That just sounds good. And that's the pitch for Beta, arguably the highest quality club in Denver. Between having the mighty Beatport with a hand in operations, along with two Funktion 1 Sound systems, you can bet that the sound your feeling is pleasing to more than just the ears. So a solo debut in town from John Digweed? Well, that sounded great too. Digweed has been synonymous with excellence within dance culture for the past two decades—twenty years that has seen Diggers move from his early inspirational Renaissance days, through the dark tribal and progressive sounds and now onto modern techno and tech house with his successful Transitions series. The last I saw of him live was on the legendary Delta Heavy tour, where he and Sasha absolutely killed it, but it was the tribal dark stuff then, so I was looking forward to hearing his current run of selections—especially on an exceptional sound system.
People dancing upon arrival is always a great start to a night. "A lot of dancers. A good staff attracts a good crowd and a lot of dancers," say Holli, one of the countless beauties behind the bar as she hands over a drink. Indeed. A simple point, but one look around the place and there was no disagreeing with her. The music was moving nicely into tech-house territory from the more progressive house that started the night. Kostas of local stalwarts, The Triad Dragons, got the nod for opening duties and was warming the place up nicely. A gang of girls were enjoying getting their groove on some early floor space in the main room. At 10:30, the club was almost at half capacity (950) and the vibe was solid. When a new personal favorite, Robbie Pardoel's "Orologio" dropped into the room on those speakers, all signs were pointing towards GO. With Diggers about an hour away, the potential was building towards a memorable evening.
Beta has a wonderful, flowing layout that makes it fun to stay on the move and find your comfort zone. So I milled around the 18+ crowd (Thursdays only), getting a feel for why people had gathered to see the legend on the bill. Answers were varying from "John WHO?," to "…its John…effing…Digweed, man." The difference in reactions continued to add to an exciting vibe, as the heads knew what they were in for and the heads that did not, well…they were about to be blown off. One walk through the sparsely populated second room upstairs was all I needed. Though Top 40 sounds great on a Funktion 1, it could not hold a candle to what was brewing downstairs.
11:00. The anticipation and the crowd are growing by the minute. Thick green lasers are attacking overtop the mass of bouncing silhouettes, as the tracks are now chugging along, rolling towards the takeover on the decks. Kostas has the crowd in his pocket, beautifully building the energy for the King of Bedrock, who is now fidgeting around in the booth. The crowd realizes this and the whooping, whistling and hollering doubles. A quarter past the hour and the man emerges at the controls. Down drops a dark curtain behind the superstar and in comes his classic spacey, beatless intro. The main room is almost completely full and hands are in the air…
Unfortunately, that was the peak of the night. What ensued from there was a loss of the momentum that was handed to him. Digweed's set was a rollercoaster consisting of three tracks up the hill, three tracks down. Minilogue's fresh one "Snake Charmer" made an appearance. But I couldn't identify any others and I really have no interest in doing so, as there were few jams the crowd really ate up. The tempo seemed to float between 123 – 128 bpms, at times sounding generic and flat. Late into the set, I overheard about half a dozen people saying how they were feeling the opening set more. I couldn't help but agree.
A lob pass was thrown to Digweed, and he doinked it off the rim. All the proper pieces had been set in place: Superb venue, great opening set, large enthusiastic crowd. Though I left feeling a bit disappointed by his performance, I still had an enjoyable evening. I don't think I was alone in those thoughts either, overhearing on my way out the door from a mellow clubber, "…well, that's what Thursdays are for." A sign, then, that people are up for it here in Denver and Beta is a top platform to deliver the goods.