Oh the subjectivity! Trying to decide on my favorite shows from the last few years is truly a difficult proposition. For this post I’m just going to talk about shows that were not a part of bigger festivals. These shows serve as a sampling of events that had such an impact that I can still remember them today.
Hot IQs – Farewell show at The Bluebird – June 19, 2009: The first Denver band I ever got in to was Hot IQs. I would listen to them on KCSU in Fort Collins when I was in high school. I saw them a few times before their farewell show, and every time was something special. Their at-capacity grand finale at the Bluebird was no exception: burlesque dancers, a Cookie Monster costume, and some of the catchiest pop-rock this city has ever known.
Hot Congress Prevue – Patrick Kelly’s Apartment – October 16, 2009: Pulling up to the ill-kept apartment building on Pearl St. had me second-guessing my choice to go downtown until I got inside and experienced the wild house party thrown by Hot Congress. That night introduced me to a bunch of great acts: Old Radio (now Amazing Twin), Night of Joy, the Jim Jims, and Fissure Mystic.
Everything Absent or Distorted – Farewell show at the Bluebird – October 24, 2009: I cannot remember a more raucous, energetic, and ultimately melancholy show than EAoD’s last big gig. Playing through every song they had ever written (and then some), the 11+ members of EAoD kept going until nearly 3 am.
Brand New – The Fillmore – January 30, 2010: Another throw back to my high school years, Brand New has always had a special place in my music library. As I grew up my tastes changed and Brand New changed along with them. No longer an emo-troupe, they brought their newer style of manic Lonesome Crowded West-inspired music to the Fillmore in a set that celebrated the new while appreciating the old.
Tjutjuna & Fissure Mystic – 7″ Split release at Meadowlark – February 5, 2010: Apart from Dick Dale (king of the surf guitar), the loudest show I have ever been to was Tjutjuna at the Meadowlark. With Woodsman and Fissure Mystic opening, it was certainly a night of intense psych the likes of which I have seldom seen replicated.
Julian Lynch – The Low Key – May 20, 2010: On an unassuming street in north Fort Collins sat a rather normal looking house. This was no ordinary house, it was the residence of Matt Sage who had dubbed it “The Lowkey.” During his time there Matt hosted shows for the underground and experimental alike. I happened to be in Ft. Collins one summer when Julian Lynch came through for a set of experimental tunes. I still remember sitting in that basement taking in the sound and color.
Denver Does Denver 2010 – August 28, 2010: It was fitting that my return from Chicago was marked by a showcase of Denver music and art. Hearing Safe Boating is No Accident take on Pee Pee, Pink Hawks doing Bad Weather California, and the Flobots performing Hot IQs made this an unforgettable event.
Sufjan Stevens – The Paramount – November 2, 2010: Last fall was undoubtedly the hardest academic semester I ever undertook. This had me feeling down on most things, concerts included. Fortunately I was lifted out of my funk by the prolific Sufjan Stevens. This performance helped me realize how magnificent The Age of Adz really is.
Hello Kavita – Farewell show at the Hi-Dive – December 28, 2010: Of all the times I saw Hello Kavita, this one was my favorite. Not only did Roger, Roll open (it was their farewell show too), but Hello Kavita played one of the fullest sets I can recall. From old and new originals, to Steely Dan covers, and a mash-up of “Colorado” with Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al,” it was Hello Kavita at their best.
Bad Weather California – Rhinoceropolis – February 18, 2011: I will close with this show, because it stands as a harbinger of things to come. While I only went to the Rhinoceropolis a few times during the life of SLS, I was always impressed by the nature of the place: it is a venue that encourages innovation. Bad Weather California has played the warehouse space more times than most, and as the group prepares for the release of their new full-length I can’t help but wonder where they’ll go and what kind of audience they’ll reach.
The first thing you’ve probably got to say about this post is “Take it easy on the acronyms, we can only take so many ‘nyms you know.” Yes, I do know, so I will explain:
SBiNA: Safe Boating is No Accident (possibly one of the best band names in Denver)
BWC: Bad Weather California (although I don’t think they actually have bad weather in California)
NoJ: Night of Joy (yeah, nothing to coy or sly to say here, maybe they’re just musicians who are happy and play at night)
In any case, last Friday found me in 5 Points for my biannual trip to Rhinoceropolis (it seems that I only make it down there about twice a year, it’s not intentional though). The lineup for the evening was an entirely local showcase of bands I hadn’t seen in a few months. Safe Boating kicked off the night with a few songs from their record Isn’t It Fun. At this point in the review I’m going to send you away to read a write-up from Leighton Peterson’s “mom” (click here, it’s quite the entertaining read, but come back when you’re done please).
Bad Weather California was next and had (what I would consider) the best set of the night. The group recently returned from recording a new full length in Detroit with members of Akron/Family and their enthusiasm for the new material showed. A sampling of new and old songs kept people dancing in the smoky room as Chris Adolf & Co. pulled out jammer after jammer. It was really excellent to see this group playing in their prime.
The last band I stuck around to see was punk trio Night of Joy. Their high-energy, raw power style kept everyone moving and moshing around even though the clock had already passed 1 am. Their set was a collection of original songs capped off with an cover of Nirvana’s “Radio Friendly Shifter Unit” that kicked and screamed off into that good night.
The release show for Slugger Comics #1 was a night of raw energy. The small warehouse venue-space at Rhinoceropolis was packed out and pulsing with each beat.
The Good Old Fashioned Sinners, who had been on a hiatus of sorts, reunited for the evening, bringing with them a healthy dose of volume. The core of their set was definitely driven by intricate and intense drumming and a generous amount of synthesizer.
Hot White played one of the most punk sets I have ever witnessed. The high-energy trio was raw and kicking, not taking crap from anybody. In fact, at the end of their set, someone in the crowd started yelling for another song. Their response: throw a can of beer at the bastard.
Lil’ Slugger really played up their comic book release by wearing paper cartoon masks and outfits similar to how they are drawn in Slugger Comics #1. In addition to their outfits, they also had a walrus and squid along for the ride. Their musical set itself was a mixture of art, rock, and occasional dancing. As a fun bit of trivia, guitarist/singer Joey Wiley (pictured above in red) is a fellow CSM student and more living proof that engineers can, in fact, be quite musical.
To see a full photo gallery click here.
Every single day I get ~20 emails from publicists and bands telling me about their new album or tour. It’s always the same: “Hi we’re _____ and we just released our album _____ on iTunes, etc.” It is not very often that I get invitations to comic book releases in warehouse spaces. Lil’ Slugger, of the Hot Congress collective, just so happens to be releasing a comic book this week at Rhinoceropolis. Slugger Comics #1 is the first in a four part series of books the group plans on releasing throughout the year and will be available at their show on May 22.
In addition to the comic book, they’ve also made their entire discography available as a free download. The collection of songs titled Super Sweethearts The Complete Lil’ Slugger and is available by clicking on the album art below.