Fuck, 2016! That was the prevailing feeling for many people in our country as we lurched toward year’s end. So many beloved musicians died. There were bombings, searing police confrontations and there was the near apocalyptic collapse of democracies around the world. Many pundits included our country in that post-mortem.
But, I had personal reasons to feel disheartened to reflect on the year that was. My father’s memorial service was on my birthday. He died of brain cancer while my sister struggled with the awful pain and physical indignities of chemotherapy due to her diagnosis of cancer. Fuck 2016, indeed, I thought.
But sometimes better angels descend on us to reflect the better parts of our nature, bringing hope, laughter, and perhaps a little magic. And that is precisely what happened on New Year’s Eve in Denver, Colorado in a tucked away corner of the downtown business district. Sensi Mag, SOCO Nightlife and The Fantastic Hosts organization presented a dream-like reverie of music, dance, art, and joy at the year-end event, dubbed Higher Society at the City Hall venue.
The evening, intended as an ode to the medicinal quality of marijuana, community and creativity, quickly lifted spirits with an opening speaking/meet and greet with visionary artists Alex and Allyson Grey. Self-reflection quickly turned to celebration with a jolt of tribal rock rhythms and searing guitar jams from the Tierro Lee Band. The lilting melodies of Elephant Revival fiddler, Bridget Law gave an ethereal quality to the percussive jams. That joyful set alone quickly dispensed any lingering bittersweet feeling or antipathy regarding the passing year. Still the evening was only beginning.
Following on the main stage was the expansive beauty of Quixotic an impressive group that combines an astounding mix of aerialist/ fire/ music performances. Throughout the venue numerous other visual artists, and DJs performed, including Stööki Sound, Androcell, and Johnathan Singer.
The Grey duo led the New Year countdown as Random Rab began his crowd-pleasing bass-thumping set. Without the spectacle of confetti, balloons or champagne salutes, a group of musicians, performers, and artists offered a night to recall that even in the most troubled of moments there is always reason for hope. And there is always beauty, even in dimly-lit corners of reality.