Monthly Archives: November 2009

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Pixies @ the Fillmore Auditorium (Day 1) – Reverb

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Charles Thompson IV, AKA Black Francis, AKA Frank Black, led Pixies through a triumphant telling of the "Doolittle" album last Monday night, and the young crowd loved it. (Photo: Joe McCabe/Reverb)

Charles Thompson IV, AKA Black Francis, AKA Frank Black, led Pixies through a triumphant telling of the "Doolittle" album last Monday night, and the young crowd loved it. (Photo: Joe McCabe/Reverb)

If you were a young adult anywhere near the “alternative” music scene in 1989 when the Pixies’ “Doolittle” album was originally released, you remember its buzz. This was no “ordinary” record, and it came from a decidedly un-“ordinary” band, at least for their time. Its significance has more than survived the test of time, which is exactly why the band was at the Fillmore Auditorium on Monday night to perform the whole damn thing — along with some subsequently released B-sides from around the same time.

If you were there, you’ve likely noted all of Pixies’ progeny — all those bands that call Pixies’ easy beauty their own style.

And even if you weren’t — like better than half the crowd Monday night, maybe you were more into Teletubbies or Barney than Black Francis or Kim Deal back then — chances are you still have a pretty good idea of their lasting influence… whether you know it or not.

Catch the entire review on Denver Post Reverb, and Sam Deleo’s review of the second show HERE!


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Mason Jennings, Nathaniel Rateliffe & the Wheel @ the Bluebird Theater – Reverb

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Mason Jennings played an excitingly surprising set at the Bluebird last Wednesday night. (Photo:     )

Mason Jennings played an excitingly surprising set at the Bluebird last Friday night. (Photo: Evan Semón)

You might think that Mason Jennings’ decision to become a member of Jack Johnson’s Brushfire label family would be an iffy move for the fiercely independent singer-songwriter that he is, and whether the association would soften his style. I did, until I saw him play at the Bluebird last Friday night. I was certain I would be subject to a too-clean, pop-folky string of bouncy, happy tunes, the ilk of which build up the majority of Johnson’s oeuvre. Not so. Jennings remains a strong, almost surly and unabashedly political songwriter, with more in common with Paul Westerberg or Elliott Smith than the lighthearted crooner.

Catch the entire review at Denver Post Reverb!


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Threading the Scene: Denver’s Deadbubbles’ unbeatable live show comes easy, but packs plenty of raw power

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Deadbubbles are bringing the raw edge back to rock. (Photo: Deadbubbles)

Deadbubbles are bringing the raw edge back to rock. (Photo: Deadbubbles)

Arlo White has always wanted to be in a band. “Ever since I was a kid,” he told me during a recent discussion, “I’ve always been focused on the idea of being in a rock band . . . .” After years of trying repeatedly to pull friends, friends of friends, people he’d meet at shows – and just about anyone else – into his dream, he’s finally met it with Denver’s Deadbubbles. This band is one that Jack Black’s character in “School of Rock,” die-hard rock ‘n roll fan Dewey Finn, would be proud of – one that mixes passion and simplicity with solid knowledge and respect for the classics.

DenverThread caught up with White, frontman and central energy source for the band, along with bassist Matt Martinez at the Skylark Lounge recently, to discuss the band’s history, future and philosophy. Sadly, the interview replaced the only show they’ve ever had to cancel in their three year history, due to illness.

“We’ve always tried to keep things simple,” White told me, “but powerful. And maybe it’s ‘cause I’m such an egomaniac, but I know what we bring to the stage every show. It’s strong, simple and powerful, also really sexual. . .” and exactly what he always wanted to bring.

“We’re proud of our ‘in your face’ sound and attitude,” added Martinez, “something we’ve always wanted to be. Not so much like your average hardcore punk band, though, more Stones-y, or like The Faces.”

“Yeah, every time I think of how I want to sing a ‘bubbles song,” said White, “I try and imagine how Rod Stewart would’ve done it.”

Deadbubbles does a damned good job at it, too – not just mimicry, but realm honest-to-god absorption and re-working – and not just of the pre-glam legends. Listening to a ‘bubbles record is like a walk through some mythical pre-punk section og the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame dedicated to The Stooges, MC5, David Bowie – all of the greats that fertilized the punk genre. But they also filter in a healthy dose of heavies like The Who, The Rolling Stones, Ozzie’s Black Sabbath and T. Rex that gives their compositions significant weight.

“Purity is really important to us, especially in the live show,” he explained. “We don’t have nay need or desire at all to mess things up bay adding too much. All we offer is pure music, and a strong sage presence, to raise the audience up.”

Still, it’s all simple three-chord progressions – sometimes even one chord (see Frienemy’s “Intro,” for a sample) – backed with pounding, basic drum and bass riffs, all behind White’s cocky and intense vocals that grab your attention, and keep you entranced and jerking, feet stomping and fists pumping, until the end of the last track.

Deadbubbles' live show is incomparable, wild, frenetic, and raw. (Photo: Deadbubbles)

Deadbubbles' live show is incomparable, wild, frenetic, and raw. (Photo: Deadbubbles)

Live, they’re even more of a phenom. At first the four piece  – made up of White and Martinez along with guitarist Paul Humphrey and (latest) drummer Robert Newman – seem a relatively unassuming, jeans, t-shirt and jacketed bunch. Not for long, however. As soon as Humphrey’s guitar starts into its Stooge-tinted progression, White transforms into a rock ‘n roll beast. Often dressed in a ruffled tuxedo shirt and with lox that Robert Plant would covet, the singer punces around the stage and howls into his mic, channeling the spirits of Iggy Pop, Rob Tyner and Ozzie behind his psychotic, oversized eyes and maniacal grin. It’s the kind of performance that draws you in, and doesn’t let you get back out, until White’s good and done with you.

“Purity is really important to us, especially in the live show,” he explained. “We don’t have nay need or desire at all to mess things up bay adding too much. All we offer is pure music, and a strong sage presence, to raise the audience up.”

The band started out in 2006 when White asked Humphreys, who he’d met at a number of parties around town, to come by and work out some tunes, and to form a band.

“For the first time,” said White, “after so many other times I’d tried to get someone to help me get a band started, this guy actually showed up! I was floored! We started recording in my house, just Paul and I and his guitar, and a little Casio I have.”

Bassist Martinez, a long time friend of Humphreys from a boarding school in Fargo, North Dakota, joined soon after, and then the band began an almost Spinal Tap styled quest for a regular drummer – they went through eight – until Newman stepped in. Since then, the band has maintained that lineup, and solidified their sound, stage presence, and camaraderie.

“Our friends are really, really into us,” said White. “I think we offer a sound that brings freedom, purity, and more than a little sexual energy back to the stage, and they seem to identify with it.”

And, after only two records, 2007’s Reclamation Forklift Provider and 2008’s Frienemies, White has begun soliciting other bands to record a Deadbubbles tribute album. Another sign of egomania? Perhaps – but I think it’s brilliant, and wonder why more bands aren’t doing the same -regardless of their sphere of influence. And, he’s already got more than 8 tracks submitted.

“Our friends are really, really into us,” said White. “I think we offer a sound that brings freedom, purity, and more than a little sexual energy back to the stage, and they seem to identify with it.”

Deadbubbles is playing one more 2009 show, on Saturday, November 14, at Meadowlark. The show is a farewell for band Six Months to Live, and also features Dario Rosa. Don’t miss this show – the small venue is as likely as not to explode with the band’s fury, and it’ll be well worth it to say you were there.

Check out one of their best: [wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/6669.mp3″ text=”Deadbubbles – 6669″]


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DenverThread Live Review: Vitamins w/The Outfit, Meadowlark, 11/7/09

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Vitamins played a varied set of sweeping and noisy, yet ethereal songs in the ultra cool Meadowlark last Saturday night. (Photo: MySpace)

Vitamins played a varied set of sweeping and noisy, yet ethereal songs in the ultra cool Meadowlark last Saturday night. (Photo: MySpace)

The Meadowlark Bar continues to set the bar for live national and local lineups in a hip, comfortable environment night after night. Last Saturday’s lineup was no exception, and featured The Outfit and headliners Vitamins, both originally from Greeley, after being supported by Johnny Burroughs (also a Greeley native) and Seattle’s garage-bluesy The Curious Mystery. The last two groups stole the night, and each packed the place with what looked like two separate crowds.

The Outfit was setting up when we arrived, and soon were pouring out their James Gang meets Dinosaur Jr. meets The Strokes sound, thick and swirling with brilliant guitar noise and musty vocals. The crowd in front of them – and in the Meadowlark, that’s meant literally, as audience members are often within inches of rubbing up against gyrating band members – was small as the started up, but the place filled up before the second tune was over.

Fronted by singer Eric Johnston, they tore through a set that could’ve lasted longer than it did, were it not for the band’s furious energy. Seconds after one tune ended, bassist Pat Lawless and drummer Chris Cain would cue up the next vitriolic rhythm, and Johnston and lead guitarist Casey Banker (who also plays with Denver’s The Dont’s and Be Carefuls) would jump in with their fresh, garage guitar work, and they were off and running again.

There was one longer pause in the set, when Jacob Hansen, lead singer of local quick-rising starts The Knew, handed the group a set of shots (the rest of The Knew were there to howl their approval as well). In addition to the liquid support from one band to another, The Outfit also showed their love for their scene by covering the recently split Hot IQ’s, one of Denver’s most beloved bands of the past few years. It’s always a great sight, seeing the local scene support itself – sweetly incestuous, at times, but it really is a good thing.

Vitamins play a complex, sometimes dreamy, sometimes cacaphonous music that's easy to love. (Phot: MySpace)

Vitamins play a complex, sometimes dreamy, sometimes cacaphonous music that's easy to love. (Photo: MySpace)

After The Outfit wrung out much of the energy from that crowd, Denver’s Vitamins began to setup, and what seemed to be an entirely new, fresh group of fans started to make their way into the Meadowlark. The mix re-energized the place, just in time for the band to take over at right about midnight.

Vitamins’ style ranges from sweeping, ethereal arrangements that recall Cocteau Twins and Ride, to grooving psychedelic noise pop reminiscent of Sonic Youth or Yo La Tengo. Strong, anchoring euro-jazz bass lines and often sparse, lilting vocals also add an otherworldly, Stereolab quality to it as well. Their mixture of these influences creates a sound that’s almost entirely their own – but not quite. For a relatively young band – they formed in 2005 in Greeley, and transplanted themselves in Denver not too long after – they’ve come a long way in a short time, but still seem to favor different influences on an almost song-by-song basis. Overall, though, the variety makes for one of Denver’s more exciting live shows.

Their growth is evident in the stylistic differences between their two records, 2008’s Calliope and this year’s new EP Songs for Stem Cells, and they focused their set Saturday night on the latter collection. Where Calliope stumbles a bit here and there as the band tries to find its voice, Stem Cells is much more cohesive, cogent, and their live show reflected the same atmosphere. After starting out with Lilly Allen’s sparse yet confident vocals in the surprising “Sequined Dress,” Matt Daniels and Ryan Ellison’s heavy yet melodic guitar and bass melded fast to Crawford Philleo’s confident drumming, to lay out a solid foundation of driving, rhythmic pop, and then built on that with a sound that belied their number. Later, as they swirled into the softer melodies of “Dark Matter” and “A Fear of Rattles,” a pair of tunes that begs for swaying, upheld lighters and grasped hands, the crowd got a deserved breather. It turned out to be necessary, as the set rounded out with some explosive, loud and burgeoning noise that ended a bit too soon.

Check out Vitamins’ “Dark Matter” mp3:
[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/DarkMatter.mp3″ text=”Dark Matter”]

And they'r eon the rise in Denver, on mark to become one of the scene's trendsetters, if things keep sounding the way they do. (Photo: MySpace)

And they're on the rise in Denver, on mark to become one of the scene's trendsetters, if things keep sounding the way they do. (Photo: MySpace)


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Live review: Art Brut @ Bluebird Theater 11/6/09 – Reverb

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Art Brut's Eddie Argos took the story of a visit to DC Comics right off the stage and into the crowd at the Blubird theater last Friday. (Photo: Jon Bielecki/Reverb)

Art Brut's Eddie Argos took the story of a visit to DC Comics right off the stage and into the crowd at the Blubird theater last Friday. (Photo: Jon Bielecki/Reverb)

Argos’ stage persona, always confident and mumblingly hilarious, seemed to continuously morph. He channeled Mark E. Smith, Lester Bangs, John Lydon and Joey Ramone — sometimes all four at once — in front of the constantly wild antics of Catskilkin and Future. All of it was backed by the rhythm section formed by Feedback’s raucous bass and Breyer’s pounding drums.

There is no end to the appreciation I have for female bassists, and I have even more for drummers who have no use for a seat of any kind. Why sit and play? The rest of the band doesn’t, and any sort of leisure onstage is not what rock is about. Not for this band, anyway.

Catch the entire review at Denver Post Reverb!


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Valient Thorr @ the Larimer Lounge, 11/5/09 – Reverb

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Valient Himself and the rest of the Thorriors took on the Larimer Lounge again last Thursday night. (Photo: Tina Hagerling/Reverb)

Valient Himself and the rest of the Thorriors took on the Larimer Lounge again last Thursday night. (Photo: Tina Hagerling/Reverb)

The band started their 90-minute, high-octane set right at 11 p.m., and it didn’t take long for the crowd to nearly get out of control. Lead singer Valient Himself, as wild and provocative a character as you’re likely to find across the metal spectrum, carried both the crowd and the band with his over-the-top antics and supercharged metabolism, screaming to the head-banging mosh pit about conspiracies behind the government, endless partying and the eventual rise of an army of partially robotic and undead police, destined to take over the state if we don’t maintain a vigilant watch every second.

Catch the entire review at Denver Post Reverb!


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Reed Bremmer leads Speedwolf through a set of screaming speed metal at the Larimer Lounge last Thursday, opening for Valient Thorr. (Photo: DenverThread)

Speedwolf hits the road to tour the midwest, after opening for Valient Thorr at Larimer Lounge

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Reed Bremmer leads Speedwolf through a set of screaming speed metal at the Larimer Lounge last Thursday, opening for Valient Thorr. (Photo: DenverThread)

Reed Bremmer leads Speedwolf through a set of screaming speed metal at the Larimer Lounge last Thursday, opening for Valient Thorr. (Photo: DenverThread)

One of Denver’s hardest working metal bands, Speedwolf, is about to embark on a week-long tour of the midwest to spread their raucous brand of speed metal to the heartland. Starting out in Des Moines, IA on Thursday, November 19, the band will play shows back-to-back every night for six nights, traveling through Chicago, Lakewood (Ohio), Lansing, St. Louis and Kansas City before heading back home to Denver (dates are listed below). Seems exhausting, but if any band can pull it off and live to tell about it, it’s this one.

After months of playing multiple shows around Denver nearly every week, the band is excited to take their high energy, explosive speed metal show on the road – and answer to the public that’s been calling them out. They’ll be sharing stages on the tour with bands like Borderline Insanity, Animal Mothers, Calin’s Murder, Music Hates You, Wastelander and Die Wasted, among others, but they’re most excited to be playing a few with Nunslaughter and Superchrist.

“We were psyched to be asked to tour a few days with Superchrist – one of my favorites,” said bassist Jake Kaufmann at last Thursday night’s Valient Thorr show, where Speedwolf played first opener. “And playing with Nunslaughter is just gonna be fuckin’ awesome!”

Although the tour is anything but a vacation, all four members are anxious to get on the road to show off. If their shows are anything like the performance they put on at the Larimer last Thursday, no one’s going to be the least bit disappointed.

Jake Kaufmann, with his new bass, ready to hit the road. (Photo: DenverThread)

Jake Kaufmann, with his new bass, ready to hit the road. (Photo: DenverThread)

Sadly, the Larimer was nearly empty when the band started, but that didn’t slow down frontman Reed Bremmer. As Kaufmann,  guitarist Kris Wells  and drummer Richi Tice wound up the slow anticipation of “Speedwolf,”  what crowd there was in the venue moved up to the front, prepared for the blast. And it came, loudly, and led into a too short (30 minute) set of searing speed and huge, explosive rhythm. They tore through “Denver 666,” “I am the Demon” and others as more began to trickle in. Valient Himself – wild-eyed frontman for the headliners – took in a few songs, and nodded approval before stalking off halfway through the set. Just after that, a few superfans banged heads and pumped fists violently through the rest, and even started a small, but fast, mini-mosh pit.

Despite the low-energy response by the small audience, the band put on a searing show, and warmed up the place for a typically frenetic Valient Thorr show that nearly brought the house down, thanks to Bremmer. During VT’s set, the Speedwolf singer jumped up and grabbed on to swing from one of the electrical conduits above the stage, and ended up pulling it down, and ripping out some wiring. The move ended up shooting some sparks down onto the stage, but only managed to pause Thorr’s performance for about twenty minutes.

Speedwolf Midwest Tour Dates:

Nov 19 2009 8:00P
BORDERLINE INSANITY, ANIMAL MOTHERS, CALIN’S MURDER, SPEEDWOLF @ The Haunted Basement in IOWA!!! Des Moines, Iowa
Nov 20 2009 8:00P
MUSIC HATES YOU, SUPERCHRIST, SPEEDWOLF @ The White Star Bar in CHICAGO!!!! Chicago, Illinois
Nov 21 2009 8:00P
NUNSLAUGHTER, SUPERCHRIST, and SPEEDWOLF @ Symposium Nite Club in OHIO!!! Lakewood, Ohio
Nov 22 2009 8:00P
SUPERCHRIST, WASTELANDER, and SPEEDWOLF @ Macs Bar in Lansing!!!!!! Lansing, Michigan
Nov 23 2009 8:00P
DIE WASTED, ZUUL,TERRA CAPUT MUNDI, SPEEDWOLF @ FUBAR in St. Louis!!! St. Louis, Missouri
Nov 24 2009 8:00P
KOKTOPUS, JBOOZER, SPEEDWOLF & More TBA @ The RIOT ROOM in KC!!! Kansas City, Missouri

More pictures of last Thursday’s show:

Kris Wells, guitarist for Speedwolf. (Photo: DenverThread)

Kris Wells, guitarist for Speedwolf. (Photo: DenverThread)

Kaufmann, Bremmer and Wells onstage at the Larimer. (Photo: DenverThread)

Kaufmann, Bremmer and Wells onstage at the Larimer. (Photo: DenverThread)

A few fans crowding up to the stage. (Photo: DenverThread)

A few fans crowding up to the stage. (Photo: DenverThread)

As the band picked up speed, the floor got a little more feral. (Photo: DenverThread)

As the band picked up speed, the floor got a little more feral. (Photo: DenverThread)


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Jam Space USA and Whisper Fiercely have joined forces to help your local band grow. Their debut will be held at an industry shindig this Sunday, November 8, starting at 4PM.

Fiercely Local: Jam Space USA and Whisper Fiercely join forces for the Denver music scene

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Jam Space USA and Whisper Fiercely have joined forces to help your local band grow. Their debut will be held at an industry shindig this Sunday, November 8, starting at 4PM.

Jam Space USA and Whisper Fiercely have joined forces to help your local band grow. Their debut will be held at an industry shindig this Sunday, November 8, starting at 4PM.

Two local businesses, each with some pretty serious clout and equally serious dedication to the local Denver music scene, recently joined forces to offer local bands, beginners or otherwise, a huge resource center to help them succeed. Whisper Fiercely has been a successful production company for the past two years and have always focused on the local. The group offers bands (and other businesses) design, merchandise, promotion and marketing help, and were also instrumental in organizing, promoting, booking and executing EchoFest ’09, the local band extravaganza (there were over 20 local bands on the lineup) at Echo Mountain. Jam Space USA, a local studio facility on North Federal, opened just a year ago, and offers local musicians professionally and fully stocked and wired studio and recording space, as well as promotional support. A few months ago, Whisper Fiercely moved into the building, and the two have decided to collaborate.

This Sunday, November 8, the two are holding a huge party to officially announce their partnership, and what better way to show it off than to invite scouts, agents, and other industry professionals to meet some of the bands that are calling Jam Space USA home?

Starting at 4PM, the two businesses will open the place to the industry, and will have more than a few local bands on hand, as well as all kinds of goodies. Local promoter Ray Lovett, based out of Colorado Springs, has also joined with Whisper Fiercely, and will be at the event to help support the bands.  From the partnership’s press release:

“Whisper Fiercely and Jam Space USA host numerous agents, labels and production companies for the first of many quarterly soirées.  Names such as Jason Frost, Universal, AEG Live and Clear Channel will be in attendance.  Bands being reviewed include Lost Point, Glyphic,Vanadium,Silent Still and Korporate Music and a handful of others as industry professionals from around the country scout for talent.  This is an opportunity to network and explore the first complete service Hub for Denver’s elite musician.  Merchandising, Recording, Booking, Printing, Rehearsal Space,lessons, Industry Workshops, etc…”

Jam Space USA also provides young musicians with lessons, beginner or advanced, as well as in studio production support. Coming together with Whisper Fiercely offers Denver musicians a giant leg up towards building their musical ambitions into reality, all in a single building.

“It is our mission to become a Mecca for the music industry in the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.  We believe we can achieve this by creating new and innovative avenues for musicians to succeed.” – from the partnership press release.

For information, or to attend, contact Whisper Fiercely directly (720-933-4868), and they can arrange an invite.


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Jay Munly, in full and redemptive sinner persona, mesmerized the Bender's audience on Halloween night. (Photo: Haley Carnifax/Reverb)

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club @ Bender’s Tavern 10/31/09 – Reverb

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Jay Munly, in full and redemptive sinner persona, mesmerized the Bender's audience on Halloween night. (Photo: Haley Carnifax/Reverb)

Jay Munly, in full and redemptive sinner persona, mesmerized the Bender's audience on Halloween night. (Photo: Haley Carnifax/Reverb)

“Just like Slim!” “Just Like Munly!” The two centers of the cyclone that is the live performance of Slim Cessna’s Auto Club hollered these lines again and again at each other during their anthemic “He, Roger Williams” at Bender’s last Saturday night. They were unwittingly pointing out the single scratch in the veneer of one of the best live shows in the country: that the playlist was beginning to sound “just like a Slim Cessna show” again.

Read the entire review at Denver Post Reverb! Catch a slideshow featuring Haley Carnifex’s photographs here!


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