Eptic performs onstage with pyrotechnics

The Mission Ballroom in Denver hosted an audiovisual extravaganza on Saturday night as Eptic delivered a monumental performance.

Belgian DJ and producer Eptic, real name Michaël Bella, played the first set for which he curated all the visuals. Having dedicated months to the creation and execution of the stage production, Bella also credited his partner Yara for her work on the project.

Controlling multiple aspects of the show, including pyrotechnics and lasers, is a huge undertaking. Based on fan and peer reactions, those efforts paid off! Beyond the custom graphics, the evening also offered attendees a collection of neck-cracking bass. Featuring stellar support and a surprise collaborative performance, it was a night of nonstop action.

An (Evil) Empire

Since he started producing music in his teens, Bella has been driven by producing original music . In a 2022 interview, he shared that he is excited that playing more new music is making a return to EDM, especially dubstep.

Commenting on interactions with fellow artists Space Laces, Marauda, and SVDDEN Death, Bella gave his thoughts on success. “It made me realize that I don’t have to worry about making an album or making an EP,” he said. “I should just sit down and have fun making music and see whatever comes out of it.”

That sentiment followed the release of the first Eptic LP The End Of The World, which featured collaborations with Marauda and MUST DIE! After the album was released, Bella focused on executing his first headlining tour, production for the Hell On Earth shows, and making new music.

EDM producer and DJ Eptic performs onstage with giant hand graphics during his Hell On Earth set.

The Mission Ballroom audience was the first to witness the spectacular new custom Eptic stage production. Elaborating on its design, Bella stated: “I sat down and decided to not compromise on anything and just try and make the best art I can, the same way I approach music.” His stylistic approach to using “old, cursed, video game-style” graphics fits perfectly with the almost Gothic electronic music he plays. The entire set featured hand-crafted images instead of CGI programming. It was like witnessing a concert performed inside the old-school arcade classic Castlevania. Move over, Roblox!

Memorable Moments

Bella left no stone unturned ensuring the highly anticipated event’s success. From the opening act to the closing bonus set, each artist on the bill was an on-point selection.

Opener Algo dropped bass-heavy dubstep banger after another. His song selection was eclectic, featuring a variety of influences from hip-hop to Latin vibes to heavy metal. A remix of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ track “Heads Will Roll” got the crowd pumped up and ready for more.

Filling the second half-hour slot was Automhate. As the floor filled in, his interactions got attendees dancing. Algo’s set featured harder, darker riddim-influenced dubstep, with faster beats and mechanical sounds that would fit into a tense horror movie.

The next set featured mystery and emotion in the form of Spass B2B Dum Dum. The alias Spass has caused a buzz in the riddim community. Guesses as to the identity of the masked contributor(s) have included Aweminus and VUlllGUR. While no one is stepping forward to claim the fame, we can have fun guessing!

Another mystery performer joined the fray during the already busy set: Pyke popped in for a guest appearance. Another mysterious, masked riddim artist (or collective), the alias has fans equally puzzled. One thing is for certain: the crowd could not get enough!

The other half of the B2B set was Dum Dum aka Neonix. The artist announced that the performance was his last planned live show, and a recent post shared that a Neonix album is slated for release in 2024. He also mentioned that he will still be active occasionally but has no intentions of future touring.

Poster for Eptic's Hell On Earth show at Denver's Mission Ballroom

Now Things are Getting Animated…

MUST DIE! took the stage next as the growing crowd neared capacity. A bold anime video backdrop partnered perfectly with hard-driving techno-meets-dub-meets-sci-fi soundscapes. High-energy mixes scored various cartoon images onscreen, including a postmodern female warrior, a grenade and machine gun, and a runner atop a moving passenger train. As his more rock-influenced tracks got fans pumped up for Eptic, a call to “open it up” led to a heavy metal-style pit forming in the crowd.

Unveiling a bevy of new music during the performance, MUST DIE! treated fans to what could have been a headlining set — and the night was still young! If you missed his performance, you can catch his upcoming December shows at the Fox Theatre in Boulder or the Aggie Theatre in Fort Collins.

The final opener of the night was Australian DJ and producer Blanke. There was a distinct method to the madness of his creative set. Each track started with a hit pop or rock song accompanied by serene natural scenery displayed as the original track played. Signaling an upcoming shake-up, the Blanke logo appeared onscreen and shattered into fiery pieces. After being reimagined as dubstep, the melodies build to slamming beats in a realm where dream pop meets crunchy bass lines. His video images cued the crowd to what was coming next. As further evidence of his total takeover of the tune, the visuals then turned apocalyptic.

Once each song had been “conquered,” a tattered flag with the Blanke logo waved in victory over the languished landscape. Audio victories he won included remixes of Evanescence, Zed’s Dead, and — his set closer — a Sullivan King track. Also on display were several “Aeon Mode” tracks, which showcased his drum and bass chops.

Eptic plays onstage in front of his animations of Blucifer, the glowing-eyed mustang that adorns Denver International Airport

Let The Countdown Begin!

The moment fans were waiting for was coming up. A crimson countdown began playing on the LCD screen, with extra digits for the microseconds. The counter stopped at six… then comes another six… and another: 666!

Some of the 8-bit graphics that Bella has custom-designed for the Hell On Earth shows appeared. Moments later, skeletal hands invaded the black screen, pulling back a digital curtain to reveal a red glow. Bounding onstage was Eptic, perching above a giant black skull with three illuminated eyes. Lasers flashed. Pyrotechnics illuminated. This was what the night was all building towards!

Bringing a barrage of beats, Bella would mix in Eptic tracks, along with remixes of HOL! and MUST DIE! His set also featured several choice cuts written by his recently cofounded EDM supergroup Masterhand.

Each track partnered with unique screen images that were hand-crafted by Bella for the performance. One favorite was an illustration of Blucifer — the famed blue horse statue adorning the Denver International Airport entrance — teased online before the show.

Another video sequence demonstrated Bella’s clever wit. When playing a remix of a Missy Elliot song, instead of displaying the lyrics, he hilariously broadcasted on the screen that “Missy is talking too fast… I’m not animating that… I gotta come up with something else… Worm Time!” And sure enough, onscreen was a pink, wriggling worm. To add to the bit, he doubled down with what else but… two worms??

EDM: Electronic Dance Metal!

When playing the Eptic x Marauda song “Wall Of Death,” Bella showed a screen visual that commanded to “OPEN <- ->” the wall. Fans did their best to comply, and a massive pit ensued when the bass dropped.

Throughout his set, a tireless barrage of skulls, bats, cats, and demonic entities flashed onscreen. Meanwhile, a dazzling array of lasers — controlled via Eptic’s A/V techs — were paired with the venue’s fantastic lighting display, illuminated the ballroom. Even the Mission’s gigantic, lighted disco ball got in on the action, flashing to match the effects.

EDM supergroup Masterhand, comprised of Eptic, SVDDEN Death, and Space Laces, poses satirically.

Let’s Give a Hand for the Masters

After the main Eptic set, fans hoped for another song, maybe two, and the crew next to me was sure SVDDEN Death would be coming out. Those were great guesses; they hinted at what was on the way next. After a narrated backstory of three wizards coming together after embarking on separate journeys, the logo of each artist flashed onscreen. The chronicler of the tale revealed their identities: Eptic. Space Laces. SVDDEN Death. Together, they form Masterhand!

Slaying the audience with an ear-crushing barrage of original tracks, the trio blew the roof off Mission Ballroom. Along with over 15 minutes of face-melting bass, Masterhand-themed screen images differentiated it from the headline performance. Something old, something new. Something borrowed, something Blu(cifer)… A perfect marriage of sensory sights and sounds left the crowd in awe. They were equally thankful and exhausted from a night of headbanging, moshing, and dancing away their holiday food hangover.

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