Archive for July, 2010
It’s that time again. Time to go to a parking lot, be punk rock for a day, and avoid heat stroke. Summertime just wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for the Van’s Warped Tour which will be making its way to Chicago this Saturday (7/31) and Denver a week later (8/8). Having gone to several years of the Warped Tour, I can say that this year’s lineup has its gems. Here are a few of my picks.
Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band: I saw these guys for the first time last year at Warped, and it was definitely the highlight of the entire day. This punk-grass band is probably the most animated and entertaining of any on the tour; just be aware of flaming washboards.
Andrew WK: I think this photo of Mike Marchant and Mr. WK pretty much sums up why I’m going to see the Andrew WK set. It’s going to be a strange one.
Face To Face: Most of the kids at Warped this year probably won’t know Face To Face, but the group should not be missed. Back in the 90′s they were one of the more influential bands on the national punk scene, despite remaining less hyped than others (blink-182, Pennywise, NOFX, etc.). After breaking up in 2004, they recently reunited and are heading out on the Warped Tour trail.
Reel Big Fish: Year after year, ska bands remain a staple of the Warped Tour lineup. Last year saw Less Than Jake, Big D and the Kid’s Table and Streetlight Manifesto, while this year just has Reel Big Fish. I’ll be on the lookout for any group with a horn section so that I can get my ska fix.
The rest: There are quite a few bands that are veterans of the tour. Among the groups that I never miss are: Alkaline Trio, Pennywise, and Sum 41. I’m also planning on catching I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business, a side project of Ace Enders, lead singer from the defunct group The Early November.
I will be covering the Tinley Park (Chicago) date of the tour, so expect to see photos, reviews and interviews next week in advance of the Denver date.
Friday night’s festivities began a little earlier than Thursday’s, and before 7:00pm hit, we were at the Goodwill Parking Lot stage to see blog favorite Danielle Ate the Sandwich. Her set was different than any other set we’d seen her play; sometimes-present band member and double bass player Dennis joined Danielle on stage, as well as a new addition, violinist Chris. While this has been the standard line-up since her new CD came out in early July, it was the first we’d seen of it. The addition of violin and bass added new layers to the music, and, musically, it was possibly the best DAtS show we’d ever seen. However, the awkward charm so often present in previous shows was lessened with the addition of new musicians. Still, things like a cover of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance along with great new songs made this a fun and charming way to start day two of the UMS.
We briefly walked across the parking lot to see Paper Bird’s second set of the weekend. They were much more at home outdoors, and the few songs we heard were fun and got the modest crowd excited. Having seen most of the songs they played the night before, we went to the TS Board Shop stage to see Accordion Crimes. The group was, as always, incredibly tight. Last time we saw them, some technical issues plagued their set. Those issues being gone greatly added to the performance.
We went next to the Hi-Dive to see, we thought, Kaiser Cartel. However, despite the indication of the UMS pamphlet, Kaiser Cartel was not playing, Dust on the Breakers taking their place (it should be noted that the UMS website noted this change and signs were posted near the box office). Despite the change in bands, it was very enjoyable to hear this band we’d previously not seen.
When 9:00pm hit, we returned to the Goodwill parking lot to see John Common and the Blinding Flashes of Light. The last time we saw this group, it was a super-intense performance. This time, however, was much more relaxed. Still a good performance musically, it lacked the passion we’d come to expect from this band. As such, we wandered back up Broadway, and were immediately attracted to the unrealistically loud music blaring out of Rock the Cradle. Lil’ Slugger (the only band with its own comic book that we know of) was sending its pseudo-punk sounds for at least a block in every direction. While the extreme volume was a good addition to the style of music, the music could have stood on its own. We spent as long as we could in the area before our eardrums burst, and before we knew it, 10:00pm had come.
While The Knew was playing at the Hi-Dive, the huge line coming out of the venue inspired us to find some new groups we’d never heard. As such, we headed down to the Skylark to see Pink Hawks. The crowd was up an moving at this lounge-roots group; while not our favorite type of music, it was obvious that the group was good at what they did. After a few songs, we did some browsing, stopping by each of the venues we passed. Doing this let us catch a song or two by Chris Adolf (of Bad Weather California), Story of the Sea, and Lion Sized. While none of these acts were mind-blowing, the ability to see better-than-average music every few steps was among my favorite parts of the UMS. Any time there wasn’t a group I particularly wanted to see, I could simply walk in a venue in search for a new band to love.
With the line to the Hi-Dive still too long to see These United States (and, eventually, Houses), we wondered around Broadway for a few hours, catching bits and pieces of some spectacular sets. These included Git Some, Hoots and Hellmouth, the Outfit, TaunTaun, and Coles Whalen. Finally, after a number of great sets and a musical break, we wondered into the Mayan Theater for the Nathan & Stephen reunion show. The show was supposed to start around 12:30, which is when the lobby of the Mayan started filling up. However, Houses was playing with two members of Nathan and Stephen. Finally, after a set by local comedian/musician Magic Cyclops, and well after 1:00am, the band took the stage. The high-energy set was well worth the wait. The group played a full set, and ended after around 2:15, but the audience and band seemed to want to keep going forever. This set was the perfect end to the first two nights of the UMS and got us extremely excited for the weekend stretch of the festival.
Somewhere between shoe-gaze and surf sits Candy Claws, a Fort Collins dream-pop band that has garnered national attention with their recent tour and newest record Hidden Lands.
Similar to the group’s previous record In the Dream of the Sea Life, the new disc was inspired, in part, by a book: Richard M. Ketchum’s The Secret Life of the Forest. I used the phrase “in part,” because the band’s own personal experiences living on the cusp of the Rocky Mountains also had a role to play in inspiring a record full of ambient dreamscapes and ethereal melody.
Hidden Lands is one of those records that can be approached in two ways: active listening or passive enjoyment. At the time of this review I have listened to this album at least 7 or 8 times and each experience has been different. Initially it was all fresh; previously unknown sounds floated through the room. Upon repeat listening I became cognizant of the whispery lyrics and finer details.
A certain ebb and flow winds its way through the songs; some are long, slow considerations of time (“In the Deep Time”) while others pulse with the life of natural things such as sunlight or trees (“Sunbeam Show” and several others).
In the end, there are certain tracks that stand out for one reason or another. “Sunbeam Show” has its majestic chorus theme and “The Breathing Fire” has spacey synth and surf beats that sound like The X-Files meets Pet Sounds. “Sun Arrow” rounds out my shortlist of best tracks on Hidden Lands because it has a great part where plucked strings transition into fuzzed out guitar.
Hidden Lands comes out August 3 via twosyllable records. CD and LP versions of the album can be pre-ordered via the twosyllable webstore and the track “Sunbeam Show” can be streamed/downloaded below (via P4K). For more Candy Claws click here.
I remember seeing Bad Weather California for the first time. They were opening for Young Coyotes back in January 2009 and I didn’t know what to make of them. Were they surf? Were they punk? Or, were they something else? After seeing them a few more times I’m still not sure how to classify them except by saying that they have one of the best live sets in Denver.
I picked up their CD Young Punks and it made its way into standard rotation on my iPod. While it is a good album, I always felt that the recordings didn’t really do proper justice as far as their live set was concerned. Fortunately for me, and anyone else seeking a more energetic and less-polished recording of Bad Weather California, the group recently released an EP of live jams called… you guessed it, Live Jammers.
Recorded back in March, when the band was unable to tour due to inclement weather, Live Jammers possesses the attitude, sound, and feel of a live set. It’s got a few standards (“I Don’t Know” always gets stuck in my head) and some new tunes that will presumably appear on a new full length (which will be produced by members of Akron/Family).
Perhaps the best part is that this EP is a free download. So hop over to the Bad Weather California Bandcamp page and get this release!
Day one of the UMS is always a little more relaxed than the rest of the festival. Only 8 venues featured music Thursday night (compared to 22 on Friday, 24 on Saturday, and 15 on Sunday) and shows didn’t start until 8:00pm. Even so, it was one of the most eventful and exciting Thursday nights I’ve had in recent memory. Despite staying between Ellsworth Ave and Cedar Ave (read: between the Hi-Dive and the Skylark) the whole night, I managed to catch at least segments of 8 or 9 (mostly great) sets and explore the wonderful Baker neighborhood; It was a great way to start one of Denver’s best weekends.
I started off my night at the Skylark Lounge for Fort Collins’s Sour Boy, Bitter Girl. This indie-folk band performed really well, and was a good start for the UMS – a local band who shows their passion for music each time they play, reminiscent of all the great local bands performing this weekend. After the FoCo group, I strolled to the Hi-Dive to see the solo act of Jeremy Messersmith. Messersmith started off his set playing acoustic guitar and singing over a recorded drum beat. His relaxed tunes at times channeled Neil Simon.
After 4 or 5 songs of Messersmith, I decided to head back to the Skylark and check out FoCo band Paean. This group was very intriguing; featuring occasionally non-standard instruments (at one point, there were 3 guitars, a violin, and a bass on stage), the band made a lot of noise. They created brilliantly-structured soundscapes, and filled the Skylark with their avant-rock sounds. I when Paean had finished, I stuck around for Good Evening Titan. Their bright and poppy melodies were another great addition to the night’s shows. I had never heard this group before, but am looking forward to seeing their dancy and upbeat guitar and synth-driven music again.
Next, I ventured back to the Hi-Dive for Shapes Stars Make!, a band from Texas which gave my favorite set of the night. The group draws easy comparison to Explosions in the Sky, if Explosions occasionally sang. Despite their similarity, watching the intensity with which they played was fantastic. I was very sad when they stopped play, after having only heard a few of their songs.
Because Shapes Stars Make! had finished a bit earlier than expected, I was able to catch The Swayback at 3 Kings Tavern. The venue was packed, filled with fans who fully appreciated the energetic punk-rock sounds of the group. After a few songs, however, their set was also over, and it was back to the Skylark for SLS-favorite Candy Claws.
I’ve seen Candy Claws a number of times this summer, heard reviews from friends of their recent sets in Chicago and Somerville, MA, and each time it seems like their a different – but better – band. The dream-pop landscapes they produce are joyous and relaxing, and it seems like they’re finally getting their due. The Skylark was absolutely packed with people eager, and pleased, to hear FoCo’s newest buzz band.
After a great Candy Claws set, we stuck around for Roger Roll. Eric Peterson (who will have played at least 5 sets when the UMS ends on Sunday and receives the honor of Denver’s hardest working musician) fronts this band, which also features Corey Teruya (of Hello Kavita) on bass and a viola and cello. We saw Roger Roll not too long ago at the Hi-Dive, where potential for brilliance was obvious, with the performance not quite matching the song-writing. At the Skylark, however, the group was much more cohesive and the beautifully-written lived up to their promise. It’s exciting to hear such deliberately well-crafted songs, and I’m looking forward to more Roger Roll music in the future.
Finally, it was back to the Hi-Dive for one last band – Paper Bird. As always, this Americana band is fun to listen to and a joy to see live. The Hi-Dive at midnight, however, wasn’t the sort of place where they really shine through. So, after a long first day at the UMS, I ventured back to Golden after 4 or 5 Paper Bird songs, excited to hear them again later on Friday.
Words and photos by Jake Rezac. More coverage from the UMS to come…
via Rande Kamolz
This will be brief, but still necessary (especially since I said I would write about “how” to do the UMS).
EAT: One of the best parts of The UMS is that it’s in a neighborhood. There’s no inflated music-festival economy with outrageous prices on food. Some of my picks for good eats in Baker include Persian Gourmet and, of course, Sputnik. If you can swing getting in to Sputnik between 11pm and 1am, they’ve got a great food-happy hour.
DRINK: Last year I think I drank so many Fuze fruit drinks that my body chemistry was permanently changed. Whoever the sponsors are, they’re pretty gung-ho about getting their products inside you. I don’t know if they’re doing it again this year, but Indy Ink had a keg and Hi-Dive (and most of the other bars) had UMS drink specials (mostly relating to the alcohol sponsers).
BE MERRY: You heard me, have fun. If you can manage to skip out on your other responsibilities go for it! This will ensure that you will have plenty of time to eat, sleep, and see bands.
“I feel like reviews are going to be written about this song,” said Candy Claws front man Ryan Hover before the group dove in to their set’s finale, “Lantern Fish.” After all, the sold-out show was an official after party location for the Pitchfork Music Festival. Coming on the heels of being featured a couple times on the Chicago-based music-blog-giant, there were expectations that had to be met.
Jumping back to the beginning of their set, the side conversations humming through The Empty Bottle became hushed as “Sunbeam Show” basked the venue in dreamy sound. From there it was a beautiful and hypnotic experience.
The Chicago date of Candy Claws’ “Eternal World Tour” came just days after the group was dealt an unfortunate loss. While driving on I-76 through Pennsylvania, one of their cars caught fire, consuming much of their gear, merch and possessions. They have been pressing on, playing the remaining dates with borrowed equipment.
Having seen them before (and being quite familiar with their recorded works), I feel it sufficient to say that Candy Claws sounded like… well, Candy Claws. Being able to perform under the given circumstances and maintain such a positive outlook and cohesive sound has definitely brought this group up a notch in my book.
Bird Talk (a local Chicago group) and Best Coast (a surf pop trio from L.A.) also played that night. Both groups were enjoyable, though definitely not of the same ilk as Candy Claws. Bird Talk reminded me of The Beach Boys mixed with a little Jan & Dean (with more attitude); while Best Coast was just a really solid indie-pop-rock band.
Candy Claws still needs your help to recover from their car incident. Please consider donating here.
This is another video from the Candy Claws show last weekend. I finally got around to sorting and editing photos, so expect to see those soon. The song is “On The Bridge” a new tune from Hidden Lands, out August 3.
By the time Sunday rolls around chances are you’re going to be on the verge of passing out from exhaustion. Drink some coffee and cram down another slice of cheap pizza, it’s time for the final set of SLS picks for the UMS.
SUNDAY, JULY 25
Hello Kavita (Goodwill parking lot, 4:30pm): 2009′s To A Loved One was one of my favorite records of the year (regardless of the fact that Hello Kavita is a local group). Catch their set if you dig Wilco, Neil Young, or the like. Edit: As pointed out in the comments, Hello Kavita is going on hiatus following this performance, so don’t miss it!
Tjutjuna (Hi-Dive, 6pm): Spacey and loud, Tjutjuna will have you coming back for more. This group recently released a record called Conch Shell for free via their blog.
Old Radio (Club 404, 7pm): If shoegaze is your thing, then don’t miss Old Radio. They’re a bit of a local super group with a veritably stacked lineup. Unfortunately they’re not the only ones to see at 7.
Arliss Nancy (Skylark, 7pm): Another group from Fort Collins making their mark on the scene in Denver, Arliss Nancy has a raw sound that’s just as country as it is rock-and-roll (and perhaps a little punk too).
The Jim Jims (Club 404, 10pm): She’s drunk, you’re horny; why not have some fun and see The Jim Jims? Their set at Patrick Kelly’s apartment party was a highlight of one of the best parties I went to last year.
Woodsman (Hi-Dive, 11:55pm): Sometimes they’re spacey and ambient; sometimes they’ve got a driving tribal beat. Woodsman always manages to keep things fresh, something Pitchfork recently picked up on (but we’ve been talking about for months already). Also, their set is the last one of the entire week’s festivities, so if you haven’t passed out yet, it would be a good idea to go.
Just like the last post, this is who I would suggest seeing at the UMS. Note that some of these bands play more than once, so there is ample opportunity to see them. Others, however, only play once, so give them priority. The full lineup is available here.
SATURDAY, JULY 24
Eleanor (Michelangelo’s, 3pm): As one of those groups with a large, orchestral feel, it’ll be interesting seeing them play in a small space like Micelangelo’s. If it’s all packed out, Houses is playing the Goodwill lot at the same time.
Jim McTurnan & The Kids That Killed The Man (Hi-Dive, 5pm): Jim and the Kids have gained some national attention (including a spot at CMJ) while figuring out how to be a 3 piece. However, cameo appearances from other local musicians are not entirely out of the question.
Tea Cozies (TS Boardshop, 6pm): I recall seeing Seattle’s Tea Cozies at Everyday Joe’s several years ago, maybe it’s time to give them another listen. Also, if you’re going to be stuck in Ft. Collins on July 23 they are playing at Road 34 with Kaiser Cartel (see previous UMS preview post) and Fierce Bad Rabbit.
Hideous Men (Indy Ink, 6:30pm): If you haven’t seen anything experimental by Saturday afternoon then you’re doing the UMS wrong. Rectify that situation with Hideous Men (and while your at it, help them out since their gear was just stolen. Night of Joy is playing a benefit show for Hideous Men July 31 at the Megahouse).
American Tomahawk (Illiterate Magazine, 7pm): If Young Coyotes and The Photo Atlas had a baby it would literally be American Tomahawk. However, don’t expect anyone in this group to be playing their normal instruments.
Consider The Raven (Moe’s BBQ, 11:55pm): Just for total transparency, I am personal friends with the Consider The Raven folks. However, that doesn’t diminish the fact that you should see them close out the night at Moe’s. Just like Friday’s final time slot, there are a few other great ways to finish Saturday: Ukulele Loki (Mayan), Dualistics (Club 404), or The Pirate Signal (The Import Warehouse).