A fixture in the Colorado dance music scene for a while now, Denver-based Producer Illenium has gone from local favorite to critically acclaimed over the last few years. The twenty-something DJ has been turning heads not only with the high profile remixes that he takes on (i.e. Don’t Let Me Down by The Chainsmokers and Say It by Flume), but also with his original music (Illenium released his full-length album Ashes in February, 2016). Despite being a staple in the Denver EDM world, I hadn’t seen Illenium live until recently and now I’m regretting not doing so sooner.
It’s a Wednesday in December of 2016 and it is frigid in Denver. A recent storm has left snow on the ground and now temperatures are plunging. Still, a little bad weather can’t keep eager dance music fans in and we head to the Ogden Theater to see just what blossoming star Illenium is all about.
The opening of Illenium’s set is a slow build. I am most struck by the visuals – burning trees with the producer’s signature Phoenix logo popping up throughout. The intro explodes into Illenium’s hit Afterlife and the set only goes up from there. Early on, Illenium plays a song that he announces to be “unreleased” as nature scenes soar by in the background. In between mixing songs, he turns to play drums, much like Odesza does. There is also a live piano player that adds another layer to the melodic greatness that is this set.
While Illenium does play much of his own music, known and unreleased, he also throws in crowd favorites. Porter Robinson and Madeon’s hit Shelter sees a great reaction from the audience, The Hills by Weeknd feeds into a hard dubstep drop then to trap and Skrillex’s remix of Benny Bennassi’s Cinema even makes an appearance. If there is one take away from this show it’s that Illenium is not afraid to shake things up musically. It doesn’t stop there though – the young producer goes on to play Alone by Marshmello, Fade by Adventure Club, Gold Dust by Galantis, and Disarm You by Kaskade.
I am in awe by how Illenium seamlessly moves through such a variety of music while leaving plenty of space for his own creations and keeping the crowd engaged. The set is peaceful, melodic bliss while being vibrant and varied, much like Illenium’s original music.
The set starts to wind down as Illenium plays his remix of Flume’s monster Say It. Another unreleased song, that reminds me vaguely of the sound from Diplo’s Revolution, follows. Not unexpectedly, Illenium saves his unique and fresh remix of The Chainsmokers’ Don’t Let Me Down for his closing song. This rallies the crowd enough for an “encore” and he plays his Seven Lions hit collaboration Rush Over Me.
Feeling revitalized after the set, we head back out into the cold night, thanking Illenium for an amazing show.