Gothic piano music plays. Lights flash, and smoke pours as the rhythm reaches a fever pitch. Bounding to the stage is an orange jumpsuit-clad DJ Snake. Black and white geometric shapes play on the screens, accenting his brilliant outfit.
As the beat drops, sparks literally fly. A stream of pyrotechnics warms the chilly crowd, and they erupt with ecstatic cheers. It’s time to dance!
Building to Billions
Playing at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on 11/11, DJ Snake gave the audience a mix of new music and the tracks that made him famous. The deejay and producer, real name William Sami Étienne Grigahcine, was born in Paris, France. Of French and Algerian descent, Grigahcine has been mixing and making music since his teens. He has a knack for seamlessly blending pop, hip-hop, and world music into his sets.
Bridging those styles with house, trap and dubstep rhythms brings a diverse group of fans to his shows. Boasting multiple songs with over a billion streams on Spotify, Grigahcine’s wide-ranging collaborations attest to his global popularity.
Turn it Up, You Know You Like It
As he became widely recognized in 2013 thanks to his work with a pair of industry giants, it’s likely that you heard DJ Snake’s music before realizing it. Grigahcine rocketed to success that year thanks to production work on Lady Gaga’s Born This Way album and a track released with Lil Jon. His smash hit “Turn Down For What” is a club anthem that proved a fan fave at Saturday night’s show. Coming off a headlining set at the Dusk Music Festival in Tucson the prior night, he kept the party rolling in Colorado.
The latest DJ Snake track was also on display, a collaboration with South Korean singer Jungkook (of BTS fame) titled “Please Don’t Change.” One element that is unchanging across Grigahcine’s shows is his consummate ability to hype up a crowd. His masterful emcee skills and breakneck beat changes assured maximum audience engagement. On the chilly November night, fans eagerly followed his energetic instructions as if Simon himself said to.
Backlit by a gigantic screen playing mind-bending visuals and encircled by lights, DJ Snake was at the center of a visual extravaganza. Dazzling the crowd were pillars of flames and eye-catching pyrotechnic effects that accented Grigahcine’s tempo changes. Staying true to the artistic spirit that earned the artist his nickname, he illuminated Red Rocks with optic art befitting a Paris gallery.
It was Grigahcine’s skill at evading police after tagging graffiti works in his youth that originally earned him the nickname Snake. That moniker stayed with him as he began deejaying, and he’s owned it. Several serpentine images slithered across the screens during his set, delighting the droves of fans on hand.
Stellar Supporting Sounds
Curating an epic night of music requires more than just strong song selection and lighting effects. Assuring the packed house is pumped up and partying all night is an equally important task, and Grigahcine came through. Bringing a lineup of amazing EDM artists to open things up helped him do just that.
Kicking off the show was Denver’s own Decker Rush. It was Rush Hour on the rocks as the local DJ brought the grooves. Favorites included a massive remix of Notorious B.I.G.’s “Big Poppa” and an electro-funk version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams.”
Keeping the party going was DEVAULT — real name Sage DeVault — with his hypnotic melodies. DeVault gained notoriety when he released an official remix of DJ Snake’s track “A Different Way” featuring Lauv. Blending smooth sounds and pulsing bass patterns, his enchanting rhythms kept the crowd swaying.
Turning Up the Intensity
Taking the stage next was the Australian EDM project What So Not. Producer Emoh Instead — real name Christopher Emerson — is the mind behind the music. His cleverly crafted pieces range from haunting and ethereal to frenzied and fun. The project began as a duo, featuring Emerson and fellow Aussie producer Flume. A highlight of Emerson’s eclectic set was when Daktyl joined him onstage for their recent collaboration “Fever.”
Last up before DJ Snake was the American DJ with Thai roots known as Knock2 – real name Richard Nakhonethap. Heralded as an emerging powerhouse in EDM, Nakhonethap brought his Room202 warehouse-style atmosphere to the outdoors. His high-energy set awed the crowd. Delivering dubstep and trap bangers nonstop, he had spectators bopping along all the way up to row 70. Concertgoers would later get treated to Knock2 and DJ Snake performing together during the headliner’s set.
Photos by Joe Pekara