Tag: The Hi-Dive
The Hi-Dive was abuzz with well-wishers and friendly faces on Friday night as Hello Kavita took the stage to celebrate an album 9-months in the making. The night played through with a variety of “feel-good” tunes and stellar performances.
Up first was It’s True!, an Omaha-based group with a strong grasp of dynamics. At certain points there was nothing except soft, beautiful melodies, however, within the same song grand crescendos swept over the stage and out into the crowd. Unlike most bands who shift quickly from quiet to loud, It’s True! managed to do so with a certain grace that was charming.
Hometown heroes Houses took the stage to further warm up the cozy room. Ripping through nearly every one of my favorite songs from their Spring and Summer EPs, they managed to pull off a solid set without a proper sound-check. Perhaps my favorite tune was a new song called “Scone.” As the set closer, this song started out very much like any other Houses tune, then dropped down and built up into an amazing climactic ending.
If you haven’t read my review of To A Loved One, go do that before reading this. As Hello Kavita started played through their set, each of the songs from that record came to life in a new and transcendent way. While the recorded version of To A Loved One maintains a certain warmth, its live counterpart embodied a heartfelt and moving form that cannot be recorded (even on analog tape).
As the set closed out, singer Cory Teruya invited Houses up to the stage for a lively rendition of Neil Young’s “Alabama.” It was probably one of the best things I’ve seen (and heard) in quite some time. Something Like Sound will be giving away one copy of To A Loved One at some point in the near future (once I can think up a non-lame contest)…
There is a sticky note that has been on the wall behind my desk since January. It simply says “Annuals, Feb 28, Hi-Dive, $10.” I can finally remove it, now that the anticipation of the coming concert has come and gone; the Annuals came to town and have now moved further along in their winter tour. The Saturday night show was another highly hyped show, receiving nods from Westword and The Onion. As I arrived at the Hi-Dive, the night of bluesy-folk-rock began.
First up was a group called What Laura Says, from Tempe, Arizona. Their music is best described in this way: Imagine the Beatles with their vintage guitars and keyboards. Now, make the fab-four into a quintet of long-haired jam-rocker types. Throw in some inventive percussion, add a touch of bluegrass and you’ve got the What Laura Says set from Saturday night.
Perhaps one of the highlights of the evening was the young and talented Jessica Lea Mayfield. On tour with a band that features her own brother on upright bass, the 19-year-old Mayfield is living the musician’s dream. Her sound is blues and folk, with some classic influences such as Buddy Holly. Playing through her set, Mayfield’s distinct soft voice reminded me of listening to a Billie Holiday record; it was so incredibly blue. Not only was her delivery blue, but so were her lyrics. Mixing in some old-fashioned country style with a touch of extra reverb, Mayfield had the entire house enthralled. As she left the stage I personally felt a little down from the blueness of the set, ready for some more upbeat tunes.
Finally it was time for the headliners. After missing their co-headline tour with Manchester Orchestra last year, I was
excited to finally see the Raleigh, NC, group in action. I will say that the Annuals certainly are an inventive bunch. After setting up the stage for the six-person band, the show began with all of the lights turning off. Suddenly colorful flashes of light filled the room as various parts of clear drum kits rigged with LEDs flashed in unison with the drumming. From there on out, the Annuals put on a spectacular set. Playing heavily from their latest release Such Fun, the Raleigh, NC, based-band churned out song after song, each with a bigger sound than the last. Singer Adam Baker was right on that night, hitting the notes with a passionate intensity. My personal favorites were “Brother” and “Confessor.” Overall, the Annuals unique indie-pop sound played well live, better than on their recordings.
The Appleseed Cast, a progressive post-rock band from Lawrence, Kansas, started out over 10 years ago. During the late 90′s The Appleseed Cast found themselves a part of the historic mid-west emo scene, grouped with the likes of The Get Up Kids and Sunny Day Real Estate. However, they are no longer even vaguely emo. Those familiar with the current national indie scene would not be far off to compare the group’s current sound to that of Explosions In The Sky. For those who don’t speak hipster, that means “heavily instrumental music with cutting edge rhythms, melodies, and harmonies.”
Expectations ran high last Saturday as The Appleseed Cast came to Denver to play at the Hi-Dive. A preview of the show ran in both Westword and The Onion, and was lauded as a highly recommended concert from both newspapers. Needless to say, there was an air of anticipation as things got underway at the Hi-Dive.
Now for the concert itself. Up first was a local group, Rabbit Is A Sphere. Their pop sound was catchy and tinged with occasional experimentation. The highlight of their set came when the group’s lead guitarist began using two slides to achieve a unique sound.
Following Rabbit Is A Sphere was the 1090 Club, a pop-indie group from Billings, Montana. The best way to describe 1090 Club is intense. Their piano and guitar driven songs were complimented by violin and a good mix of vocals.
Finally it was time for what everyone was waiting for: The Appleseed Cast. By this point in the night, the venue was packed (and I’m fairly certain that it was sold out). Ripping through song after song, they played for over an hour and a half, only stopping for five minutes to take a quick break. Focusing primarily on their newer material, The Appleseed Cast played songs from their 2006 release Peregrine and the newly released record Sagarmatha. The group’s intense and skillful delivery of “Here We Are (Family In The Hallway),” “The Summer Before,” and “Fight Song” stood out in a strong set.
What happens when you mix one of Denver’s best hipster bars with some of the best up-and-coming local musicians? The answer: last Friday’s Young Coyotes show at the Hi-Dive. I was first introduced to Young Coyotes during winter break, when I saw them open for the Hot IQs. Even then, I knew I wanted to hear more of their fresh style of music. Before I dive headfirst into a review, let’s start with a little background. In mid-2008, Atlanta based band Moros Eros broke up. A few months later Greeley, CO band The Axe That Chopped the Cherry Tree also called it quits. Zach Tipon and Adam Halferty, who had played and toured together in the above-mentioned bands, decided to start something new. Since then, Young Coyotes have been keeping busy touring and recording material for their upcoming release.
Critics, both local and national, have not let Young Coyotes go unnoticed. Most recently, they were featured in the January issue of Marquee magazine, a Denver music-scene guide, and back in December they recorded a session at Daytrotter, a famous recording studio and website that offers free mp3s of exclusively recorded sessions with some of the biggest names in indie. Needless to say, there was a certain air of excitement at the venue last Friday.
The one word I have used to describe the entire night is relaxed. Even from the first local band, The Wheel, the show played out like a bunch of old friends getting together for a party. The Wheel’s singer, Nathaniel Rateliff, played a reverb-drenched classical guitar while belting out deep, reflective lyrics with his unique baritone. He was backed up by Joseph Pope, who provided organ parts which provided the necessary bass and a polished sound.
Next up was another local group, Bad Weather California. Lead singer Chris Adolf’s intense delivery and Adam Baumiester’s pedal steel guitar work gave them a unique sound. Think Beach Boys meets Black Flag meets steel guitar. To be entirely honest, it would be difficult to accurately describe their sound, but there is one thing that is certain, they put on an entertaining performance.
Finally, it was time for Young Coyotes. They came out and began with one of their more popular songs, “Momentary Drowning.” From there, they played through a number of “older” tunes and new material. I use quotes when saying “older” because this is still an incredibly fresh group, they don’t really have any old songs, just ones that are already available via MySpace. They continued to play through their set, occasionally stopping to figure out which song to do next. Friends of the band shouted out for different songs as the set list wandered throughout the night. During the course of the show, Tipon announced that the group would release about 12 tracks sometime toward the end of February. As they tried to finish their set, the crowd asked for another song and the Young Coyotes delivered. Overall it was a great show, it was well mixed and featured what makes the Denver music what it is: real, talented musicians.
Music can be one of the truest forms of self-expression. A prolific songwriter has the ability to convey thoughts and emotions through song. Love, compassion, hope and healing were just a few of the driving factors that led Daniel Smith to begin his musical experiment known as Danielson. Smith, whose strong Christian roots and incredible personal story act as the backdrop for his songs, performed a stunning set at the Hi-Dive last Saturday.
The Hi-Dive has really started to grow on me. After seeing Ra Ra Riot there several weeks ago, I’ve begun to appreciate the cozy atmosphere, free water and excellent sound mixing. The entire night felt like a comfortable gathering of old friends. Ian Cooke, a Denver cellist and songwriter, started the evening with an amazing set. Not only was his instrumental performance nearly flawless, but his smooth voice hit every note. Cooke used a variety of looping effects to create multiple harmonies with himself, a real treat for the ears. At the end of his set, the crowd called for more songs and he extended his set, something I have never seen happen with an opening act.
Up next was Cryptacize, an indie-pop band from the Asthmatic Kitty record label. Their simple sound and comically small instruments made for a good show. Catchy hooks and flowing guitar riffs kept the music upbeat.
Finally, it was time for Danielson. Taking the stage in matching pilot’s uniforms, the seven members of Danielson filled the tiny stage at the Hi-Dive. “This song is a clap-along,” said Daniel Smith on multiple occasions throughout the show. In fact, there were clap-alongs, snap-alongs and sing-alongs; all of which got the audience involved and made the set enjoyable. Rather than trying to decode Smith’s religious undertones and unique falsetto, I sat back and enjoyed the show. To celebrate the release of the group’s recently released retrospective album, Danielson focused on playing their best material from the last ten years.
Playing through songs such as “Idiot Boksen” and “Flip Flop Flim Flam,” Smith and company performed with intensity and sincerity. Danielson ended their set with “Five Stars and Two Thumbs Up” before performing two more songs as an encore (including “Did I Step On Your Trumpet,” one of my personal favorite Danielson tunes). For their performance, I give Danielson’s Denver tour stop five stars and two thumbs up.
Edit: Full bootlegs of this concert are avaiable at http://www.theflatresponse.com
Video from the show: Idiot Boksen
Two weeks ago we ran a music review about an up-and-coming music act from Syracuse, New York, named Ra Ra Riot.
Coincidentally, Ra Ra Riot happened to be playing in Denver this last week. Their new album The Rhumb Line, recently released on Barsuk Records, has received excellent reviews from the likes of Rolling Stone and Spin Magazine and has potential to make this band the next big thing.
The Hi-Dive, a self-proclaimed “Indie Rock Bar,” is a cozy venue buried in the heart of southern Denver. What the venue lacked in size, it made up for in sound. Not only was the show well mixed, but also comfortably loud.
The first opening act, Pepi Ginsberg, was smooth and original. Her songs told stories about a variety of topics, including tides and escaped convicts. Inventive lyrics, coupled with Ginsberg’s distinct voice, made for an enjoyable opener.
Following Ginsberg was the experimental-electro-pop group Walter Meego. Armed with a plethora of vintage synthesizers, effects pedals, and drum machines, Walter Meego got the entire venue moving and dancing. They played with intensity and did not stop between songs.
Finally it was time for the headliner: Ra Ra Riot. Somehow the entire six-member band fit on the small stage and did not injure each other during the course of the night. As soon as their set started, they jumped right in to some of their most upbeat numbers. After playing through about three songs, they finally stopped to introduce themselves and then continued right on through their set.
Ra Ra Riot is still a fairly new band on the indie-pop music scene, and this was evident in the choice of set list. While most bands could go back years into their repertoire, Ra Ra Riot only has an EP and a newly released album of material. This fact, however, did not hamper the group as they played through almost every song they have released. Some of the highlights included a stunning rendition of “Winter ’05,” “Dying Is Fine,” “Ghost Under Rocks,” and my personal favorite “Too Too Too Fast” (which was performed with a good mix of synthesizer). Their recordings really do not do them justice, because the heavy hitting dance-beat drumming was really more prominent during their live set.
As their set came to a close, the crowd would not stop cheering. “Alright, we’ll save you the trouble of going off stage then coming back on again,” said singer Wes Miles. After a quick encore the night was over.