REVIEW — Habstrakt Graced Denver With Love, Death and Dubstep.

Currently based in LA, Habstrakt crossed the Rockies to the bass capitol for a floor-shaking performance in the Ogden Theater on his Distorted Reality tour. With one foot in French house music and another in experimental dubstep, Habstrakt is impossible to resist, and he selected the perfect blend of openers to prepare the audience for his intense late-night set. CHYL and Softest Hard brought hypnotizing dance music sprinkled with their own experimental sounds and imagery, easily satisfying every Denver EDM fan’s desires.

The night began with good vibes as words flashed onscreen reminding fans to “stay chyl” and CHYL’s neo-pop EDM filled the Ogden. CHYL’s bouncy energy onstage bled over to the crowd and her flashy racecar and hyper-femme aesthetic shone behind her in bright stimulating colors mixed with harsh black-and-white visual drops. The car aesthetic even included a few impressive runs on the classic Mario Kart track, rainbow road. 

Photo courtesy of CHYL on Facebook.

A remix of “Some Chords” by deadmau5 shed light on her greater knowledge of the electronic genre and created a dynamic sound as it mixed with her ultra-modern style. “Hoyaa!” which references pop culture even in name and “Boom Boom” had fans matching each song’s speed and dancing with a smile. 

Rhythmic predictably throughout the set kept fans jumping and easter eggs for the sets to come began building the hype one sample at a time. CHYL also connected with the crowd, reaching offstage for high fives and dancing with a wide smile. 

Before long, Softest Hard took to the stage with intensity, harsh sounds both low and high and dark imagery. Black and red-themed visuals littered will skulls pulled fans down from CHYL’s rainbow road into Bowser’s heavy bass dungeon. After the initial transition, Softest Hard moved into a more dance-focused portion of her set. Remixing with iconic samples from “Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield to “when the party’s over” by Billie Eilish and  “m.A.A.d City” by Kendrick Lamar, any genre could become entangled with her sound.

Album art for Softest Hard’s single, “My Boo”

Porcelain hands stuck up through pink clouds contrasted by the baby blue sky as the energy continued to shift into more wavy electronic with frequent dips back into heavy bass. Consistent emphasis visually on the female form mixed with futuristic metallic pastels seemed to truly represent the meaning behind her stage name.

Coming towards the end of her set, Softest Hard affirmed her connection with the crowd, calling out, “Denver what the fuck is good?!” As the hype boiled over to near-moshpit level energy Softest Hard welcomed Habstrakt to the stage. 

The crowd shook with anticipation as Habstrakt, oozing creativity from painted nails, heavily stylized tattoos, and no fear of a unique hairstyle, claimed the stage as his own. Skulls, roses, human figures, hands and even the heads of dogs and Texas Longhorns flashed rhythmically on the backdrop. Much of the artwork used on this tour was actually drawn by Habstrakt himself, who outside of his music is very interested in two-dimensional art and currently American classic tattoo-style drawings. This commitment to art and pure creativity filled the Ogden with chanting fans. 


Photo courtesy of Habstrakt.

Swinging fully into club mode, Habstrakt brought out “Chicken Soup” featuring the legendary Skrillex. Continuing with the hype, “Outer Space” flooded the Ogden with a unique supersonic uptempo sound over a heavy club beat, stirring something deep in fans’ bodies and bringing out the classic rave fist pump all around.

In a very different art style, surreal and up-close visual representations of gravity played in loops on screen. From ice cubes sinking into water to balloons rising into the sky, movement was a constant theme. With this was a focus on fire as well. Flames ravenously climbed up the strings of balloons or pulsed out of the windows of a house that towered behind Habstak’s figure.


Habstrakt performing live.

Fans were ecstatic to journey through much of the most recent album, with “Juicy,” “Just Like The Rest of Us,” and “Molotov” serving as a high-speed roller coaster of sound. Habstrakt’s drops have an incredible delicacy to them, drawing fans in for as long as possible to then push them off the edge of the auditory cliff into a sea of heavy noise. Also off the newest album “Libre,” the collaborative track with IMANU, was a prime example of this uniquely intense beat drop that keeps adrenaline junky fans coming back for more. 

Possibly the most important project in his discography so far, Habstrakt described Heritage as purely “[his] own vision for the first time,” in his career. In this era of his life, Habtrakt emphasized a focus on not “overthinking, or overcomplicating.” This mentality has been involved deeply in his recent writing and recording mindset. Fortunately for fans, Heritage has revived Habstrakt’s passion for creating even under the industry’s pressure and life’s complications

Now extremely analytic of his own genre, Habstrakt listens to French rap, movie scores, Justice, Radio Head and much more outside of dubstep or EDM. This can be heard in the variety of his live remixes. Habstrakt touched on clubbing music from the early 2000’s with classics like “Pump It” by the Black Eyed Peas, “Do It To It” by ACRAZE and Cherish and “Tokyo Drifting” by the Teriyaki Boyz, which had fans sweating bullets. While on the edgier side of pop culture, a remix of “In the End” by Linkin Park with dubstep overtones was very well received as the audience joined for a cathartic moment of commiseration and angst.

Habstrakt expressed his love for Denver and extended his set as the audience showed no sign of leaving when midnight rolled around. With a final explosive drop, Habstrakt grew still and let the air settle back to silence. Over cheers from the crowd, Habstrakt panted, “I’m going home to play some fucking Zelda!” And that, he did.