elevated that to the next level with the heart wrenching, “Cold Feeling”. During the chorus “the time for us is now”, Greg Ellis lit the audience in a cascade of blue light, illuminating every corner of Red Rocks Amphitheater.

Before leading into an all-time Pretty Lights classic, Smith and the band created magic on stage at Red Rocks. From using every single instrument and member, Pretty Lights Live created a song from scratch. It was deep and dark in nature, full of low end notes that led to a perfect transition into “I Know The Truth”. Once again, the band had hands in the air bouncing and people wiggling all over the rocks as Greg Ellis painted a portrait over the masses. When at long last the 2 hour and 45 minute set came to an end, Pretty Lights Live closed out with one of the first singles since it’s creation in 2016, “The Sun Spreads In Our Minds”.

The song really encapsulated the theme of the weekend and Pretty Lights in general. “Human energy is a form of light. Our souls are connected by unbreakable wires. We must learn this truth in order to be healed.” The light omitted from the attendees reflected that of the lights shown from the stage as thousands made the transition from living in the dark to shining bright. As the band wound down, Derek took to the mic one last time and thanked his team, his band, all his openers from the last two evenings. “Thank you so much for sharing the love and vibrating like ya’ll do, it’s incredible…So much more to come Red Rocks, from the center of my heart, I thank you so much for sharing the love that you do and representing one at a time. It’s been an honor to grow together.”

From all over the United States, fans traveled to see this momentous Pretty Lights show. Some drove for over 24 hours, others braved airline debacles, but for all of those that made it, the journey was well worth it. Pretty Lights Live was truly on a level that they have not yet been on. While there is still no news of new shows, this band showed no signs of slowing down and performed as smoothly as they ever have. This weekend’s shows were wrapped in such mystery and uncertainty, and coming out on the other side it was clear that Smith truly understands his fans and makes music that deeply touches both himself and unites his community of faithful followers. Until then, fans are left with two wonderfully perfect shows at the world’s most beautiful venue and memories that will never die.

Setlist: Pretty Lights Live | Red Rocks Amphitheatre | Morrison, CO | 8/11/18

Dionysus, Is There Any Love > Flip, Out Of Time > Flip, Almost Familiar > Flip, At Last I Am Free > Flip, Double Love > Flip, Rainbows and Waterfalls > Flip, Look Both Ways > Flip, One Day They’ll Know (Odesza Remix), The Time Has Come, Wiggle (Jason Derulo Remix), We Must Go On, Insufficient Lighting > Flip, Jewels (Illuminati Congo w/ Motifv), Jam, The Love You Left Behind > Dark As The Sky, Samso > Flip, The Last Passenger > Flip, Cold Feeling (Remix), Analog Jam, I Know The Truth, All I’ve Ever Known > Flip, The Sun Spreads in Our Minds.