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Communikey / Boulder, Colorado / April 25 - 28, 2013

After an unseasonably cold winter and spring in Toronto, the opportunity to visit the sun-soaked, idyllic mountain town of Boulder, Colorado, and the chance it offered to reconnect with friends from across the continent's electronic music scene was too good an opportunity to miss.

Unlike the experience of larger festivals such as Montreal's Mutek or Seattle's Decibel, Communikey offers its attendees a more informal and less harried pace of workshops, performances and art happenings, choosing to focus on a singular programming path that allows one the chance to explore the town's cultural hotspots, take in it's fantastic restaurants or relax with friends. It is the latter, social aspect, reflected in this year's programming theme, "Hello, Stranger" that makes the festival stand out amongst its peers.

"Communikey is amazing. The people behind it are even more so." noted one of my close friends, underscoring the almost familial feeling of the festival, which draws approximately 300-400 attendees from not only North America, but across the globe.

Of course the convivial atmosphere wouldn't be nearly as charming were it not for the Comnmunikey's adventurous programming that brings together the international avant-garde as well as local and regional performers.

Festival highlights included Clown & Sunset label boss Nicolas Jaar, for his experimental From Scratch collaboration with Will Epstein, reprised for the first time since its premiere at New York's MoMa at the gorgeous Etown Hall. While the show began with an orderly assembly in the converted church, Jaar and Epstein's jazz infused house music soon had everyone standing up and dancing.

Saturday's performance in the equally beautiful Oddfellows Hall featuring Oakland producer and Full Spectrum label owner, Andrew Weathers, also delivered strong. His beautiful, folk-infused experimental vocals with looping guitar patterns set the stage perfectly for the consistently brilliant post-rock drones of Mountains, whose A/V performance both mesmerized and amazed.

Going deeper into the evening programming, Cio D'or stole the show at the Form & Function late night after party. Her deep, minimal approach inspired more than one psychedelically enhanced dancefloor freakout.

Last but not least, Derek Plaslaiko's amazing 6 hour DJ set in the fantastically sunny, Boulder Central Park capped off a truly wonderful festival experience. Spinning everything from the soft shoegaze of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine to more contemporary indie offerings like Beach House. Plaslaiko crafted a masterful journey by gradually moving into Detroit staples such as DBX's iconic Losing Control and ending with a buoyant Larry Levan edit of Yaz's Situation. The Detroit born, now Berlin based DJ demonstrated not only the depth of his seemingly bottomless record crates but also delivered a set which perfectly demonstrated the inclusiveness and welcoming nature of the festival itself.

In all Communikey serves as a perfect reminder in these days of overcrowded headlining bills and corporately sponsored mega-raves, that the charm and strength of electronic music communities, lays with great music, bonds of friendship and fun vibes. While the festival might have welcomed us with "Hello Stranger" it was impossible to leave with out saying "Goodbye Friend."

*edited by Andrew Lochhead

Thursday, April 25th

Boulder theatre sign

Boulder - Downtown

Ivy + Bones

Friday, April 26th

Data Garden

Roy England


Masaki Batoh's Brain Pulse Music

Brandon Brown

Safety Scissors

DJ Stingray

Saturday, April 27th

Nicolas Jaar + Will Epstein

Radere, Andrew Weathers + offthesky

Radere + Andrew Weathers

Odd Fellows Lodge Crowd


Steffen Bennemann

Cio D'or

Nordic Soul

Sunday, April 28th

Derek Plaslaiko

Central Park

Spoolius Mélange

Central Park