As it began, Swayd’s show on Tuesday night at Cervantes’ Other Side seemed more like a social event than a concert. There were people scattered throughout the venue, barley moving to mesmerizing music, and talking in separated groups as if at a high school dance. The set-up stage was missing a DJ, and the only drama consisted of bartenders yelling at a TV showing the basketball game.
However, it became clear to me that the first hour of the show was solely to set the atmosphere for the night. I quickly became accustomed to the polite and non-judgmental people – reeking of marijuana and fruity vape smoke – happily introducing themselves to strangers of similar music taste.
In the back are vendors set up under walls filled with paintings of famous musicians, supplying fans of 30-years-old and younger with hat pins, gems, posters, or even a cheap burrito. I was confused of the quiet environment, but such vendors understood that this was the perfect time to market their items.
“This is only the calm before the storm brother,” said a poster vendor.
An hour into the socializing, the hypnotizing music stops. The few people who showed up to mingle begin to migrate to the dance floor. I hear over the speakers that Unicorn Raver, the opening DJ for the night, is going to “give us his beats.” A kid, no older than 18, reveals himself from the backstage smoke, puts on his headphones, and releases the storm. The bass is deafening, no lyrics, and the sounds so different that I can only describe them as “wonky”. Out of the 20 people on the dance floor, only half are dancing.
A couple of audience members have multi-colored lights attached to each of their fingers, moving them in the faces of other members who volunteered to be hypnotized by the fluid-like movement of lights. Another man in the audience is dancing with larger spheres of light attached to long strings, as though reciting the ways of sword-fighting, engaged in their very own show.
The opening DJ finishes his set, and the dance floor has filled up with under 100 people awaiting Swayd, the headliner for the night. Alex Greiner, or known as Swayd, now playing among a much larger fan base – he started performing years ago and was not too popular according to MTV news – is a rare sort of DJ, known for his different sounds and crowd involvement.
I can feel the anticipation among the audience for the Colorado native stepping up to the stage, and Arapahoe Community College freshman, Zach Hothem, was among the awaited.
“Watch Swayd just take over,” said Hothem.
Swayd appears in front of the turn tables on stage in a casual hoodie and flat-top hat. As soon as the DJ begins his first song, there is a buzzing sound that continuously gets louder and louder, accompanied by the consuming bass making my body shake. As the sounds get of higher pitch, all music stops, the audience yells in unison “OH!”, and Swayd immediately drops the beat with even louder “wonky” noises and heavier bass.
All members of the audience go wild; flailing their arms in all directions, jumping side to side as high as possible, and head banging so viciously as if they are unaware of a sore neck the next morning. I can see people smiling, yelling, or look completely serious, focusing on their dancing and movements.
I am in the middle of it, surrounded by the heat and sweat of audience members in their own one-man mosh pits. I look behind me and I notice stragglers standing almost still, swaying side to side, but with a look of appreciation on their faces. It is then I realize that all in attendance are similar regarding music taste and their non-judgmental attitudes, however everyone has their own way of expressing the fun and ear-ringing sounds being created by Swayd. Still, everyone is enjoying the non-stop bass and “wonks” for the rest of the show.
These concerts are meant for those who are loyal to this genre of music. Outsiders to this underground world of deep electronic would be lost due to the understood ways of how and when to act, talk, or dance. The songs all sound the same to the untrained ear, and it is more about having fun and letting loose than it is about appreciating the music. However, many of those among the audience failed to dance at all, and instead watched Swayd entertain the bass-loving, head-banging, smoke-filled crowd. It was my most wild and memorable Tuesday yet.