Archive for July, 2009
By the time you read this I will be cutting across the great plains of North America. I’m going to a wedding in Memphis (with a quick stop at Graceland). Posts will resume Monday or Tuesday next week.
In honor of the fine city of Memphis, enjoy a new track from Lucero’s 1372 Overton Park (a Memphis-soul/rock album out October 6)
Looks like Young Coyote Zach Tipton is up to something again. It seems that everyone has their own side-project, and Zach is not immune to the lure from such an outlet (for another side-project band I like, see Discovery, which is Wes from Ra Ra Riot and Rostam from Vampire Weekend). Further details are unavailable at this time, but you can check out his new MySpace (complete with a stream for a forthcoming EP). Click on the image to go there.
So we had a bit of a server synch error this morning and I lost all the work I did on the blog yesterday. Fortunately Google has a nifty “cache” feature that stores old data, so I rebuilt everything to almost exactly what it was. Either way, here’s what’s new for this week:
Akron/Family (July 31, Bluebird): With Laura Goldhammer and Achille Lauro, Akron/Family puts on an energetic and eclectic show. (See our review and video of their St. Pattie’s day show at the Oriental)
Houses Summer EP Release (August 7, Meadowlark, see poster below): Somehow this band only gets better.
Van’s Warped Tour (August 9, Invesco Field at Mile High): Something Like Sound will be covering the 15th annual Warped Tour as they make their way through Denver.
Rob Drabkin (August 28, Parfet Park, Golden): Opening for a movie, Rob’s playing on the first Friday after classes start back up. You won’t have anything else to do, so go to this free show.
Modest Mouse (September 2, Fillmore): I know what the scoffers are saying, “I don’t want to pay Fillmore prices for Modest Mouse!” well you don’t have to, check out this LiveNation/Subway promotion where you can get $5 tickets to tons of shows.
Built To Spill (September 20, Bluebird): Having just seen these guys tear it up at the Westword Music Showcase, I must say they are one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.
Monolith (September 12-13, Red Rocks): With the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Mars Volta headlining, this huge indie festival at a world-famous outdoor venue will likely go down as one of the best national festivals of the year.
Dinosaur Jr. (October 30, Aggie): I already did a long promo for this one, but it’s not sold out yet and that is unacceptable. These guys are legends of underground rock music and will certainly blast your brains our with sound.
The Underground Music Showcase: If you’ve been in a cave on the moon with your fingers in your ears for the last week, then check out our coverage of the 9th annual UMS. While you’re at it, look at our coverage of the Mile High Music Festival.
Michael Zapruder on Daytrotter: Click on the image to listen to new recordings of a few of his songs and an unreleased tune.
In addition to these links, I’ve added a bunch of new links to the sidebar, including quite a few Colorado-related music sites/blogs. For a good time, hit up Cause=Time, I Am Fuel You Are Friends, Fir Traders Union, and the Donnybrook Writing Academy.
Also remember we’ve got our Twitter contest still going, we’re 1/4 of the way there!
Alright, it’s time again for me to jump up on my soapbox and tell it like it is. Here’s my rundown of “the largest indie festival in the region” (as per their radio advertisements). Some of this stuff is entirely subjective and personal opinion, other bits deal with actual logistical things.
- The number of bands: There was never really a time when I couldn’t find someone who I wanted to see.
- Local businesses: Unlike other big festivals, this one took place in the heart of South Broadway, that meant no $10 slices of pizza or $500 beers (which is what you see at most other large festivals)
- The fans: I’m pretty sure that everybody at the UMS was there to have a good time, I didn’t meet any super-annoying people, and actually got to meet quite a few bands (who were fun people to hang out with).
- The price: I bought my wristband pre-sale, so I only paid $12 for 4 jam-packed days of fun. Even if you waited to buy a ticket at the door, the money was well worth it.
- The Denver Post people: Everyone I met from DP was incredibly nice and professional, very classy indeed.
- Lighting: As someone who had to be his own photographer, this was an issue just about everywhere I went. I remember the sets at The Hornet, Indy Ink, and the outdoor stage (later in the day) were especially, and needlessly dark (which made it incredibly hard to take pictures). Next year, in addition to getting nice sound equipment, spring for a couple of stage lights, it would be a vast improvement.
- The booklet: I know the Denver Post has to pay the bills on this thing, but placing the sponsor’s names in front of the venue names on the map key made it difficult to read. Furthermore, the list format for the weekend lineup was also a little ambiguous. Lance from The Flat Response made up a flowchart style schedule that was far more useful. Next year, make the booklet similar to the one from the Mile High Music Festival: half the size (so it fits in your pocket), and flowchart the lineup.
- Learn how to control the weather: I know this isn’t really possible, but I like sunshine more than clouds, and cool more than hot (and I want opposites that are mutually exclusive).
Well, that’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Overall it was quite an enjoyable week, and I anticipate next year will be even better.
If Saturday got me down, Sunday got me back up again. Although the clouds hung low in the sky and menaced us throughout the afternoon, the tired, hungover patrons (and bands) of the Underground Music Showcase refused to let it dictate how the day was going to go.
Upon arrival Jake and I headed down to TS Board Shop for The Pseudo Dates, a great upbeat group. Their set can best be described as a lively combination of punk, surf, and a touch of 80′s pop. It certainly put a smile on my face (both with their music and singer/bassist Suzi Allegra’s punk-rock sense of fashion).
From there I decided we had to see Hawks of Paradise. I had seen this group open for Akron/Family on St. Pattie’s day, and remembered it as a pretty good set. Well, their set at the UMS was definitely memorable (musically, their brand of rock music played well with the upbeat attitude I was forming). What came as a bit of a surprise was the end of their set, when they announced, rather nonchalantly, that the preceding songs were their last… ever.
Edit: I read on Reverb this morning that they might not actually be breaking up, way to go guys.
Jake missed the Houses set at the Hi-Dive on Friday night, so we stuck around the C*****s outdoor stage (that’s right, I’m independent, none of this sponsor-toting crap until I see some dollars rolling my way from you Cartoys). What I said about their Friday set can pretty much be applied to their Sunday set (especially since they were very similar, both were quite enjoyable and had fairly well sized crowd attendances).
We stayed a little longer at the outdoor stage to see friends-to-the-blog, 1090 Club. Their set was solid, but I felt a little bad because the crowd really thinned out (next time, Denver, next time support this band). Although I soon found myself walking over to catch Achille Lauro. I must say, they have a unique way of doing things: half the time they’ve got their synths and patches going, the other times they’re playing like a traditional 4-piece. Taken as a whole, I was definitely not bored, and had to stay on my toes to keep up with what was happening next.
After a quick stop by Persian Gourmet for some delicious falafel (my new favorite food; take note everyone who wants to buy me dinner), it was back to the main stage for what was shaping up to be an incredible set from Everything Absent or Distorted. Although this was another band that I had seen earlier in the festival, that certainly did not take any of the thunder out of their set.
Armed with a healthy variety of instruments (3 guitars, 1 bass, 1 accordion, 1 banjo, 1 drum-kit, 1 trombone, 2 keyboards, and various other random noisemakers), EAOD played one of the most ruckus sets I have ever seen; perhaps the word that best describes it: swashbuckling. A whiskey-fueled frenzy of energetic sound, EAOD did not go quietly into the night. As they finished their set, they decided to play another song, a cover of The National’s “Abel,” a fitting temporary closing (until they officially call it good in November).
“My mind’s not right”
At this point I was truly tired. The combination of my fatigue and the incredible set from EAOD had me convinced that it would be best to end on a high note. Stay tuned for a proper “Reflections on the UMS” post, complete with suggestions for next year’s festival.
Saturday was different. Not to say it was better or worse than another day, it was just gray (or grey, depending on how geeky you are). It almost felt like a different festival all together, the cloudy/rainy skies certainly had me feeling a bit more mellow than normal.
Upon arrival, Jake and I checked out the full-band John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light, but left soon after, because I had just seen John on Thursday (and the songs, while being full-band, were the same ones he had done solo-acoustic). We wandered over to South Broadway Christian Church to catch Elin Palmer & Kal Cahoone, and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was not another Palmer set (having seen her the night before), but an entirely different experience.
We continued wandering and soon found ourselves at the TS Board shop watching Bastards of Young finish their set, then ran in to Virgil from Suburban Home. He introduced us to In The Red, and their drummer Matt Glasgow (who Virgil claims is the “Tallest Drummer in the World”). After listening to some of their hardcore-punk-rock, it was time for something completely different.
Having seen The Wheel the previous night, I was eager to catch Joseph Pope III. Yet again we found ourselves mellowing out to his folksy guitar-based songs. Next up was Dressy Bessy, a band with lots of energy and danceability (although, as Lance from The Flat Response pointed out, the crowd wasn’t in to it, so things fell a little flat on that end).
As things at the outdoor stage finished up, it was time for one of my faves: Danielle Ate The Sandwich. The Hornet got pretty crowded as people crammed in to the limited space to hear Danielle play her unique ukulele songs. It was a thoroughly enjoyable set, complete with a few covers (I think I heard some Hall & Oates, and maybe some TLC). Danielle was her normal charming self and kept the crowd’s attention, even between songs.
It was out into the rain again to get down to Indy Ink for Mike Marchant (of Widowers). I knew that we were in a good place by the other people who were there watching (I’m pretty sure I saw some of Bela Karoli, and most of Houses, more on that in a bit). Mike’s songs, although mostly “slow/sad,” played well with the weather, and his more upbeat tunes were well appreciated. At the end of the set he invited his band mates from Houses to play “We’ll See The Sun,” and I can’t think of a better way to end a set.
By this point, I was beat. Staying out until 2am for two nights in a row makes even the young (and presumably strong) pretty tired on the third day. So we called it a night and headed home.
I really should title this post “Julie Davis: The Hardest Working Musician in Denver.” I swear, everywhere I went last night I couldn’t escape the bassist/lead singer from Bela Karoli. Turns out she started the evening with a solo set (I didn’t catch), then I witnessed her playing with Dan Craig, Bela Karoli (obviously), and The Wheel. Kudos to you Julie, it takes a real trooper to do what you did. Ok, now on with the review.
To begin, I took it a little easier today. I rolled in to the Baker neighborhood around 7:30 and tried to catch some of the Josephine & The Mousepeople set at Indy Ink. The bit that I stayed for was enjoyable, but the non-traditional space suffered from 2 things: Deafening the people in the front and obscuring the view of everyone else (other than that it was great). From there I wandered over to the Hi-Dive (which seems to be a black hole to me, I am continually drawn towards it, with no hope of escaping). I caught some of Dan Craig‘s set, then stuck around for Elin Palmer. Palmer is absolutely charming, from her eclectic instruments (pictured is a traditional Swedish folk-instrument), to her soft voice and songs in Swedish, I must say I enjoyed the set.
Next was Bela Karoli, with special guest Ian Cooke. As the night continued, the Hi-Dive seemed to get more crowded and hot with each set. I don’t believe they had to turn people away, but there was certainly not a spare place to stand for this avant-pop group. The set was solid (as usual), but the addition of an extra cello and a keyboard really rounded things out.
I overheard someone say “There’s only one band in Denver, but it has all of these different manifestations.” Agreed. About half the people from Bela Karoli were on stage to perform with The Wheel. It seems like every time I see The Wheel, their sets just get better (I attribute this, in part, to the fact that they’ve gone to a full-band lineup).
Finally it was past midnight and things started to dissapate slightly. However, I had waited all night to see my favorite local group, Houses. When I listened to their Spring EP, I was hooked: flowing melodies and feel-good tunes. Andy Hamilton & Co. were not the ones to dissapoint that night, as they played through a number of new songs (from their forthcoming Summer EP, out August 7). While I loved the Spring tunes they played, the Summer stuff was even better. Tighter guitar parts and dancability have been added to the Houses mix: let there be much rejoicing. By the time they finished it was past 1:30, it was time to go home.
Here comes the second, just like the first, a little bit louder and a whole lot worse.
Joseph Pope III (Rock The Cradle, 3 pm): I haven’t had a chance to catch his solo act yet, but I have enjoyed what he has added to The Wheel.
Elin Palmer (South Broadway Christian Church, 4pm): After seeing her play Friday night, I’m impressed (and also a little intrigued to learn more about Sweden). I might not show up to this one (since I did just see her), but you definitely should check it out.
In The Red (TS Board Shop, 5:30 pm): As a band on the local Suburban Home Records, I’ve heard alot about these guys, but haven’t heard them live yet.
Astrophagus (Hi-Dive, 6:30 pm): A band that combines beautiful and trippy soundscapes with guitar and trumpet. It’s like the ’59 sound remixed.
Wardens (Hi-Dive, 8:00 pm): I met the lovely ladies from Wardens Friday night, and I said I’d be there. Plus these girls came all the way from Brooklyn.
Danielle Ate The Sandwich (Hornet, 8:15 pm): Ukulele madness! You gotta love Danielle’s unique style
Dualistics (Skylark, 9:30 pm): Get ready to rock out, plus hear some new tunes from this group.
Bad Weather California (Hi-Dive, Midnight): Another excellent closer for the evening, Bad Weather will certainly not let Saturday go quietly into the night.
The Pseudo-Dates (TS Board Shop, 3:30 pm): Another band I met during the festival. These guys seem like a fun bunch, so why not check them out (what else would you be doing at 3:30 on a Sunday?)
Hawks of Paradise (Goodwill Parking Lot, 4:30): Last time I saw these guys was opening for Akron/Family, and I remember it being very loud (in a good way).
1090 Club (Goodwill Parking Lot, 6 pm): I already did a write up on these guys, read that.
Andrea Ball (Hi-Dive, 8:15 pm): I had “Beat Beat Pound” stuck in my head today (again), maybe she can get it stuck in yours too.
Bowerbirds (Hi-Dive, 10 pm): This group is making the trek all the way from North Carolina to croon us Colorado folk, don’t miss it.
Hey everybody, look! Spencer’s helping me out while he’s in Texas
My summer has me placed in the armpit of Texas where the local music scene appears to be as diverse as the monotonous, muggy weather. A nice bit of relief from the Texas country that is so prevalent (no offense) came from a band that strove from the beginning to be unique. The Epilogues, a fixture of the Denver music scene for the last few years, set out with a different take on music. Their combination of synth, guitar riffs, and dance beats has achieved and surpassed their goal of a new, different style that is just as good as it is separated.
The Beautiful, The Terrifying starts with arguably their best song. Unashamed of their synth melodies, the song, “King Arthur,” is driven by the varied, yet simple tune. The rest of the album falls close to “King Arthur” in tempo and instrumentation. Synth and the guitar mutually support each other in forming the backbone for The Epilogues. Both vary in tone, style, and strength with each song. While one or the other tends to fall into the background when most bands mix guitars and synth, The Epilogues manage to keep both equal. Vocally, The Epilogues are also rather unique. It takes a bit to get used to his lispy vocals, but it’s hardly noticed when you pay attention to the music.
Also, The Epilogues put on a lively show that should never be passed up. Their lively dance beats keep every song moving and fun.
Tim’s Note: Be sure to check them out at The UMS 7pm on Sunday at TS Board Shop.
There are not many Thursday nights I can remember that were as wild as last night. The big kick-off for the Denver Post’s 9th annual Underground Music Showcase was certainly a solid start for what is shaping up to be a good weekend (weekends start on Thursday, right?).
When I first rolled in to the Baker neighborhood, I strolled in to the Hi-Dive to catch Dan Kaufman Superstar Eruption, an almost indescribable mixture of imagery and improvisation. I stuck around to catch Cowboy Curse, a rock band with a straightforward style, and generous use of falsetto. I decided it was time for a change of scenery, so I wandered over to Michaelangelo’s Coffee & Wine Bar to catch John Common. The venue space played well with his acoustic set, although I am looking forward to seeing a little full-band-action from him this weekend.
As I entered the Hi-Dive, I caught the last few songs from Light Travels Faster, and I must say, they had the best outfits I’ve seen yet this festival. As far as their music is concerned, it was very intense, lots of yelling, rocking out, etc.
As Light Travels Faster wrapped up, the crowd began growing bunny ears; it must have been time for Rabbit Is A Sphere. The last time I saw these guys was opening for The Appleseed Cast, but last night’s set was different. Amidst the pretense that RIAS is going on hiatus, their set served as a bit of a temporary “good-bye,” it made every note hit a little deeper. Up next was Brooklyn, NY-based Kaiser Cartel. The folk duo was good, although perhaps a little too mellow for my demeanor (I really needed something rowdy to wake me up a bit at that point).
Everything Absent or Distorted is another Denver group that we won’t be seeing much of soon (however, unlike Rabbit Is A Sphere, these guys are calling it quits for good). That made their rambunctious set all the more memorable.
For the last set of the night I opted to stay where I was for Langhorn Slim (who had opened for Josh Ritter earlier in the evening). His folk-rockabilly sound, complete with upright bass, was a good way to end the night.