Pretty Lights shine at Red Rocks

David Accomazzo | Boulder Weekly

Fort Collins DJ Derek Smith, aka Pretty Lights, has quietly built himself into one of the most potent DJ acts this side of the Rocky Mountains, and he has done it mostly via word of mouth and by offering all his music as free downloads from his website.

The proof was in the audience at his Aug. 7 show at Red Rocks Amphitheater, where a sold-out, young-looking crowd raged hard for Smith’s lengthy sets. Smith has relied on an interesting paradigm to get him where he is today, and the average age of the crowd, which looked to be about 18, proved that an artist can be successful without relying on the increasingly outdated record label model.

The song selection itself was a little unexpected. The songs were a little down-tempo, not quite the four-on-the-floor fist-pounders you’d expect from a dance music DJ. But that’s not really Smith’s thing — and that didn’t stop everyone from dancing anyway. It did make for a mellower evening than one would have expected, not like you could tell from watching the crowd. They ate it up. Most looked underage, and many had dressed as if they were going to a nightclub, since they can’t yet get into real ones.

This was also the debut show for new Pretty Lights drummer Adam Deitch, who has drummed for The Game, Justin Timberlake, Fats Domino and The John Scofield Band. He performed with the same mechanical precision demanded of any sort of electronica drummer, and he did so admirably. It’s hard to judge an electronica drummer, who’s there basically to simulate a drum machine, but he played the parts well and without any hitches.

Enjoy the slideshow of the Pretty Lights show at Red Rocks.