Review – GRiZ’s Last Show at Red Rocks Was a Kickass Family Reunion

After announcing this year is his last year at Red Rocks, GRiZ fans quickly sold out his last shows in anticipation for the final send-off August 30 and 31. GRiZ divided the weekend into two themed nights that celebrated his past and present. Friday was a ‘10-’17 set, meaning all music played Friday evening was from GRiZ’s discography spanning 2010 – 2017. Saturday’s theme was Ride Waves, his latest album release and current summer tour focus. In addition, GRiZ added a Thursday night special set at The Fillmore in Denver for an all-encompassing weekend experience. For the Fillmore show, fans forfeited their phones and cameras in lieu of an immersive and present event. GRiZ moved the stage to the middle of the Fillmore crowd and played a freestyle house party-vibe set that set the weekend off with a firecracker of a party. 

GRiZ is never short on fresh ideas for his concert experiences — and this weekend was no exception. A few days before the event, GRiZ tweeted “Taking song requests for red rocks throwbacks! Hit my line with a text: 313-816-6147.” With a dedicated line set up to facilitate fan interaction, GRiZ made sure fans felt included before the weekend even began. Fans arrived early Friday night to secure a spot for the nostalgic ‘10 – ‘17 set. Attendees from all ages smiled as they saw familiar faces as the crowd adored in their favorite GRiZ merchandise from every year. Whispers of what songs he’d play peppered the audience as the openers geared up Friday night. Muzzy Bearr, GRiZ’s long-time partner in crime, started off the night with a journey set that gradually built in anticipation as the crowd continued to fill up for the sold-out show.

Muzzy Bearr frequently accompanies GRiZ on tour as either an opener or special guest during his set. GRiZ often voices his appreciation for his friend Muzzy Bearr on social media and in-person at his events, so it only seemed fitting to have him set the tone for the weekend by opening up Friday night with a familiar face — his honorary brother and best friend. Following suit was the Boogie T.rio, a live band Boogie T performance. Boogie T is another familiar face for GRiZ fans, the friends co-wrote the Good Will Prevail song “Supa Fly” and he’s joined GRiZ on tour numerous times in the past. While this set was incredibly creative and really showcased Boogie T’s artistic range, the volume was significantly lower than the prior set, which made it difficult to saturate one’s self in the full experience. Nonetheless, the Boogie T.rio delivered a mellowed out yet charismatic performance that primed the crowd for GRiZ’s throwback set.   

After the building excitement reached a critical height, GRiZ sent the crowd flying to their feet for the start of his ‘10 – ‘17 set. He began with a spoken word poem/song hybrid, further reiterating his ability to excel through any creative outlet. Jumping right into the action, GRiZ opened with “Wicked” and kept the energy going throughout by playing banger after banger. With nearly a decade of music to cover, GRiZ moved quickly between album favorites. Highlights of the night include “The Future is Now,” “Smash the Funk,” “Hard Times,” “PS GFY” and a few from his debut 2011 album, End of the World Party. GRiZ kept the crowd on their feet by mixing in some deeper cuts, throwing in a Scream cover and bringing out SunSquabi’s guitarist Kevin Donohue for “Get Down.” After closing with “See You Again,” fans held their breath in hopes of an encore.

Never one to disappoint, GRiZ returned to squeeze in a couple more classics like “Too Young For Tragedy,” “Gotta Push On,” and an emotion-filled “Better Than I’ve Ever Been.” At the height of the encore, GRiZ took a moment to address the crowd in a heartfelt message to remain hopeful for what’s to come. GRiZ reassured the crowd that although this is his last weekend playing Red Rocks, there is plenty to look forward to with the GRiZ project. Filled with sentimentality and excitement for the future, fans reluctantly left the stands to prepare for the upcoming night. Saturday night opened with option4, who provided a steady beat for the crowd to mix and mingle as they found their spots. After a slightly longer set break for the next opener, Louis Futon filled the stage with his full live band, which accounted for the extra time needed for set-up. Louis Futon delivered a stunningly impressive performance of silky jams and dance beats. 

In an attempt to engage the entire crowd, Louis Futon paused during the middle of the set to teach the audience two melodies we could sing for his next song. While the involvement and creative thought were appreciated, the harmonizing melodies were just a bit too complicated for the crowd to keep up with, and the audience participation quickly dwindled. The set pause didn’t slow down Louis Futon or the crowd, and the live band quickly picked back up and partied through the rest of the cohesive set. With a clearly larger stage production set-up for Saturday night, fans impatiently waited for GRiZ’s final night at Red Rocks. Starting again with a psychedelic influenced spoken word opener, GRiZ made his way to the elevated platform in the middle of the stage for the final sendoff. Complete with pyrotechnics, fireworks, and a wall-to-wall LED screen, the Ride Waves set was a full-send performance. GRiZ moved fluidly from song to song, showcasing his latest work in a tapestry of color, positive vibes and awe-striking visuals. There was no question of if he left his mark at Red Rocks, the Ride Waves set utilized his production capability to the fullest. 

The audience was locked into the stage as fire lit up the performers, fireworks filled the sky and the full range of color available on this planet painted the stage throughout the night. Saturday night was the ultimate celebration of Red Rocks, GRiZ’s legacy and for what’s to come. Filled with a renewed appreciation for the world, GRiZ topped off the night by bringing a full marching band to the stage to squeeze out any lasting dance moves, smiles and love overflowing in the crowd. GRiZ ended the night with a speech thanking everyone who’s made the GRiZ project possible. There wasn’t a dry eye in the building, GRiZ has a way of making his words immediately relatable and authentic, from the soul. With Red Rocks filled with new fans and old, GRiZ’s personal friends and family and an immense and unbreakable love for everything he’s brought us, GRiZ’s last weekend at Red Rocks was a family reunion impossible to forget. This isn’t the end of GRiZ, just the start of a new chapter. After this weekend, we know the best is yet to come.

All photography by Brandon Johnson
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