Live DenverThread Review: The Inactivists provide some sweet, sickly heartbreak for the love-challenged
Scott Livingston isn’t someone you want to wrong, particularly in the arena of love. As frontman of Denver band The Inactivists, a band known for its nerdy humor mixed with artsy rock, he’s got a soapbox that’s pretty tall. And with the band’s latest record, “Love Songs and Other Songs About Love,” they’ve taken the heartbreak of a dissolved relationship and bent it into an aural sculpture on a framework of sardonic and geeky wit, and Livingston is the mouthpiece.
Even more extreme than the record, The Inactivists’ live show is one to be reckoned with, and they showed it off last Saturday night (January 30) at The Walnut Room in front of an impressive crowd. Behind his electric ukelele, Livingston cuts an impressive figure that belies the internal strife his lyrics portend. He’s more than well met by Victoria Lundy’s wild and earthy performance on the theremin and Pattie Melt’s smooth, punky saxophone and accordion, Matt Sumner’s bass funk and Kelly Prestridge’s complex rhythms.
That night their set lasted just under an hour, and included rowdy versions of “I Need More Than That,” “Take Me Back,” the semi-sarcastic reggae of “Lock Jah,” “What What I Want Wants” and “United We Stand Still,” among others. A clear highlight of the set was their rendition of “The Octupi Occupy,” from Dreaded Concept Album, which featured a repeated chorus of both “Tickle my tentacles . . .” and “Tickle my testicles . .,” chanted very quickly, but the apex of the set had to be “WTF,” also the likely highpoint of the “Love Songs . . .” record. If it weren’t for some over-the-top language, too hot for airplay, “WTF” would be a surefire hit, and it’s painfully realistic depiction of the confusion and despair hat often accompanies a breakup would only help.
Inactivists are serving up another plate of their special brand of rock for an upcoming show at Bender’s Tavern, on Saturday, February 13th – a fitting date, seeing that it’s Valentine’s Day eve. The Panties On The Ground celebration will feature another rousing set from The Inactivists, with an opening set from another Denver band, Ground Above Zero and performances from Ooh-La-La Presents burlesque to bookend them bands (hip hint: Ooh-La-La Presents’ member Pebbles Bam Bam is fronting Ground Above Zero also).
Make it a point to hit the Panties On The Ground show at Bender’s – this one looks like it could become a tradition, and The Inactivists are the perfect accompaniment. Here’s to hoping Livingston continues to find solace in he performances of such fun and heartbreaking songs, as so many listeners will.