Tash Sultana is a one-person band, dance team and now, video star. Sultana brought their sold out “Flow State Tour” to Red Rocks, along with every instrument imaginable, to be filmed for a currently unnamed future project. The Red Rocks performance is the multi-instrumentalist’s largest to date, so the project will serve as exciting documentation to their evolution as an artist.
The night served as the perfect fall evening up on the Western hill, and the opener, The Teskey Brothers, rocked their bluesy set as the remarkable sunset of purple and blue set behind the Rockies. Like their headlining friend Sultana, The Teskey Brothers are also from Melbourne, Australia, and they too enjoy a healthy rotation of instruments. As their name implies, the group consists of two brothers, Josh and Sam on guitar, and includes members on the bass, drums, organ, trumpet and trombone. They ended their energetic set by leaping into the audience and allowing fans to sing along.
Just before 9 p.m., Sultana dropped the house music and made their way to a steep platform in the middle of the stage. On the platform were the many, many instruments that were on deck to facilitate a production unlike any other. Small neon signs on a rainbow and cactus lit up two tables decorated by tapestries that held elaborate technology as well as sticks of burning incense. The set up was reminiscent of a heady dorm room — in the best way.
Sultana dove into the set, rocking the guitar, drum machines, trumpet and other contraptions. The musician raced across the stage, galloping and dancing with no hesitation. The camera focused on their facial expression, showing a deep pleasure as if no one in the venue was having more fun than the creator themself.
Sultana’s hands raced up and down the guitar neck, gleaming with large rings and swiftly moving black tattoos. At one point, in such a fit of enthrallment, the soloist threw the guitar onto the stage and abandoned the instrument for the looping equipment at center stage.
Goofy faces and full smiles made the night feel less like a venue of 10,000 and more like a friend showcasing their music to a small gathering in a friend’s basement. The wafting incense floating into up into the audience reinforced this vibe on a physical level. It was not until half-way through the night that the singer took a moment to speak to the crowd, offering personal anecdotes, humor and gratitude for the chance to play for so many.
The second half continued the tranquil yet boppy tracks that took points to burst into rages of sound decorated by intense, psychedelic images behind the performance. When Sultana found a particularly righteous groove to rock, their signature beanie hat would fly off, only to be shortly placed back in its designated home on their head.
After essentially beatboxing into a flute, the musician took to shredding “Jungle” before exiting for an encore. After a few moments, Sultana returned for an acoustic/flamenco segment that turned into “Blackbird.” Long-winded jams may have brought the night to a close, but Sultana is just getting started. Red Rocks will just have to wait until next time for more.
Photography by Brandon Johnson.