Zeds Dead at the Deadbeats Stage

The Bass Capital’s favorite Fourth of July tradition just returned for its fourth year! Deadbeats Backyard Jamboree, hosted by Zeds Dead, brought an impressive roster of artists to Civic Center Park to celebrate Independence Day. 

Zeds Dead is the Canadian duo of Dylan Mamid and Zachary Rapp-Rovan, better known as DC and Hooks, respectively. The duo performed an impressive five sets in three days in Denver. Their run included two nights at Red Rocks, one set at Jamboree, and two sets at Mission Ballroom. The Jamboree, with its three stages and 25-artist lineup, was undoubtedly the biggest undertaking in the series.

And what better way is there to celebrate the Fourth than a multi-stage music festival on Capitol Hill? Denver fans turned out in droves to this 12k capacity event, ready to celebrate with hot dogs and heavy dubstep.

Graffiti Mural at Jamboree
Graffiti Mural at Deadbeats Backyard Jamboree

Altered States Stage

Similar to previous years, the 2024 Jamboree was divided into three stages each featuring an aspect of Zeds Dead’s repertoire. The Altered States stage is the smallest, representing the sounds of Zeds Dead’s secondary imprint of the same name. 

Altered States was established in 2021 when Zeds Dead announced they wanted to explore a new sound, “one of dreams and other Altered States of consciousness.” While many view Altered States as the downtempo alternative to the Deadbeats label, that was not the case this year at Jamboree. Instead, this stage featured club music in many forms: house, techno, garage and other upbeat varieties. 

One standout set on this stage was rising house and UKG producer Keenan Mathias. Mathias debuted on the Altered States label in 2023 with his breakbeat belter, “Hit & Run.” At Jamboree, he delivered club cuts in a similar vein to a modest but enthusiastic crowd.  

Later in the evening, Justin Jay headlined the Altered States stage. He headed over following his B2B set with Levity, ready to bring the party. Justin Jay dropped straight into the latest and greatest dance singles like Disclosure’s “She’s Gone, Dance On” and Champion’s “Hot in Here.”

Other artists on this stage included Starya, Noises, and Suray Sertin — all perfectly suited to represent the dancier side of Altered States.

Deadbeats x DNBNL Stage

Across the lawn from the Altered States stage stood the Deadbeats x DNBNL stage, nestled in the grand Greek Amphitheatre. This stage was dedicated to one genre only: drum and bass. 

While Zeds Dead primarily deals in dubstep, they have long been committed to the cause of promoting drum and bass. Over the ten years of Deadrocks, they have featured giants of the genre like Chase & Status, Dimension, Hybrid Minds, and Noisia. At the start of 2024, their label collaborated with Brownies & Lemonade to release the Deadbeats & Brownies: Drum & Bass Compilation.

That album featured tracks from DNMO and Ghost In Real Life, both of whom took the stage at Jamboree. In addition, Bou appeared again following his direct support slot at Dead Rocks. Along with his MC B Live 247, Bou shelled hyper tracks like “Nan Slapper” and “F*ck Jump Up.” For an afternoon slot, it was impressive how enthusiastically the crowd shouted the words to these tracks.

Next up, another British producer took the stage. Turno served as his own MC, hyping up the crowd on his mic along to tracks like “Rave Out.” 

Then, two OGs of their respective genres came together for a powerful B2B. Downlink, the Canadian dubstep producer and early Excision collaborator, paired up with Diselboy, one of the most well-known names in American drum and bass. Their B2B was a full-on cinematic experience, driven by visuals from classic films like Apocalypse Now and Clockwork Orange.

Downlink and Diselboy had the phrase “Blood. Sweat. Drum & Bass.” plastered on the screen behind them. These words felt like a perfect summary of the DNBNL stage. Despite the blistering sun, fans brought their full energy, dancing at tempos upward of 170 BPM all day long. 

Deadbeats Stage

Laid across the lawn of the City Hall building was the main stage. This stage was home not only to a diverse array of Deadbeats artists but also the Jamboree’s most important tradition: the hot dog eating contest. Part running gag and part earnest tribute to American culture, the hot dog contest makes the Jamboree feel like a real Fourth of July celebration. 

Chief Kaya played an early set showing off the best of the UK dubstep sound, including his own single “Classic Edition.” One of the most highly attended sets at this stage (other than Zeds Dead) was the B2B between Justin Jay and the fast-rising trio Levity. They performed a true B2B, switching seamlessly between Levity’s dubstep bangers into house cuts presumably from Justin Jay’s USB. One highlight was Levity’s breakout single, “Flip It,” which flowed into the recent Jersey club remix of the track by Justin Jay and Don Jamal. 

For a switch up from the dubstep, Jessica Audiffred went back to back with Nostalgix, delivering a heavy dose of bass house. In addition to these sets, the Deadbeats stage featured performances from garage star MPH, 140 queen SICARIA, and the dubstep legend Caspa

Levity stands on the booth as Justin Jay DJs
Levity Stands on the Booth as Justin Jay DJs

Zeds Dead’s Jamboree Set

One might think that by playing five sets in a row all for the same city, Zeds Dead might run out of music to spin. But that certainly was not the case. After 15 years in the game, Zeds Dead have enough beloved material to deliver for their fans every single time. 

The Jamboree set was a diverse one, ranging from slow dubstep tracks to upbeat DnB cuts — encompassing releases both old and new. Zeds Dead opened with a track that their newest fans love: “Ecstacy Of Soul” with GRiZ. But they also delved into their classic tracks like 2014’s “Lost You.” They even served up a track that longtime fans have been chasing: “Woman Wine” from the first-ever Deadbeats Compilation.

Performing in front of the backdrop of the City Hall building, festively illuminated in red, white, and blue, Zeds Dead didn’t need many production frills for this set. They showed up with a powerful setlist that had the entire audience enthralled. 

Another Successful Fourth with Zeds Dead

After the fourth annual Deadbeats Backyard Jamboree, it feels like this event is here to stay. Jamboree had Denver’s masses donning Zeds Dead merch as if it were the American flag. Unlike last year, which was marked by a severe weather delay, the dancing and hot dog eating went on all day without pause in 2024.

Of course, the irony of this event isn’t lost on us. Jamboree is thrown by a Canadian duo and it predominantly features the UK’s biggest musical exports: dubstep and drum and bass. Yet as a Fourth of July party, Jamboree gets it right — delivering outstanding music and celebrating the best relics of classic Americana (hot dogs, beer pong, dunk tanks, and more). 

In an era when earnest patriotism may be passé for some Americans, this may just be the best way for Denver to celebrate the Fourth. We hope Zeds Dead keeps it coming for years to come.

Photos by Amanda Miller

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