We Went to Our First Concert Since the Start of The Pandemic | Kaytranada at Red Rocks
Evan Dale // May 5, 2021
We admit that we’re spoiled here in Colorado. The weather, the scenery, the weed, the music. Most notably, all of those elements come together at Red Rocks Amphitheater, and for the first time in such a long time, so many came together at Red Rocks for some reminiscence on normality – or rather, the abnormality of a feeling what was once in the not so distant past so normal for us all: a concert. There had already been a few Lotus shows to open this Red Rocks season: a stretch of months spanning from late Spring into early Fall where the unpredictable Colorado weather is at least usually predictably warm albeit rarely dry. And, of course, the opening of this Red Rocks season – in April of 2021 – was more than a year removed from its last. 2020 didn’t exist for concerts – at least not after March, and at least not in their traditional form.
Artists did, however, as they always do, find ways to overcome the challenges that isolation wrought on shows. Digital concerts hosted by everyone from underground rappers to headlining DJ’s and their accompanying festival lineups found ways to livestream shows and sets to their fans across the world. They were great and gave fans some sense of global community in an equal fight to overcome the challenges of the pandemic. But nothing could replace concerts as we know them. And though concerts as we knew them are certainly not what anyone is walking into these days, walking into a concert is still better than watching one on a laptop.
Truly, the loss of concerts seems to have been and continues to be one of the most standout commonalities of the forgotten things a general public tends to reminisce on of in the pre-pandemic past we all took for granted. Concerts are a great equalizer of peoples. Everyone connects to music, and to see it live evokes such an ancient trance in all of our ancestral DNA that we can’t help but move and shake, while finding an inner emotional response and an outlet of self-expressionism. We connect with ourselves and with others at concerts. We let it out. We be our true selves, and we exist in that state unjudged in the name of music, experience, and community. Many undoubtedly failed to realize just how important that experience was for us all. And as months turned into a year of nothing but the cancelling of shows and the announcement of yet another livestream, that changed for at least a moment and for a lucky few.
It was hard to believe at first, while mindlessly scrolling through Twitter, I came across an announcement of Kaytranada tickets at Red Rocks coming on sale in just a half-hour. I sent it to all of my Colorado friends, told everyone to make a play at the limited number of tickets being sold, and came away with four myself. What I failed to realize was just how widespread the desire to attend the show was. Everyone was fiending for a concert, not to mention one that Kaytranada was headlining; not to mention Red Rocks; not to mention Sango and Lou Phelps also on the ticket. I was buying concert tickets; others were buying flights to Colorado. This was a golden opportunity for any of the 2,500 people able to get admission to one of the back-to-back shows that would bring us all back together.
It’s in the nature of the spoils of living in Colorado, that Red Rocks is perhaps slightly less special to us than the fairytale that non-Coloradans make of it. Sure, Red Rocks is magical, but for many in Colorado, it really is just a cool place to see a show and to soak up experiences during the Summertime. For many outside of Colorado, however, it’s a mecca of sorts – a place to which a pilgrimage must be made for any true music fan. And those true music fans – in the Twitter verse of a music journalist’s feed, nonetheless – were hungry, for so many reasons, to attend. People were willing to make a trip out of it, and from far and wide, those who could get their hands on tickets did exactly that.
By the time the day of the show rolled around, it was nothing if not beautifully strange. Of course, the weather was ominous, and of course we kept our eyes on the clouds and our weather apps open all day long. That uncertainty is just part of the Red Rocks charm. And per the magic that is Red Rocks, the weather that night was perfectly imperfect. Rain is a staple in the Springtime foothills outside of Denver. Ponchos are also cheap, and the tradeoff for attending a show in the rain verses not attending at all is asinine to even consider.
From the sunsetting onset of the show, and the dynamic opening work of Sango, the rain felt more like a baptism than it did a damper on the first concert – the first party – we had attended in more than a year. Through a Lou Phelps set that shined a light on his poetic prowess and into the mainstage encapsulation that Kaytranada holds on anyone watching and listening, everyone in the limited capacity, sold out, socially distanced crowd felt blind to any abnormalities of what the show was compared to what we once knew.
Instead, elation was overwhelming. Most shows achieve the connective tissue of unified passion from a crowd, but this was something else entirely. A rebirth, a baptism, Kaytranada at Red Rocks in the relentless rain reopening so many eyes and ears to live music, was as harmonious and religious as art, music, and culture can be.