Colorado: home to over 300 breweries, recreational marijuana and the Great American Techno Festival. What started three years ago has continued to annually connect the underground dance community around Denver for a solid event.
Great American Techno Festival was started in 2011, named tongue-in-cheek after the Great American Beer Festival that occurred the same weekend. The name stuck, and has had techno fans in Denver anxiously awaiting the announcement every year. This year, Great American Beer Festival occurred a week prior, thus eliminating any competition for the music festival.
This year’s festival was a three day event spanning multiple venues. Every day of the festival had a day party at Allied Creatives, a communal art and cultural center in Denver’s gritty River North (RhiNo) district. This served as the GATF headquarters for the remainder of the festival, hosting a kitchy party each day. Guests could see local talent spinning while sipping a PBR, and checking out the pop-up record store. Merchandise was available for purchase, which included some great shirts and zip up hoodies.
GATF started off on the right foot on Thursday. Milk Bar in SoCo District hosted a two room party with a stacked line-up. Milk Bar is separated into two rooms, and has a dungeon like feel. They are known for always hosting underground music and off-the-beaten-path type evenings. Decoded Magazine didn’t attend Thursday night’s event, but were told by those that did go that it was a great time. Talent included Andrei Morant, Uun, Muffintop and Falling Into Places. Local support included Maya Amack, Doc Noe and Seth Nichols.
On Friday, P.U.N.C.H.I.S, one of the best underground promoters in Denver, hosted GATF. P.U.N.C.H.I.S nights are hosted in the lounge at Beta Nightclub. Beta Nightclub is a great club with a fantastic sound system, and P.U.N.C.H.I.S events are always a great time to be had. With our GATF wristbands, we were able to attend and see some top talent. Tim Sullard had the crowd ready to go, after a super dark intro set.
Obstruct finished the night out strong with heavy techno sounds that everyone was grooving to in unison. Fortunately, the party wasn’t over after 2 a.m., and it was on to the main event! We showed up to Apex Movement unsure of what to expect. The website said it was a parkour gym, and the setup of the event reflected that. The walls were climbable, and the floor was mostly squishy gym mats. It was an interesting place, but awkward for an event. Each night, we had to sign a safety waiver absolving Apex any liability from harm that could happen to us. The other gripe with the venue was how far the location was from downtown, making it a necessary cab ride costing anywhere from $10-20 dollars, or a sober friend who could get you to the venue safely.
As our eyes adjusted to the dark room, I could see people grooving well into the wee hours of the morning. We didn’t stay long on Friday night, but from what we did see, we enjoyed. Friday hosted Blondes, Pittsburgh Track Authority, Avalon Emerson and Alala.One. The mood of the venue was unlike anything I have experienced before. Everyone at the event had one thing in mind: music. This is rare for many of the things I attend on a regular basis. Eyes were fixed on the DJ and the dance moves were never-ending. No part of the festival was obstructed by VIP, bottle service, kandi, or glow sticks. The event was 100% pure love for the music, and that is the kind of event I always strive to be at.
Saturday, The Bunker took over GATF and The Apex Movement. The energy was the same, with every person there for the music. I came in time to see Ulysses switch off to Mike Servito, which was really exciting to see. The transition between them was a bit rough, and for a second the music stopped. Everyone booed, but quickly resumed dancing as soon as it was fixed. The crowd was cheering, and they got back into their dance groove almost immediately.
We left the venue before sunrise, which was tough to do. It was tough to pull away from the event, because the sound was so on point. These types of events are rare in Denver. We do not often get to have parties that go into the wee hours, which even serve alcohol past the 2 a.m. time limit, so this was quite a treat. The event was busy, with people bustling in and out of the place.
In speaking with the founders of the event, it is clear that their brain child is a pure love that they are proud to put on in Denver. They are doing it solely for the music, which is why they continue to push the envelope and try harder for the audience that makes these types of events worth it. The audience for the Fourth Annual Great American Techno Festival is the type that John Templeton, founder of the festival, loves to play for when he DJs. These are the people who fell in love with techno for the right reasons, and are appreciative of the effort that goes into putting something like this on.
Despite the venue being a bit weird, I would say that Great American Techno Festival had another great year. If you are in Denver, make sure you check out this event. It’s worth a listen.