Review — Decadence Rings in 2024 With Lights, High Energy and EDM Magic

The second night of Decadence 2023 brought in the new year with the NYE traditional glitz and glimmer accentuated by the hypnotic lights and immersive soundscapes that the Denver electronic scene is known for. 

Typically the home of trade shows and markets, Decadence transformed the Denver Convention Center into a living, breathing kaleidoscope of lights and sculptures. The journey into the festival took attendees through lit tunnels pounding with vibrating bass. 

READ: NYE Look Book: Our 25 Favorites from Decadence 2023

The crowd – dressed in all sorts of aesthetics, colors and sparkle – danced into the venue, immersed immediately in the thumping atmosphere. 

On entering the venue, ecotek was leading the thumping charge at the Motherboard stage. A fixture in the Denver electronic scene, he was a fitting choice to open the show. Though it was just the beginning of what would be an 8-hour experience, ecotek’s set was tight and intentional. The Athens native shifted easily between genres from house to electronica, laying a strong foundation of positive energy. 

decadence

Photo courtesy of On The Search For Pineapples

Eventually, ecotek faded out and Steve Aoki faded in. With eerie stilted figures walking the crowd and neon shapes flashing on the stage, Aoki performed a memorable, multi-sensory set of house fusion, the highlight of which was a jumping remix of Dido’s “Thank You.” The traditionally sentimental hit pulsed through visuals simulating rain, uniting the Decadence crowd into one cohesive, scream-singing voice. While he didn’t throw any cakes, Aoki’s engaging stage presence elevated the performance, seemingly connecting with each individual member of his audience. 

Around 9 p.m., FISHER propelled the night forward with his unique take on the tech-house genre, featuring his characteristic precise balance of driving beats and intricate percussion. 

His visuals bathed the venue in glittering lights as he played his newest hit, “Take It Off.” This glitter — and the former pro-surfer’s perma smile — cast a loving spell over the crowd, who began seamlessly moving and dancing as one entity. From the rail to the back wall, lighthearted energy spread as attendees hugged, traded kandi, and complimented each other’s outfits. 

FISHER’s set not only had everyone on their feet, it also fostered a widespread sense of camaraderie and infectious positivity, leaving Decadence’s attendees with warm, altruistic energy to carry them through the rest of the festival — and the rest of 2023. 

decadence crowd

Photo courtesy of Decadence

Around the corner at the Mainframe stage, Mersiv came on around 9:30 p.m. Most of his set centered around original music from his two latest albums, Out of Bounds and Pretty Dark Loud. 

However, that’s not to say that his set was at all repetitive or stale. He remixed his originals with popular rap from classic Lil Wayne to Nicki Minaj’s instant chart-topper, “FTCU.” These tracks were elevated with trippy visuals depicting laser-shooting eyeballs and exploding spirals. In other words, his heavy, driving set was just the kind of intricate, textured soundscape that Mersiv fans came for. Songs like his head-banging, “Rainbow Road,” displayed downtempo freeform at its finest, leaving the crowd with cricked necks, exhausted bones and racing hearts. 

As the lights flashed and the sets began to run together, the festival began to feel removed from space and time. 

Though the biggest electronic celebration in the U.S. — and arguably the classiest — this festival carried the same approachable companionship so prevalent in the electronic scene. As the Decadence crowd continued to rub shoulders and exchange smiles, it almost didn’t matter what music was playing or what visuals were shining over them — after all, most of the specific moments would be gone from memory by the morning, anyway.

decadence 2023 crowd

Photo courtesy of JayBird Photography

Until Skrillex took the stage, that is.  

As an innovating daddy of the genre, Skrillex capitalized on nostalgia and high vibes for his ball-drop set. While he played recent releases, such as his Fred Again… and Flowdan collab, “Rumble,” and “Fine Day Anthem,” much of his set was made up of tracks that will take you right back to the front seat of your high school best friend’s beater such as the swaying and trappy,  “Make It Bun Dem.” 

With the new year moments away and Skrillex’s iconic “Bangarang” as the soundtrack, it didn’t even really matter that the sweat on your skin wasn’t your own, that the shoulders you were brushing belonged to strangers. It was rave culture summed up in a single moment: frenetic energy, throbbing colors, and high happy vibes from every person on the floor. 

After the ball dropped and the crowd officially welcomed in 2024, Skillex handed the deck seamlessly over to Zed’s Dead with a high-energy collaboration. 

Zed’s Dead, Photo courtesy of Decadence

Zed’s Dead pulled a fitting performance for the end of a dynamic night. The duo shifted effortlessly between many different genres and vibes, from house to dubstep, from dancey to downtempo. This genre-melding set seemed to recapture the energy and vibrations from every other DJ that performed that evening, reminding the audience of why they hold so much love for the scene in the first place.  

Zed’s Dead closed out the marathon New Year’s Eve experience with a melodic, bumping remix of Gene Wilder’s rendition of the Wonka banger “Pure Imagination” mashed with John Lennon’s “Imagine.” 

As a rush of dopamine washed over the swaying crowd, the duo ushered their audience – an impressive amount of whom were still on their feet after 8 hours of shuffling – into a fresh new year, one with the promise of light-hearted positivity and altruistic companionship.