Rockies: High Plains Drift

Colorado's "Rave on the Rocks" in Red Rocks park

Colorado’s “Rave on the Rocks” in Red Rocks park

Counter-clockwise, it’s 10 and big mountains are on the horizon… Feel 2:

Download: Feel 2 – Midwest to Rockies: High Plains Drift, at 160 kbps


“In the West and Midwest, people first found their way to Rocky Mountain discos in the forests and plains. In winter, they didn’t hibernate but generated heat by dancing on the inside. Just up north in Toronto, Canada, a wunderkind going by the name Deadmau5 showed isolation in the midsection of the continent is a good thing if you want to follow your own path. Hailing from Fort Collins, Colorado, music genius Pretty Lights polished out a funkier sound and only asked for donations, like a true samaritan greeting weary travelers pulling into the depot. And over the Rockies and Grand Junction looms the City of Din.”

Deadmau5 billboard ad

EDM infiltrates the mainstream, exhibit N: Deadmau5 ad

Starting with the outer towns of Detroit and Chicago, electronic dance music spread westward through the Midwest and over the Rocky Mountains. From the Plus 8 parties of Plastikman infamy to the outdoor party scenes of Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, the beat found its way into the high country. In the 1990s, local artists like Nebula Nine devised a trance sound that brought a rugged optimism to the fore. In more recent years, artists like DJ Harry and Pretty Lights have honed a more funky approach, equal parts Stanton Warriors and Brothers Johnson (check the bass credits for Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and “Billie Jean”).

The rodeo is still running in Wyoming and other parts of the Midwest and Rockies. But that doesn’t mean it is still country or even rock ‘n’ roll territory. New generations of Americans have come to these states for more economic and social space. These newcomers are bringing a more progressive point of view, making Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico crucial swing states in the 2012 election. It’s a cultural mix that is best represented by the hybrid pop of U2, who while Irish, have a country-rave gusto to their recent music tours. It’s no wonder they remain popular in the country’s center.

Echoes of Scandinavian currents in the northern parts of this region are also deep and DeadMau5’s play on Ray Bradbury’s cautionary short story “The Veldt” (an Afrikaan word for “wide land”) calls to mind a surreal Great Plains as much as South Africa’s frontier. Add to that the ambient folk of Wisconsin’s Bon Iver and you have an electronic wave of intellectual discovery. The Shamen’s “Move Any Mountain” and U2’s “Heartland” are extra pennies for your thoughts.


Download: Feel 2 – Midwest to Rockies: High Plains Drift, at 160 kbps


Pretty Lights

Local Rocky Mountain electronic act Pretty Lights