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We know – we’re a little more than hungover ourselves, trying to remember whether the pounding behind our eyelids is more PBR or Zebroids, or if the taste encrusted on our lips is ketchup or blood. But, hey – it’s #UMS2015 – and that’s what it’s all about. Need to get back on the dog-haired horse and jump right back into the swirling abyss – that’s the only cure….
We can help. Each and every day, DenverThread is publishing recommendations – by the hour – for bands you need to see in this crazy, over-stuffed, incredible lineup. Come back here and catch the day’s recommendations before you head out, and while you’re meandering down South Broadway!
Here’s our by the hour lineup recommendation for Day 4, Sunday, July 26…
12:00 PM – Punch Drunk Munky Funk – Illegal Pete’s
There’s probably nothing better to ease you into Day #4 then some groovy, easy, funky jazz, and Fort Collins’ Punch Drunk Munky Funk has the perfect thing. Cure your hangover with pumping, jazzy basslines, tropical drums, and horns galore – and a breakfast piña colada, of course. Here’s a little ReverbNation and Soundcloud action for you to get you ready.
1:00 PM – Big Wild Wings – Irish Rover
Salt Lake City’s Big Wild Wings comes close to the feeling of Cocteau Twins, Xymox and the like – with an expansive, light feel. Lyndsi Austin’s well-rounded vocals float above symphonic guitars and synth, playing with the horizon and buzzing in and around your thoughts, while you succumb to a calm satisfaction. Test the noise out for yourself on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
2:00 PM – Professor Fox’s One Man Band – Illegal Petes
We love one-man-bands – maybe because this place so often feels like a one-man-operation, with the same frenetic need-six-hands action all the time. Fort Collins’ Steve Jones (Professor Fox) may appear to be a simple folk/Americana act, but he brings a certain intellectual gravity to his music, as well as some downright shit-hot guitar, foot- and bodywork. Get you some on Soundcloud for a bit.
3:00 PM – 40th Day – 3 Kings Tavern
40th Day started in Denver in the mid ’80s, and spent a decade as one of the area’s strongest acts with a definite post-punk, noisy and alt-gothic feel. The band re-formed a few years back and the’re back for #UMS2015, and still going strong, by all accounts. Recalling acts like Siouxsie & the Banshees, Joy Division and the like, they’ll bring a sinister feel to South Broadway, anchored in bass and strong vocals. This act will be well worth it – and gives us all a chance to step back into the days when Denver’s scene was thick with an atmospheric, full beauty. Catch them on Bandcamp.
4:00 PM – Jux County – 3 Kings Tavern
More from 3 Kings’ hosting of the history of Denver Music, Jux County bring together pieces of country and punk in a way that drives hard and frantic. Recalling the sounds of Mission of Burma, Jux County is a sort of ’80s-’90s Denver supergroup, featuring local heroes Andy Monley, Ron Smith and Chris Pearson, and have never really stopped. Check out their alt-country punk rock on Soundcloud.
5:00 PM – Panther Martin – Irish Rover
Panther Martin envelop their audience with a smoky atmospheric sound full of huge drums, heady guitars and whisping vocals. Drenched in ubiquitous reverb and echo, Panther Martin slink into the room slowly, grab your consciousness and pull you along for a dreamy ride. Check them out on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
6:00 PM – Sparkle Jetts – Hornet Restaurant
Arlo White’s Sparkle Jetts fling around a strong, glam-heavy ’70s based rock with aplomb and shock – and it’s only one of White’s Denver-based projects. And all of them rock the pants off this town every week in one way or another. Star-powered, blues-rock based groove is on deck at the Hornet – don’t miss this. Get ahead on them on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.
6:30 PM – Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – Main Stage at SSFCU
If there’s one reason to see the UMS live and up close, it would be to catch Slim Cessna’s Auto Club. this is a band that not only has defined the Denver music scene for more than two decades, they’ve also got a live set that is impossible to match – or beat. Slim, Munly, Reverend Dwight Pentacost, Danny Pants, Big Bad Bob Ferbrache (who’s Absinthe Studios has a long history of recording a lot of Denver’s best talent – and more) – all in the frantic milieux of a tent revival. Happy, jumpy, almost overwhelming – Slim Cessna will rock you indelibly. Catch some on Bandcamp.
7:00 PM – The Patient Zeros – Brendan’s Pub
8:00 PM – Kinky Fingers – Irish Rover
9:00 PM – Montoneros – Moe’s Original Bar-B-Que
Montoneros spin out dreamy, spacious rock, and pull you in with solid pop hooks and rhythms. Mathy, edgy, a tad emo (but not too much) Montoneros will leave calm and whole again. Try them out on Bandcamp.
10:00 PM – The Still Tide – Eslinger Gallery
The Still Tide play a simple, yet sweeping, brand of folk pop, with more than a little coloring of shoegaze in it’s roots. The band just moved to the clean air of Colorado from the bustle of New York, with Aaron Latos and Anna Morsett (once from These United States) in tow, and their music sounds spacious and open, like the mountain country. Catch them on Bandcamp – or, better, at the Eslinger Gallery – to make your own decision.
11:00 PM – Black Lamb – 3 Kings Tavern
Black Lamb have been a part of Denver for so long it seems they’re just part of the black in the streets, constantly under construction, constantly cracking and breaking, but always the same streets. Brian Hagman leads this sludgy metal mess like a more conscious Ozzy Osbourne, circa “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath” (but only slightly more conscious). Hagman, though, brings in a wanton carelessness and passion that’s all too real, slow and unflinchingly heavy guitars and impossibly huge drums and bass back him up. End your UMS experience with about a trillion slow sledghammer punches to the head at 3 Kings, and go home happy, sated and ready for Monday. Get some sound samples on their Facebook page.
It’s inspiring, all the bands buzzing around now that are making rock fun again. Bands like Japandroids, No Age, Fucked Up, Thee Oh Sees – all are about having a blast playing with a sound they love, and that lays the audience flat, under a rockpile of noise. Add Twin Peaks to that list. This four piece veteran band of the Chicago DIY scene is making waves with a live show that’s approaching legend. Their showing at this year’s SXSW in Austin has definitely turned heads, for the better, and probably for a long time.
Maybe it comes from overwhelming familiarity, or the actualization of late night sleepover conversation describing their rock & roll dreams – most of Twin Peaks’ members have known each other since grade school. Frontman Cadien Lake James, bassist Jack Dolan, guitarist Clay Frankel and drummer Connor Brodner have been part of the Chicago scene since high school, in one form or another. James cut his rock biz teeth in Teenage Dream, playing shows in front of single-digit audiences. Whatever the reason, this band has hit on a combination of sound and energy that leaves crowds sweating, frenzied, ecstatic.
Sometimes channeling a misty melodic memory of Oasis with a strong shot of New York Dolls, but more often resembling the Big Star that Paul Westerberg‘s Replacements dreamed of being (give a listen to “Ordinary People,” below, to see for yourself), Twin Peaks builds a sonic wall of reverb-drenched chords, interlaced with perfect Pixies noodling and solid drums. On top of that – in most tunes – James layers a full, round baritone that approaches Jim Morrison’s, with a vocal swagger that likely makes Mick Jagger nostalgic.
“Ordinary People” – from Wild Onion (2014)
Even on record, their sound and energy is contagious. It’s almost creepy how quickly some of the tunes on “Wild Onion,” the band’s latest release, become comfortable beneath skin & muscle, and comfortably wrap themselves around your bones. The wilding freedom of “I Found A New Way,” the complex psychedelia of “Strawberry Smoothy” and “Strange World,” the ’70s theme music of “Telephone” and the Cheap Trick of “Flavor” – this record shows many levels of pop sensibility and creation that belies even the combined ages of all four band members. Wild Onion doesn’t sound like a sophomore piece – it’s closer to a picture of a band who have reached their stride. And that’s why the buzz they’re enjoying about now – having outshone most of SXSW alongside other newly big acts like Courtney Barnett.
Denver is lucky to be welcoming Twin Peaks to the Hi-Dive this coming Thursday, one of three bands playing in the latest episode of the UMS-curated Red Bull Sound Select series. In this small venue, this band promises to blow more than doors down – they’ll likely blow your mind as well. Don’t miss this 18+ show – $3 entry if you RSVP – $15 if you don’t. And if you make it in the door – which seems a little unlikely at this point, considering the band’s popularity right now.
Take a look/listen to their video for “Making Breakfast,” below, and see if that doesn’t make you hungry for this brand of garage rock. See you there, Denver.
Free this Saturday night (February 1)? Not any more, you’re not.
Time for you to get your Gary Numan-meets-Alice Cooper groove on and go see Jack Name (aka John Webster John – touring as guitarist with White Fence) – opening for Dent May – at the Hi-Dive. Seriously, this Los Angeles psych-soothsayer promises to grab anyone in the audience for his set with some heavy electronic psychedelia, all wrapped in a heady David Lynch mist – guaranteed to leave you with a somewhat uncomfortable, but warm, contact buzz.
Name’s opus, “Light Show,” released January 21, is a journey through a post-apocalyptic city being cleansed by rival gangs, narrated in a type of narcotic stupor by that world’s savior. Ambitious and psychotropic, to be sure, but that’s not the important part right now.
What’s important for you to know, as you will be experiencing name’s journey on the small Hi-Dive stage, is that, musically, this album is brilliant. It may take a listen or two, but the glam-rock-Broadway sound of this epic eats into your brain pretty quickly. On the second or third listen, I couldn’t help but imagine a Brian Eno meth head streaming down Road Warrior highways, one ear constantly wired to a never-ending playlist that includes Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Gary Numan, Alice Cooper and Rocky Horror, in an endless shuffle.
Putting Name in the driver’s seat of that imagery, it’s no wonder he might feel he’s that world’s savior. He not only speaks the language of the savage gang, but hums the music of their simultaneous salvation and destruction. How he intends to get this across to an undoubtedly mouthy buzz crowd at the Hi-Dive is challenging – but is it something you want to risk missing?
Here’s a sample of the chaos, in “Pure Terror.”
Make sure you show up early, and give this one a listen. I doubt it’ll be something you forget too soon.
The power of a trio probably comes from its simplicity. Probably (at least that’s my take, and I’m sticking with it). It’s been proven again, and again and again – Rush, The Minutemen, Nirvana, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, ZZ Top, the Police – even Triumph (ferchrissakes) – all innovators, all brilliant (well – I’ll leave Triumph in the list regardless). Add METZ to the mix, too. Toronto’s best musical export to date, METZ more than earn their name’s all-caps each and every night. Slinging heavy, thick and chunky guitar noises, bass that sounds like a herd of bulldozers crushing through concrete and insanely loud drumming, these three gents make noise and powerpop mix in glorious ways – and they may be the hardest working band in the business right now (they’ve been touring non stop for close to a year – not even any time to record a new record).
They’re playing the Hi-Dive in Denver Tuesday night, May 7th, and you’d better be there – or have to deal with all the noise you’ll hear about it from those of us that are.
Each and every one of those days and nights, crammed in small stages or spread out across the gargantuan festival ones, they bring a strange sense of order to their dissonance – their sound smells of The Jesus Lizard, A Place To Bury Strangers, Big Black, Black Flag – all the noisy ones – but METZ has some uncanny way of making their sound constantly fresh, brisk, clean – even amidst all the punishment.
We got a chance to speak to METZ vocalist/guitarist Alex Edkins a few days ago, and have to say that the sound onstage and on record does not match the friendly, assured conversational tone that Edkins uses. Like all Canadians, he’s polite as fuck – but you can tell he’s focused, and knows exactly what he and his two bandmates (bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies) are doing. You can also tell they’re loving every minute of it.
Read on to see for yourself – and then check out the treats at the end.
DenverThread: Where are you all now?
Alex Edkins: Were in atlanta – it’s really nice here. just played last night & we’re heading to Birmingham, AL.
DT: Awesome! I used to live in Montgomery, AL – went to a couple shows in Birmingham in my high school days.
DT: First question: Big Black or Black Flag?
AE: I would say – and the band would agree – Black Flag.
DT: I swear I thought you’d say Big Black! Both are obviously legitimate, but likewise, Black Flag kind of runs thick in my blood.
AE: Yeah – no totally – that’s where we come from as far as what got us into punk music and y’know, grabbed us when we were young. That kind of early hardcore, Minor Threat & all that kind of stuff – that’s near and dear to us for sure.
DT: You’re aware of the two competing versions of Black Flag touring right now – any chance METZ will cross paths with either of them?
EA: You know what – I think we’re actually going to be playing a festival with FLAG – and I have no bloody idea who’s in that band! ‘Cos there’s Flag, and then Black Flag and it’s very confusing, and I don’t know who’s playing in which group!
DT: Well – just to clarify – I read on Spin.com just this morning that Flag had a secret show in the Moose Lodge – where the original Black Flag played their first gig. From that article I know that Flag is the Keith Morris, Dez Cadena, Chuck Dukowski and Bill Stevenson (with – at least for this show – some Greg Ginn guitar-slinging by Decendents’ Stephen Edgerton) – all early members – and the other one’s the Greg GInn joint. I’m not sure which one I’m more excited to see.
AE: Oh my god – it’s terrible! I wanna see both – but at the same time I don’t want to see either of them, y’know? I mean – you can’t have Black Flag without Greg Ginn!
DT: Amen to that – it doesn’t seem right! But I also kinda hope – in my own weird fantasy – that they’ll meet up playing in some sort of “right across the street” venue situation and that they’ll end up meeting out in the street and having a knife fight – sort of a la “Beat It.”
AE: Oh my god – we can dream! Yeah – that would be insane.
DT: So you’re touring a while with No Joy – playing here in Denver with them. The reason I found out about METZ is because of No Joy – because I’ve followed Laura Lloyd on Twitter for a long time, and she mentioned how great you guys are – maybe a year ago? I take her recommendations seriously ‘cos No Joy is such a great band. Anyway – METZ, No Joy, Fucked Up – all are from Canada – and all of you are great. In fact, some of the best music not only to come out of Canada lately, but from anywhere. Who are some of your favorites from the Great White North right now, and what do you think of this sort of “Canadian Invasion?”
AE: First, we’re really pumped to be playing with those guys. We’ve played a few times with No Joy in the past, and we’re really pumped to be doing it again – Jasamine and Laura are just awesome. We always have a great time with them – and to be able to just play a bunch of shows with them is perfect. I can’t wait to hear their new record – I think it came out today, even! I’m gonna bug them about getting a copy.
AE: Anyway – Toronto right now has got some really cool stuff going on. We played in New York recently with a few of our favorite bands out of Toronto – Soupcans and Odonis odonis, who are on tour with us right now. And um – yeah – they’re a few examples of really killer stuff coming out of Toronto. Another favorite would be Teenanger, who we’ve toured with in the past. But yeah, I think there’s certainly no shortage of cool music coming out of Toronto,and out of Canada right now.
DT: I agree – it just seems fresh. I mean – you guys are a perfect example. METZ a great, strong sound, and you seem to have a way of expressing it and controlling it in ways that I don’t see too much – it’s really fresh (and I’m not alone in saying that). Your sound owes a little to Big Black and hardcore – Black Flag and such – but you seem to somehow be able to control it in ways that many other bands considered in the same light just can’t. I mean, I love A Place to Bury Strangers, their sound is extreme, pretty unique. But where Oliver tends to lose sight – or control of the sound – METZ doesn’t. You keep it fresh, new – but it’s still extreme.
AE: Thank you – that’s really cool to hear. We try to make something that we can call our own, but there’s no doubt that some of our influences are y’know, on our sleeve. And we don’t have a problem with that, but you just, y’know, put everything into a pot and mix it around and you end up getting METZ music out.
DT: And we’re all the better for it – thanks for that.
DT: So – you three seem to have been on tour, literally, forever. You just came back from Europe, and were everywhere else before that for months – it’s like you’re the hardest working noise band in the business. Have you had any time off recently?
AE: We have had some time off – not very much though. We just went to Europe, then went to Austin for South by. After that we had about three weeks at home – but we ended up going into the studio.
DT: And that was exactly what I was going to follow up with – was there time in the studio for a new record?
AE: No – not yet – it’s more of a new single or something like that, maybe. We haven’t really had time to get in there and start working on the next LP. That’ll come after this stint.
DT: So after his stint meaning – I think there are a few more weeks after Denver – and then there’s nothing else scheduled. Are you all going to get some time after that to record then?
AE: Well – actually, we’re doing this American leg, and then we go over to the UK and we’re touring with Fucked Up, then we do Primavera [in Spain], then some shows with Mudhoney and the Meat Puppets for a week in the UK as well, and then we’re booked up almsost every weekend until the end of the summer. So – it’s not like we’re going to have any time to go home and really, y’know get into the studio to actually record. And we just can’t write it on the road the way we do it – it’s kinda tough.
DT: I can imagine. Even so, it really sounds – as busy as it is – like you guys are living a dream. I mean, you say you’re touring with Fucked Up (again, one of my favorites right now) and then the Meat Puppets and Mudhoney in the same sentence. I mean – holy crap. You must be waking up grinning from ear to ear every morning.
AE: Well it’s true – I mean, those shows are like – we’re like “are you KIDDING me? Of course we would love to play with those bands!” So it’s definitely a treat when you get to play with bands you look up to.
DT: My last question – from my daughter (a budding music journalist) – what’s your favorite song today?
AE: (Pauses) Wow! That’s tough. I would say something I was just listening to – but I don’t think I’ve heard anything today, honestly.
DT: Yeah – it’s a tough question, it puts you in the moment, and I think that’s interesting our readers.
AE: Yeah it does – um… Let’s say off the new Redd Kross record – there’s a tune, the second tune on the record, called “Stay Away from Downtown,” which is just a superb powerpop song, I have to say that one. I’s such a glorious pop song from one of my favorite bands.
Here’s a video of Edkins’ favorite song from that morning – and maybe a clue to his headspace. Check out the video below that for a taste of METZ, too – and catch them at the Hi-Dive Tuesday, May 7th, too.
Redd Kross: “Stay Away from Downtown”
Blues Control has a reputation. The duo – Russ Waterhouse and Lea Cho, originally from Queens, NYC and now calling Coopersburg, PA home – are known as “unclassifiable,” “completely unique,” “incomparable.” Reviews tend to color the duo as almost inaccessible, even opaque. They were in the Hi-Dive last Thursday night, and proved that these adjectives, while accurate – don’t cover the band.
One thing critics don’t seem to give Blues Control credit for is the level of humor, playfulness hiding behind their complexity, but it was palpable at Thursday’s show. Waterhouse weaved fuzzy guitar leads between and around Cho’s jazzy piano samples – her constructions evoked Sesame Street childlike simplicity, and then migrated into Gershwin meets Thelonious Monk – and looped in samples and echoes as Cho switched to thumping on a three-stringed guitar, mixed heavily enough into the low end to mimic a bass. The brilliant “Iron Pigs” felt like a march soundtrack that could easily have accompanied a Middle Earth campaign, while “Love’s A Rondo” spun a thick, mathematic spell on the room.
The overall effect was a druggy sonic mist that easily overtook the small Hi-dive, but would probably have no more trouble filling up a much larger space. BC dealt in complexity from the cavelike stage – and looked comfortable, though they seemed penned in with all their wires and synth equipment – but made it feel simple, fun – more than just druggy. It felt as if there might be a joke on all of us – and particularly the critics that call them un-labelable. As they performed, it became increasingly obvious that they were merely enjoying themselves, and challenging us to join in.
Most of the audience did – and grinned into a contact-buzz that was (mostly) based in melody and deep, pounding reverb.
BC opened for longtime psychedelic wonder band Psychic Ills – who most of the audience were really there to see – but for my money the night belonged to the PA duo. Psychic Ills came off as a shiny, well-rehearsed period piece in comparison the Blues Control’s free, organic play.
Take a look at the video for “Iron Pigs (Drag City Limits performance),” to get a glimpse of Blues Control’s simple humor amidst complexity (this compression into a room that looks not much bigger than an office bathroom isn’t too far off from their stage position on Thursday night – though the Hi-Dive gave them plenty of room). Then listen to “Love’s A Rondo.” And then keep an eye out for their next Denver visit – it’ll be well worth your time.
How often do you find yourself inadvertently – almost subconsciously humming Blister in the Sun, Kiss Off, Add It Up, American Music or just about any of the seminal hits from early alt-folk (alt-punk? folk-punk? Angst-folk?) trio Violent Femmes? I know for me – and a whole sew of folks who were dragging themselves through college in the mid-’80s – it’s nearly a daily occurrence. For those of you unfamiliar with the minimalist (yet over-the-top dramatic, existential, provocative) style of the Gordon Gano–Brian Ritchie–Victor DeLorenzo trio, now’s your chance to introduce yourself to a sorely missing spoke in your personal wheel of American pop music history.
Next Saturday, April 7, the Hi-Dive is going to host a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Denver to see one of the albums that defined a giant chunk of today’s music – if only by being a constant sonic backdrop to so many of us all growing up, going through college (or toilet training, for many of us) and just beginning to really see how music can end up really defining an entire section of your life – and others’- forever. Local trio Dirty Femmes – a supergroup of sorts that features Jen Korte (of Jen Korte & the Loss), Paul McDaniel (of Jen Korte & the Loss, Opie Gone Bad) and Neil Mitchell ( of The Raven and the Writing Desk, Champagne Charlie) – are endeavoring to cover the Femmes’ first seminal LP in its entirety – on the (OUCH!) 30th anniversary of its recording
You could say that The Black Heart Procession bears a large portion of responsibility for the sound of “indie” today, and you wouldn’t be wrong. Since the members’ initial involvement in the seminal Three Mile Pilot in the late ‘90s, they’ve been championing a slow, psychedelic-but-gruff Pink Floyd style that’s only been solidified and made more sad with their latest incarnation.
They played a long set – almost too long – at Hi-Dive last night that magnified their dour atmosphere even more, but that was satisfying nonetheless.
Seems like this may be the beginning of the season of harvest in music, too – at least here in Denver. This weekend features a few awesome CD releases from local bands, and more! Read on to find out about two back-to-back Hot Congress release nights and an alt-country visit from Brooklyn to the Lion’s Lair. Is it just us, or is the heavy weight of Rocktober just around the corner?
This Friday and Saturday nights, September 30th and October 1st, the Hi-Dive will be host to a veritable local’s paradise, as local music and art collective Hot Congress release new collections from two of Denver’s up and coming bands.
Friday night showcases some fantastic Denver indie-meets-post-punk with the release party for Kissing Party’s “Waster’s Wall” album (officially out on October 18). One of Denver’s most promising acts at the moment, Kissing Party bring together a sort of Belle & Sebastian feel to their sound, with a tint of bubble gum and a Manchester shadow. Sometimes when I close my eyes and listen to Joe Hansen’s guitar on these songs, I find myself wondering when he and Johnny Marr played together, and where those basement tapes might be. Add Gregg Dolan and Dierdre Sage on vocals and Lee Evans and Shane Reid’s bass & rhythm tracks and you’ve got a trainwreck of poppy post-punk in which you’d pay to be crumpled up. Have a taste (below) before you plan to be at the show. Local duos Amazing Twin and Shaky Molars open – two more local bands well worth catching live for the first of (take my word for it) many more times.
[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/KissingParty-AshleySmashley.mp3″ text=”Kissing Party – Ashley Smashley”]
Saturday night brings the CD release party for Sun Red, a five-piece born out of the wreckage of Denver’s (Die)Pilot, full of sweeping and tenacious prog-esque constructions spearheaded by Gene Brown’s strong vocals. Their sound wavers across indie lines that corral such masters as Stephen Malkmus or Lou Barlow, but is very much something they’ve concocted on their own. Chris Durant’s stern rhythms accentuate complex, sympathetic stringplay between bassist Trevor Noel Gagstetter and guitarist Daniel Sullivan that frrames the vocals well. Check out “Terrorform” (below this) for a taste, then get to the 1st act of this double shot to pick up their brand-spanking-new “Breathes Ages” EP Friday at the Hi-Dive. Local faves Safe Boating Is No Accident, Colfax Speed Queen and Fingers of the Sun open up – be sure to get there early to take in the whole vibe.
[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/Terrorform.mp3″ text=”Sun Red – Terrorform”]
Could we be any more emphatic in our insistence that you camp out with Hot Congress this weekend? Really?
Austin’s (by way of Brooklyn) Lonesome Heroes made a 1,974-mile-long art project out of their latest record, Daydream Western (due for worldwide release on November 8th, 2011), by commemorating its centerpiece song “Highway 287” with a tour along the largely two-lane road that shares the singles’ name. they drove a 1967 Shasta camper from where 287 begins at the Gulf of Mexico all the way up to Glacier National Park in Montana, and showcased their own sweet alt-country-meets-indie pop all the way. Their sound invokes a Malkmus/Reed feel that runs sweetly through a Jesus & Mary Chain influence – if the Reid brothers had grown up somewhere along the Utah/Idaho border rather than in the UK.
This Friday, September 30th, they’re adding another stop at Avogadro’s Number up in Fort Collins ($10 cover), with opening performances by Rosewood Divine & Alycia Kraft, Jen Korte (apparently sans The Loss) and Bevin Luna. Then, on Sunday, October 2nd, they’ll take up residency for a night at the venerable Lion’s Lair ($5 cover), along with The Magic of Colfax, The Symbols and Good Neighbor. Take a look (below) at a clip from last summer’s stop in Avogadro’s Number to get a sample of what you’re in for.
It’s here! And it’s definitely THE highpoint of Denver’s summer music season! A full Red Rocks schedule, the Warped and other festival tours, multiple nights of Widespread Panic – even the monster U2 show in Invesco Field at Mile High – all pale in comparison to the magnitude of this weekend’s pinnacle. The 11th Annual Underground Music Showcase (UMS) starts this Thursday evening, and will dominate a few square miles of South Broadway for the following three nights.
This year’s show features close to 300 bands, comedians , singer songwriters and other talents, and will be housed in a huge number of venues, restaurants, bookstores, skateboard shops and t-shirt shops along South Broadway (here’s a handy listing, with a MAP!) – including two major outdoor stages – from 6th Avenue at the top to Cedar at the bottom.
Needless to say, the choices for live music abound – heck, they’re pretty overwhelming. Let’s face it: there’s no way anyone can possibly see all that the UMS has to offer, and it’d be a miracle to see everything you’d like to see. So let us at DenverThread take a little of the pressure to decide off of your shoulders, with our daily preview lists for this year’s festival.
Through the weekend, we’ll be listing our choices of the best things to see – for a lot of reasons. Whether your tastes run into the sludge-stoner-metal quagmire, meander through dreamy twee-pop or get hypnotically lost in psychedelic shoegaze, we’ll get you where you want to be, and make sure you’re catching something you’ve hopefully never seen before while we’re at it.
We’re also going to run quick, haiku-style reviews of the previous night’s highlights – so you can see what you missed while catching the best – and we’ll be in full collusion with HeyReverb.com with loads of social interaction. Make sure you’re following @DenvrThread and @RVRB on Twitter, and searching for #UMS and #DenverThread hashtags to get the whole story!
Here are our recommendations for a solid foray into the thick of the Rocky Mountain region’s largest single music festival. Times, of course, are scheduled – but may run late (as hard as all those UMS volunteers work to keep things going smoothly!). Scroll down past the top owners to see the DenverThread List!
Remember the old-school modeling house? This group of local heroes from Hearts of Palm and Mouth Full of Thunder and few more offer up some crunchy dance, with a sort of New Order funky metal tinge.
Denver’s Gauntlet Hair plays a cool, intriguing brand of reverb-soaked, psychedelic surf punk that’s easy to get lost in. The Flaming Lips’ Steven Drodz agrees – and if that’s not enough endorsement, take my word for it! Check out a brand new FREE MP3 from our friends at One Track Mind to see for yourself! GO!
One of Denver’s most exciting live acts, with a solid No Wave feel – a la Lydia Lunch, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, The Contortionists, etc. But last year’s UMS had the trio performing as a duo because Tiana Bernard – lead singer, bassist and the transfixing center of the live show’s energy – had a conflicting engagement. The result was less a performance than a sad bitch session directed (strangely) at the crowd.
Sporting an old school, pre-“Denver Sound” Denver sound, The Bonnie Situation blasts their audiences with a shrill garage punk – fast, loud and explosive. Worthy of the band’s namesake from the film Pulp Fiction, the band features members of local bands The Fluid, Blackouts and others.
Four toppers just isn’t enough – we know that! So here’s a list of our Thursday night recommendations – in chronological order! (How’s THAT for help in planning!?) Each one has a few words of recommendation/direction. Comment as you will – we’re sticking by them!
Try and make it to all of these – we dare you! If you do, you’ll win the supreme satisfaction that can only come from a job well done! Well, that and a pretty rough hangover, we’d bet….
Amazing Twin (used to be Old Radio) – Moe’s Original BBQ Verizon Wireless Stage @ 8PM – Offers some sublimely sloppy-pop, guitar-driven psychedelic shoegaze folk rock – and features Denver scenesters from Houses, Action Packed Thrill Ride, Hindershot and others.
Porlolo – 3 Kings Tavern – Sailor Jerry Stage @ 10PM – plays a quiet, passionate and darkly humorous style of folk – think a higher-brow, more substantial Danielle Ate the Sandwich (probably asking for it there, huh?).
Royal Bangs – Hi-Dive – Illegal Pete’s Stage @ 11PM – Hmmmmmmm…. This makes us imagine a show where Flaming Lips meets Colourmusic (ALSO a UMS band playing Friday!!), at a Cheap Trick show with The Strokes opening. What say you?
Lexigram (formerly Yerkish) – Skylark Lounge Verizon Wireless Stage@ 11PM – Play a fun, furious post-core prog rock – fast & loud. They recently changed their well-worn name, but not their style – thank God!
El Ten Eleven (LA) – Hi-Dive – Illegal Pete’s Stage @ midnight – is a prog instrumental post rock duo – sort of Ratatat, a shade grunged – they do a great cover of Joy Division’s “Disorder,” which will leave your heart and soul enrapt.
So that’s our list for Thursday night, July 21, at the 11th Annual Underground Music Showcase. Follow, listen, learn – and love. It’s your town, and your scene!
Be sure and follow @DenverThread on Twitter to receive live updates on UMS shenanigans! Follow @RVRB – the Denver Post’s HeyReverb.com Twitter, while you’re at it! We’ll be trolling the same places as you, and would love to say hi!
Tune in tomorrow for Friday night’s List!
Not too long ago, we reported on a few local bands on DenverThread that continue to contribute to a rougher, heavier, more noisy sound than most of the local (and sometimes national) press seems to focus on. This part of the Denver scene continues to grow in both band members and fans, and the Hi-Dive hosted an all-local, all noisy and all fun lineup that showcased some of them last Thursday night. Including Solar Bear, Ideal Fathers, St Elias and Colors, it attracted a more than modest crowd, and kept the fans fascinated – often dancing to some metal-dipped prog-rock and post punk.
Solar Bear and St. Elias bookended Ideal Fathers’ set with a somewhat similar vibe based in different sub genres of prog, which actually made the latter band’s style stand out. Not that the two are clones – to the contrary. St Elias played some well- executed instrumental constructions chock full of thick, syrupy chords that often recalled “Hemispheres” era Rush enveloped in some strong hardcore, while Solar Bear assaulted the room with a faster, wilder sound. Where St. Elias laid out jazzy and off-the-beaten fretboard progressions, Solar Bear (or, as their attractively simple t-shirts called them, Solar Mother Fucking Bear) looped stringwork around fuzz and screaming that approximated Mudhoney in an experimental mood, influenced by Glenn Branca as much as Ian MacKaye, and a little by the psychotically perfect meanderings of Greg Ginn.
For my money, it was Ideal Fathers’ set that anchored the night with a hotwired set of quick, smart post punk with just a dusting of metal and grindcore, and plenty of screaming humor to boot. Guitarist Adam Rojo’s performance was typically strong, fast and fun, as he continued the process of solidifying his space in the guitar god pantheon with his Andy Gil meets East Bay Ray style, steeped in reverb and pedal mastery. Bassist Mike King machine-gunned bass lines like clockwork, matching Mike Perfetti’s frenetic drumming perfectly. All the while, frontman Jesse Hunsaker belted out his signature howling yelp – just about unmatched in Denver right now – screaming pop-culture-soaked stream of consciousness, just barely weighing down maniacal laughter. It seeped through a few times, and endeared his audience.
These bands represent a strong, fun, loud future for Denver music, and there are plenty more of them on the same path – or at least similar trails.