House music debuts at The Lariat

With last week’s beats from DJ Uriah West at The Lariat and the coming week’s beat invasion of international party-master Mikey Thunder, there is little need to travel for any of the Ark Valley’s dance-inclined.

Seasoned pro Thunder arrives on Friday, May 18, at 9 p.m. to light up The Lariat with huge house music swells that will zero in on our valley vibe. Though house music has inherited the mainstream dance world since its acknowledged beginnings in Chicago in the late ’70s, the sprinkling of Ark Valley events at which to truly and primally dance have never amounted to much more than a Salida rain shower (never really hitting the ground.)

House music, for those unfamiliar, derives its name from The Warehouse, a Chicago club that was home to Frankie Knuckles, a DJ who took elements of funk and soul and updated the tired disco rhythms and vamps of the day with a fresh heat, giving thousands of party-goers a new reason to leave the house and leave everything on the dance floor.

Knuckles and early house pioneers produced a more beat-centered and sensual art form that set dance styles free, giving people music that just simply moved them. Socially, house music formed a much broader, accepting umbrella for the subcultures of Chicago nightlife and thus spread quickly to present day, where house DJs can attract hundreds of thousands of revelers of all backgrounds to single events all over the world.

In this tradition, most of the big party DJs in Denver and beyond, equipped with turntables, digital samplers and drum machines, and usually some synthesizer elements, painstakingly pull big beats together with hooks, riffs and hits from the best music in their ever-growing collections.

Thunder has his own kit of spices with effects and precision cross-fades that create an envelope of sound and a wild ride. He prides himself on improvisation and “working the vibe of the party,” says his Jambase bio. Thunder has used 20 years of huge crowds to perfect his show.

Spinning hip-hop records in New England in the ’90s, surrounded by a burgeoning jam-rock scene, Thunder began shaping his approach to crowd appeal. Moving to the mountains of Wyoming for adventure, Thunder was scooped up by Michael Franti and Spearhead for their Stay Human Tour, and his ability to synthesize accessible and universal hip-hop beats with many other musical genres and a fuller festival culture has put him on stages from Red Rocks to Amsterdam.

He has shared bills with Pretty Lights, Bassnectar, The Glitch Mob, The Disco Biscuits, Lettuce, SoulLive, Jurassic 5, The Motet, Big Boi of Outcast and many more. Thunder is not snooty red-velvet-rope, finger-dancing, tight-pants club music. He is warm, soulful, happy, funky surprising and still familiar. Everyone in the Ark Valley who likes to dance like no one is watching will want to rejoice now that The Lariat has turned a top-shelf eye toward the dance party.