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Nero and Dillon Francis go hard at Red Rocks

Nero and Dillon Francis continued their progression from underground "jungle music" to arena rock Thursday night at Red Rocks, headlining the HARD Red Rocks festival.

Nero and Dillon Francis headlined the HARD Red Rocks festival on July 31.
Nero and Dillon Francis headlined the HARD Red Rocks festival on July 31.
Matt Farley
Nero and Dillon Francis headlined the HARD Red Rocks festival on July 31.
Matt Farley

Nero, which consists of Daniel Stephens, Joseph Ray and singer Alana Watson, are famous for the towering arcade machine DJ platform they bring to live shows. This time, it was a huge cassette deck, complete with As soon as the unit “booted up,” the crowd locked in and stayed that way for the next hour-plus.

The band’s obsession with house and disco grooves (“Must Be the Feeling;” “Reaching Out”) and decidedly un-dubstep respect for clean, sharp vocals worked perfectly in the live show, adding just enough of a rock concert vibe to keep the crowd focused on the two men making the music. Watson flickered in and out of the spotlight throughout the show, keeping the crowd guessing. Her first appearance, strolling without preamble to center stage just a few minutes into the set, was electrifying.

Earlier, Los Angeles-based producer Dillon Francis leaned hard into his "moombahcore" roots, showing off even more of his reggaeton influences. While pixel-art cats, hot dogs and ex-presidents boogied on the screen behind him, he threw down a steady stream of dubstep beats glossed with reggae party vocals. Though his one-man show seemed to overstay its welcome by about fifteen minutes -- let's face it, Francis's music is built for sweaty L.A. clubs, not the wide-open spaces of Red Rocks -- the visuals alone were enough to hold the crowd's attention.