Tag Archives: Larimer Lounge

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The Helio Sequence - Photo: William Anthony

The Helio Sequence Bring A Chill to Denver Friday Night

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Along their near two-decade rise in indy music, Brandon Summers and Benjamin Welkel—the duo known in ensemble as The Helio Sequence—haven’t had it entirely easy. Mostly due to Summers’ near career- and band-ending vocal troubles in the mid aughts, the band seemed doomed for a few years. But lifestyle changes, dedication and vocal exercises pushed Summers back into performance in time to record their fourth album, “Keep Your Eyes Ahead.”  That same dedication has resulted in a pretty strong sixth effort, their self-titled new album released last month on Sub Pop. The Helio Sequence is on tour across North America now, and stopping tomorrow night in the Larimer Lounge, with Lost Lander and Reuben Hollebon, so you have a chance to catch the chill first hand.

The two compiled the ten songs as part of a game with their Portland friends called the “20-Song Game.” The rules were to record 20 songs in one day, then have a listening party with the other bands and musicians to hear the results. It was also meant to be a creative exercise, to help musicians push through creative blocks, to create in the moment, and to learn to take the good with the bad. According to Sub Pop’s press release, Summers and Welkel didn’t quite stick with the progress as planned, and instead decided they’d stretch the exercise out to a month, make as much music as possible in that time, and apply it to the creation of their next album.

Here’s a sample: “Stoic Resemblance,” from “The Helio Sequence”

“The Helio Sequence” album, though satisfying overall, is surprisingly a little tame itself—even for another chillwave offering. While you can hear a new sense of urgency in the songs—it’s evident that they were moving from one experiment to the next pretty quickly (they actually came up with 26 songs over the course of the month, and kept ten for the record). But there’s also a subtle repetition from beginning to end—maybe the result of moving too quickly.

“Battle Lines” starts the record slowly, with a great summer-psychedelia feel, showing off more of Summers’ guitar work (which, perhaps fittingly, recalls work by the iconic Andy Summers, who, along with Stewart Copeland, formed the strongest portion of great ’80s band The Police, albeit with a little Pixies’ roughness).The next highlight is “Stoic Resemblance,” (listen to the MP3 above) a pretty perfect summer afternoon soundtrack mainstay. Welkel’s drumming across the record remains strong and innovative. “Red Shifting” moves in with an anthemic feel, and leads into maybe the album’s best piece, “Upward Mobility” (see the beautifully animated video below).

By most accounts, though, the duo’s live set is more than strong. Don’t miss the chance to catch this still-climbing Portland Chillwave duo at the Larimer Lounge, Friday, June 5th, and see for yourself.


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Angel Olsen Brings Her Sultry, Heartbroken Yodel to Denver Monday Night

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Angel Olsen will bring her sultry, heartbroken yodel - and her powerful songwriting - to the Larimer Lounge monday night. You don't want to miss this one. (Photo: Zia Anger)

Angel Olsen will bring her sultry, heartbroken yodel – and her powerful songwriting – to the Larimer Lounge monday night. You don’t want to miss this one. (Photo: Zia Anger)

With a voice that warbles with Slim Whitman‘s famous yodel and holds June Carter Cash‘s throaty, confident depth, Angel Olsen will be serenading a smallish Colorado crowd this Monday night, March 10th, in the perfectly appropriate intimacy of the Larimer Lounge. Olsen has been an indy music darling over the past few months, with some pretty fawning coverage in Spin Magazine, a Tiny Desk Concert on NPR, and some heavyweight status at next week’s SXSW festival, all of it well-deserved.

With nothing but a guitar and her sultry voice – including a haunting yodel she wields like a cold, lonely weapon – Olsen portrays loneliness, heartbreak and yearning on a deep, intensely personal level. So personal, in fact, that sometimes her confessional style approaches the incongruous and disconnected style of Jandek –  music’s ultimate outsider. But she comes back strong within each song with a wave of sensuous beauty that threatens to overwhelm, following along songwriting steps laid by the great Leonard Cohen.

She’ll be supporting her powerful second record – Burn Your Fire for No Witness, released on Jagjaguwar Records on February 18, 2014 – at the Lounge Monday night, her last US show before the SXSW gig, after which she’s headed to conquer Europe for a while. Be sure to get there before she gets too big for this kind of intimacy. Listen for her yearning in the steamy “White Fire,” or the quiet torment in “Lights Out,” and try not to be taken in.

Here’s a video of “High Five,” from the new record. Don’t miss this show – unless you’re resigned to being OK with just finding her along with everyone else next week.


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Beware of Darkness – Orthodox, the DenverThread Record Inter/Review

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Beware of Darkness is on the upswing - and just appeared in Denver last week. (Photo: Rebecca Joelson)

Beware of Darkness is on the upswing – and just appeared in Denver last week. (Photo: Rebecca Joelson)

LA’s Beware of Darkness played the Larimer Lounge a few days ago, and those of you who were there no doubt saw a hi-energy performance that will likely be relegated to many “Were you there when…” threads of conversation soon enough.  If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s probably just a matter of time before you will. Beware of Darkness is on an upswing – and that’s a good thing.

Their hometown pedigree notwithstanding, this power trio has a lot going for it that actually sets them apart from the usual LA fare. Remember Mother Love Bone – the proto-grunge glam-metal outfit fronted by Andrew Wood that spawned most of Pearl Jam (and arguably the Seattle explosion itself)? Beware follows in those pretty large footsteps, and adds some Black Crowes swagger, and  almost Beatles-esque songwriting on their debut record. “Orthodox.” Heavy in guitar, this record is a solid, straight up rock ‘n roll record. Sure, there are debut record shortcomings, but the overall feeling of this one is that it’ll lead to more good stuff from the band.

The first single, “Howl,” bleeds Billy Corgan with it’s central riff, but quickly evolves into a raucus scream, not self-conscious at all. Other tracks like “Sweet Girl” smack of pop, while others wax anthemic – like “Amen Amen” or “All Who Remain” – and don’t carry the swagger through, but the balance of this record makes for a strong debut. 

I got the change recently to speak with an erudite and delightful Kyle Nicolaides – frontman/guitarist from  – as he re-strung his guitar for the Denver show, and learned a few things about the beautifuyl women in Denver and the power of the Used Record Bin.

Read on, to get a taste, below the link to the strong “Holy Men” (not on the new record):

DenverThread: How’s the tour going?

Kyle Nicolaides: “Great  – Denver is one of our favorite places to play…. Everything seems so healthy here – Denver has the most beautiful women in any of the places we’ve played…”

DT: Coming from an LA native, that means a lot.

KN: “But it’s a different kind of beauty – it’s a natural beauty. It feels organic here. It’s nice. Walking down the street, it seems everyone is just leaving their yoga class or something.”

DT: Tell me about the band name – any relation to George Harrison’s tune from 1970?

KN: “It has everything to do with it- I got that record at Amoeba. An y’know when I was growing up in Santan Barbara, all the CDs were like $20 – that’s why people are pirating music, by the way – and when I got to LA,  I went to Amoeba records, and found the used bins. They’re a musical lifesaver – and when you’re broke, the used record bins are beautiful. You can lay down a few bucks for a cd – or less – and learn about so much music. That’s where I got the record, and it just stayed with me – especially that song. That record really stuck with me – it was like the first one I’d found that actually tried to express someone’s belief system with pop music – tried to make someone’s life a little better.”

KN: “It’s so important – y’know – I remember I was on Wilshire in LA one day when we were thinking of a band name, and I saw the record and the title “Beware of Darkness,” and I thought – hey, that could be a cool name. And it means so much, too – about watching out for negativity & all that.

DT: And George Harrison has always been that way – always so deep, spiritual, and so often so underrated…

KN: “Yeah! And the title of that song is so much like our music, my attitude. I mean, it’s “BE AWARE” of the darkness. Y’know, you can choose not to fall into the darkness. I just feel like there are so many people who don’t realize they have that choice, y’know? Life is like that – you can meet a challenge, or deal with something by choosing to take it on, or you can react in a programmed, reactionary way. Life is like that, and so is our music.”

DT: Does the name get a few heads to turn? It seems like such a typical Doom/Metal/sludge sounding name – which your band decidedly is not.

 I like Smashing Pumpkins, but I’m not the biggest fan of Nirvana. I mean, when these bands were playing, I wasn’t even conscious! 

KN: “Yeah – everyone always thinks we’re going to be some thrash metal band – and obviously we’re not. Every time we go to the UK, as soon as they hear our name they laugh. And – even now – the sound guy here is blasting metal out there while I’m re-stringing. I had to tell them they had to get this guy to stop playing metal. It’s like he’s warming up the crowd…and we’re not that band.”

DT: How about influences? You’re definitely rocking a ‘90s sound – full of Smashing Pumpkins, a little Alice in Chains, Primal Scream, maybe even a little Black Crowes swagger?

KN: “That’s so funny, ‘cause i never listened to them [all those ’90s bands]. I mean, I like Smashing Pumpkins, but I’m not the biggest fan of Nirvana. I mean, when these bands were playing, I wasn’t even conscious! I liked some of the Alice in Chains from then, but just the acoustic stuff, and a little Soundgarden – but everyone hears that sound in us.”

DT: It’s not a bad thing, necessarily – I think it might be your huge guitar sound – and you have an almost Black Crowes or Mick Jagger swagger in your voice and guitar – so there’s a’60s base and a ‘90s cover, maybe.

KN: “When we recorded this album, I was listening to Fiona Apple and David Bowie more than anything else. But we do get the ’90s comparison a lot.”

DT: You sound a lot older than your media kit makes you look – you’re obviously a thoughtful person. How old are you?

KN: “Thanks! I just turned 23, actually.”

DT: Well – you’re a man wise beyond his years – both musically and phiolosophically (as much as I can get from a 10- minute chat, anyway).

KN: “I hope – I believe that’ll serve me well  – that it’ll turn out good for me, and help me through a lot of things. I think so. I’m a pretty positive person.”

DT: I do, too. Just keep digging through the used record bins, and you’ll never really get old.

 

 


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Hi-Strung are on their way to becoming one of Denver's best, behind Samantha Doom's bass and insight.

New Local Threads: Hi-Strung – “Malfunction” Review

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Hi-Strung are on their way to becoming one of Denver's best, behind Samantha Doom's bass and insight.

Hi-Strung are on their way to becoming one of Denver’s best, behind Samantha Doom’s bass and insight.

Concept albums often seem to ride a dangerous road – too easy to marginalize of the story doesn’t carry, or if it’s too sentimental. Too easy to ridicule if the story takes over the music. Too easily misunderstood – and therefore run over roughshod by critics. Which is why it’s pretty refreshing to listen to Denver band Hi-Strung’s brand new effort “Malfunction.”  Nine songs  – more bits and pieces of lead singer/bassist/songstress Samantha “Doom” Donen’s interpretation of the inevitable effects of romance – strung together to tell a story we’re all way too familiar with.

Check out the title song: Hi-Strung – Malfunction

Doom has a long history in the Denver scene, having played with bands like Overcasters, Hexen, The Blackouts and others since moving here from Canada. Hi-Strung is her first self-driven project, and well-deserved. “Malfunction” is the first of (hopefully) many efforts – also a side effect of Doom’s period of recovery from a major accident a few years ago. The new record’s a fitting tribute to that recovery – solid, strong, haunting and unique.

"Malfunction" is Hi-Strung's symphonic post-punk new release. Hits the streets March 16, 2013.

“Malfunction” is Hi-Strung’s symphonic post-punk new release. Hits the streets March 16, 2013.

Starting with the giddily and appropriately named “Happy,” this record travels down the rabbit  hole of a weekend – or a lifetime – as the main character stumbles  through what Hi-Strung seems to believe is the inevitability of heartbreak, disarray and finally self-discovery through annihilation – “Kamikaze” style – that comes with love.

It’s a common theme, for sure – one of Rock n’ Roll’s cardinal themes – which makes it easy to relate to, but also opens the band up to overwhelming commonalities – and potential obscurity. Fortunately, Doom and the rest of the band – Danielle Wells on cello Shane Hartman (Black Lamb) on drums, Brian Fausett (Hexen) on guitar and Maia Fortis on electric violin and vox – portray the story with a strong symphonic pop hook and intriguing post-punk flavor. Wells’ cello weaves in and out of the wail of Fortis’ brilliant violin, both of which are accented by Fausett’s solid psychedelic guitar work. The mix is almost cinematic, infectuos and definitely becomes subdural.

Doom’s vocals – sometimes she evokes the more guttural side of Johnette Napolitano, others just a little like Dale Bozio, but always strong, haunting – anchor the band and the tale alongside her heavy, thumping bass and Hartman’s thunderous drums. There are times – in the midst of the frenetically beautiful “Snap,” or the wailing “Malfunction,” for instance, that she leaves the music and becomes the voice in your own head, swirling in the whirlpool of misread intentions and dashed hopes that too often become the trademark of romance. The buildup half of the album  – “Happy” (the elation of new prospects, excitement, hope), “Weird” (assimilating the other person) “Big Bang” (the lust session, appropriately) and “Lullaby” mimic the early “salad days” well – with almost Shakespearian progress. When you hit “Snap,” you know where  the main character is headed, and Hi-Strung does a fantastic job breaking the whole thing open.

Samantha Doom on thunderstick and heartbreak, in front of Hi-Strung.

Samantha Doom on thunderstick and heartbreak, in front of Hi-Strung.

Sir Richard Burton’s “George” in Edward Albee‘s brilliant “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff,” one of cinema’s most poignant representations of the drama that envelopes our bleary visions of love in comparison to the realities of our relationships – spoke of “Historical inevitability.” In his case it was the central theme of his life, made real by the constant cuckolding and malformed hell of the relationship he shared with Elizabeth Taylor’s “Martha.” No – I’m not equating “Malfunction” with as long-standing and weighty a masterpiece as “Wolff,” but there’s definitely a sharing of minds between Doom’s and Burton’s vision of the trappings of romance. Both are believers, it seems in the historical inevitability of heartbreak.

In Hi-Strung’s case, though, there’s a light at the end – where the character of this tale emerges from the mess newly aware, after killing herself (romantically speaking) in “Kamikaze.” If this record’s any indication, there seems to also be some bright, exciting light looming for this band as well.


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METZ is invading - but they're Canucks, so it's cool. (Photo: Colin Medley)

REVERB Review – METZ, Live at Larimer Lounge, 11-12-12

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METZ is invading - but they're Canucks, so it's cool. (Photo: Colin Medley)

METZ is invading – but they’re Canucks, so it’s cool. (Photo: Colin Medley)

If you’re unfamiliar with METZ, you’re behind on the buzz. Their loud, crunchy, loud, fun, loud, shit-hot, loud and aggressive (did we mention LOUD??!!) style is exploding into venues and destroying hipsters in its wake. It was on display last night at the Larimer Lounge, and we were there with HeyReverb.com. Take a few minutes to catch the review, and then come back to listen to the Canuck’s brand of explosion below.

Here’s an excerpt of the review:

Aside from some pleasingly shattered eardrums, the biggest danger during the sonic rant was the lack of sufficient people to catch stage divers, or enough critical mass to keep the mosh pit from disintegrating. But each of the flailing fans was committed, smitten, and leveled by the cacophony.

Metz, fronted by the screaming yet humble Alex Edkins and anchored by bassist Chris Slorach and drummer Hayden Menzies, is compared to noisy, aggressive bands like The Jesus Lizard or Pissed Jeans, but there was more “Confusion Is Sex”-era Sonic Youth with a heavy dose of Loop emanating from these Canucks last night.

Catch the entire interview, along with many more, at HeyReverb.com

And now take a few minutes to enjoy METZ – “Wet Blanket.”

[ca_audio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/METZ-Wet-Blanket.mp3.mp3″ width=”500″ height=”27″ css_class=”codeart-google-mp3-player”]

Watch for these guys to lead the Canucks into our borders. But don’t worry – they’re already hipsters. No need to reform immigration or anything.


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Mike Watt and The Missingmen, live at Larimer Lounge, April, 2011 (Photo: Mike McGrath)

Mike Watt – the DenverThread Interview: Touring Econo, Jamming Austere, Pure Dada

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“Actually, Chuck Dukowski built the circuit we’re all still touring on,” pointed out Mike Watt, as I watched him from the other side of a Skype video chat recently.  Watt was responding to my (constant) amazement at the legendary touring virility he’s been an integral part of for the past thirty years with his many bands – including Minutemen, fIREHOSE, now the Stooges, and his currently touring trio, the Missingmen.

Our conversation rambled on for about a half hour, but the always efficient Watt covered some major ground in that short time. From his current stint with the Stooges, to some of the history of Minutemen and his beloved San Pedro (CA), to the tour he was bout to kick off in a few days, he led me on a musical, improvisational, stream-of-thought journey – and kept his reputation as one of rock’s nicest guys you’d ever want to talk to.

The “Black Flag Tour Experience”

Mike Watt's got charisma. (Photo: Brooklyn Vegan)

Mike Watt’s got charisma. (Photo: Brooklyn Vegan)

“I’ve been doing that for over 30 years,” he added. “That’s the good thing about Michael [Azerrad], when he wrote that book – he got the title form one of my songs – “Our Band Could Be Your Life,” he continued. “Before that, I remember there was all kinds of stuff – like on PBS and shit – all kinds of stuff that went from The Sex Pistols to Nirvana, and they tried to say there was nothing in between.”

“Things come and go – things change. But, y’know, the way I tour hasn’t changed.  It’s still where you count on people to be in those towns, to have a scene going when you come to town.”

But there was something in between – a lot of somethings. There was Watt’s life, for one, along with a whole slew of underground, mostly hardcore punk acts like Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Minor Threat and more, that formed the so-often ignored musical bridge between  ‘70s US and British Punk and the early ‘90s Grunge thing that grew out of it. Before Nirvana’s stardom finally “legitimized” Punk Rock for the millions.

Watt is still touring the same way, now with his latest trio, The Missingmen, which features Watt on bass (or “thunderstick,” or “thud staff”), Tom Watson on guitar and Raul Morales on drums. They’re covering the world with the latest, third installment of an opera he essentially started regurgitating three albums and fifteen years ago with “Contemplating the Engine Room.” After that classic album and 2004’s “The Secondman’s Middle Stand,” and the regimen of touring that led him pretty much everywhere on the globe, Watt found himself in a position where he could finally face another part of that musical bridge: his longtime best friend and co-conspirator, and Minutemen’s legendary leader, D. Boon.

Documenting the Past

“When he got killed in that wreck, I couldn’t really listen to the Minutemen,” said Watt. “It would make me sad too much.  And then – you know about this documentary, “We Jam Econo”?  These two guys – they were too young to see us – in fact, the whole documentary is kind of about how they found out about us. And I had to, y’know, they wanted me to drive them around town, and go through the albums,” he added. “So I had to listen again. When I did, I was like ‘Whoa! I wanna try this again!’”

Watt onstage, circa 2005. (Photo: Mike Watt)

Watt onstage, circa 2005. (Photo: Mike Watt)

Once Watt heard the short, minimal tunes, along with Boon’s screaming, high-treble guitar style and George Hurley’s frantic drumming, he found he was finally able to get past the tragedy of the loss of his lifelong friend, and face the  desire to make that kind of music again. That music is his masterpiece – or at least the culmination of his journey – entitled “hyphenated-man.” Watt and The Missingmen will be here in Denver next Thursday night, October 4th, at the Larimer Lounge, to give you all a chance to see and hear the stream-of-conscious, Coltrane-soaked genius of the whole thing.

Hell – in a real perfect world, it would only be about two minutes long, because I’d play all thirty parts at the same time!

“Both the first  – “Contemplating the Engine Room” – and the second “The Secondman’s Middle Stand” are about the old days,” Watt explained. “The first one’s about Minutemen, and D Boon, and the second one’s about this sickness that almost killed me.”

“Both of those had beginning-middle-end – one had a happy ending, one had a sad ending. So  – I didn’t want to repeat myself – so, I was using elements of the old days, and I didn’t want to talk about those days,” he continued. “I wanted to talk about now. In a perfect world, there wasn’t any beginning-middle-end – it was all middle. Hell – in a real perfect world, it would only be about two minutes long, because I’d play all thirty parts at the same time!” (laughs).

Touring Econo – Still

“Things come and go – things change,” said Watt about the tour, as we talked just a few days before the first gig would kick off in Ballard, Washington. “But, y’know, the way I tour hasn’t changed.  It’s still where you count on people to be in those towns, to have a scene going when you come to town.”

So now, The Missingmen put on a show that’s non-stop, 45 minutes of scraping, chunky guitar, thundering bass and Watt’s signature guttural drawl. It’s a set filled with more than 30 songs – or maybe 30 parts of one song – and Watt wants to put it out there in the way he hears it – in shotgun blasts.

Watt & the "thud staff" (Photo: Mike Watt)

Watt & the “thud staff” (Photo: Mike Watt)

“One good thing about this tour, this piece – this’ll be the fourth tour of it,” he explained. “We really know it now – we know it a lot more now than we did. There’s a lot of parts in that fucker!  We let it get into our muscles – into our muscle memory – because in the head – I tell you.”

“Tell you what – the first tours – it was a nightmare,” he went on to illustrate, “and I know that was the only way to really learn it. I mean, we prac at the prac pad, but the real prac is doing it for people. So – we’ve really made it into a living, breathing entity here.”

Which is kind of the best way to describe the opera, really. I saw it last time he was through Denver – also at the Larimer Lounge – in April of 2011, and I remember it starting like a quick slap to the side of the  head, and then filling the place like an uncomfortable stomach bubble until it burst and bathed the whole place with sweaty, frantic and funky jazz-punk. And then the trio dared us to take a breath.

“Really – I have so much respect for Tom Watson and Raul Morales for wrapping their spirits around this thing,” he said. “Y’know – this isn’t just parts that they learned, they really know this thing, like they wrote it. It’s really beautiful.”

“I think this is just the third time for me at this newer place, Larimer Lounge. And people are very nice. But this one guy was very upset,” Watt reminisced. “Y’know when I do this opera, it’s this 45 minute thing in various parts and I don’t want to stop, but this man wanted to discuss something with me (laughs) in the middle of the piece! Hopefully he didn’t think I was tryin’ to be some kind of weirdo! I was just tryin’ to focus.”

Missingmen: Origins

Mike Watt is so busy – like the James Brown of Punk Rock, maybe – that it seems he’d have no more time for another tour. He’s still playing – after nine years – with The Stooges, he’s spearheading a Japanese hardcore scene (one bad of which – LITE – he’s bringing along with The Missingmen for this leg of the tour), he’s constantly recording and producing tributes, songs and records – many on his own label clenchedwrench – it’s mind-boggling. But he still has time for his Missingmen, something that began with that simple desire to play that old Minutemen minimalist style again.

‘Look – I’ll make one big thing out of all these little parts – like we did in the old days. Except, I’ll talk about right now. I won’t talk about the old days’

“… all fairness to George Hurley and D. Boon, I shouldn’t be rippin’ off my old band,”Watt explained to me. “So I thought, ‘Well – I couldn’t – don’t want to make it totally “Happy Days,” which would be all poppy & shit – so, I’ll write about right now! Which will be the middle aged punk rocker – something I would have never wrote about before!”

"hyphenated-man" and Bosch (Cover: Mike Watt)

“hyphenated-man” and Bosch (Cover: Mike Watt)

“It made me think about being on tour with the Stooges in Madrid,” he added, “and they got this museum there called the Prado. And in it they got six or seven Heironymous Bosch paintings.  It was something I always liked as a kid, Bosch – his depictions of all these creatures and shit. I saw the actual things – done by his hands – over 500 years ago.“

“When I was a boy, I was into astronauts & dinosaurs, y’know,” he went on, “space race & creatures. And so maybe some of these creatures look kinda like dinosaurs & space race, and when you focus, and then step back, you see all of these things make one big thing. And I thought ‘Whoa! That’s kind of like a Minutemen gig!’ So I kinda got the idea: ‘Look – I’ll make one big thing out of all these little parts – like we did in the old days. Except, I’ll talk about right now. I won’t talk about the old days’”

Watt went on to explain how The Missingmen came about, just for this part, this third part of the opera, the “Hyphenated Man” gig: “The Missingmen was put together – It was really focused – I put this outfit together to do this opera. Tom Watson was from Slovenly – he was from the older days. Played for Minutemen, even,” he explained. “Me and D Boon put out the first Slovenly records, and he was from here. Well – he ain’t from Pedro, he’s from Manhattan Beach, but it ain’t too far away. Now he plays kind of treble – I think maybe some D Boon influence in his guitar playing – but he’s a real link from those old days.”

“Raul – when the punk scene came into being out here in Pedro in the ‘90s,” he went on, “I wasn’t even aware of it, I was touring so much. In the old days, y’know, Minutemen – we were the only punk rockers in town. There wasn’t even a scene really – so I was really surprised.”

“In fact,” he added, “there were some people even moving into town to be a part of this scene! They were hosting bands to play in their living rooms, in these house gigs.   I found Raul – he’s kinda part of Minutemen, he’s like a, uh, grandson or something,” he explained.

“He’s part of Minutemen, too, because, part of this opera was – in a way – to kind of indulge myself.  I wanted to do that form again.”

And doing that form again is exactly what this is.

Iggy & The Stooges, and There’s Dada

Watt’s been playing for The Stooges now since they inducted him in 2003. To say it’s been a dream come true is kind of an understatement, according to him.

Watt with Iggy, circa 2004 (Photo: Mike Watt)

Watt with Iggy, circa 2004 (Photo: Mike Watt)

“It’s very surrealistic to me. It’s been 9½ years now, and  y’know, we wouldn’t even have had a punk scene without  the Stooges, and I owe them my best notes,” he said. “It’s helped me become a much better bass player. They’re all very interesting gentlemen – and I’m finally the youngest guy in the band.”

The latest incarnation of the Stooges is still touring – Watt just played with the band  few days after we spoke, in Europe – with legendary frontman Iggy Pop, Scott Asheton and James Williamson (Stooges guitarist on the classic Raw Power LP), onboard after the death of Scott’s brother Ron in 2009. To hear Watt describe it, the power of the Stooges is till there, still raw.

“I’ve got to play with some cats who  are really sincere – about the same kind of things I am. I mean, how do you find things like that?”

“It’s like being in a classroom – I love it,” he went on. “These last 9½ years seem to have gone by in 5 minutes. It’s almost like I’m like a kid – but I need to focus, to play with these guys. These songs have been in my head for so many years before that – it’s pretty surreal.”

“First time I was sitting in the chair – me & Thurston [Moore] were doing the soundtrack with Ronnie [Asheton] for the movie “Velvet Goldmine,” and Ronnie starts playing “TV Eye,” just a few feet away from me. I couldn’t believe it. That was the sound – it was that sound.”

“That’s one thing I gotta say,” Watt reminisced. “I’ve been very lucky. I mean, besides, yeah, getting to play with the Stooges. But even with my own music. I’ve got to play with some cats who  are really sincere – about the same kind of things I am.”

“I mean, how do you find things like that? I mean, I grew up with D Boon, y’know? And so it was  kind of an extension of the way we used to hang out,” he added. “Y’know – we were together. The other thing was – well, I think it came out in the movement, too.”

Mike Watt also related the early Punk Rock scene – that same one he helped to build, and that made that bridge between the Sex Pistols and Nirvana – to the early days of the last century, particularly in Art. He’s not the first to have done it – look at Greil Marcus’s “Lipstick Traces” for a whole damned treatise on the subject. But Watt did live a lot of it, and it was Watt’s memory we were talking about.

“Even though D. Boon was a painter and stuff, we didn’t know about dada. We didn’t really know any of all of that,” Watt explained. “These people in the middle of a war got this kinda – there were a lot of similarities between our scene and dada and the surrealists in the 20s. This dada thing – what I’m finding out is that there are echoes of other movements in all of this.”

It makes sense, too, when  you relate what Watt said to his music. Not only is there a hefty dose of Coltrane’s “Meditations,” a sloppy helping of electric, bass-string-bound scat and funk, but there’s also a discernible flavor of John Cage, or Marcel Duchamp. It’s this strain that lifts Missingmen –  and that lifted D. Boon and Minutemen – up and over the movement, and it’s that stream that’s keeping it alive in Mike Watt now.

“The important thing is that you gotta find your own voice, rather than being a Xerox machine or a cookie cutter – of course,” explained Watt. “Everybody brings a lot of themselves to it, too – but then a lot of this stuff is kind of – dare say – traditional? Preserving something, some old ethics – like silly politics.”

“ You try to bring back some of the stuff from the old days, and then try to be a little progressive,” he said, chuckling, ”and then all of a sudden you have to wear a certain type of tin foil hat.”

Dada.

Definitely dada.


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"The Love Project" attempts to capture that intangible evidence of connection. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

What/Where This Weekend? The “Love Project” debuts, and Sunder plays at the Larimer Lounge

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"The Love Project" attempts to capture that intangible evidence of connection. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

"The Love Project" attempts to capture that intangible evidence of connection. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

As usual, with as many choices as there are any weekend in our burgh – and this weekend is V-Day, to boot – it helps to have a few choices pointed out by a friend or two.  So here’s our latest “Who’s Playin’ What, Where!?” for this weekend, and into next week. Trust us – neither of these events will be less than awesome. It’d be terrible of us to steer you wrong, right?

But seriously, these two events promise to be unforgettable, and we think you should be at both of them. . . .

The Love Project: A Denver photographer looks into spiritual, physical, intimate connections for a few seconds, and shows incalculable depth, passion, and truth.

The Love Project portrays something we can all see, but often only in and from ourselves

The Love Project portrays something we can all see, but often only in and from ourselves. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

Lucia De Giovanni is a native of Italy, and was married at 19 when she began her search for love – too early, perhaps, but her vision was marred in just the right way by the seven-year experience. This Sunday, her years-long project (still in progress) to capture something from couples in love by taking a mere 60 seconds of photographs, meets the public at the Flobots’ Community Space on 27th & Larimer, for one night only.

De Giovanni  is a stalwart of the Denver community, having shot hundreds of bands for Denver Post Reverb over recent years, and running her own freelance photographer position successfully enough to be able to focus on some major projects to feed her own artist’s soul, as well as all of ours. Besides “The Love Project,” De Giovanni has also undertaken – and completely financed – the “My Life” project, which endeavors to photograph people in hospices as they ready for their exit from life. The “My Life” project spanned three years before she had to put it on hold (due to the fact that her own funding was running out), and she photographed hundreds of people in some of the most beautiful, terrifying, peaceful and dignified moments in their lives.

Lucia De Giovanni is the creative force that has offered us a look into the bond between lovers. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

Lucia De Giovanni is the creative force that has offered us a look into the bond between lovers. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

This weekend’s one night stand will feature all 75 of De Giovanni’s photos from “The Love Project.” As the Denver Post’s John Moore reported recently, “The Love Project” came out of De Giovanni’s deep desire to “… figure out how to recognize real love,” as a result of her last breakup. The methodology of each shoot is to open the shutter quickly, again and again and again, for one minute, and one minute only, as the couple in question attempts to show her their love. One and only one photograph is chosen to represent the couple, and becomes a vision of their connection.

"The Love Project" does an inspirationally beautiful job at uncovering the natures of love, throughout all ages, between every couple. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

"The Love Project" does an inspirationally beautiful job at uncovering the natures of love, throughout all ages, between every couple. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

In all cases, these impressions are intense, real, emotional and deeply soulful pictures of a truly intangible thing. As do the pictures from her “My Life” project.

“If I had to describe a commonality with the couples,” De Giovanni pointed out in an interview with DenverThread, “I would say that they’re all linked by the same colored thread – that’s why the logo is simply perfect.  Love is such an abstract concept, but I see a bond, a strength that comes from knowing that someone loves you, someone has your back.  There is serenity, joy and peace in each photo.” And you can see it in every one of De Giovanni’s choices.

All 75 photographs are featured in a self-published book that De Giovanni is selling, and it can be ordered online. “…the book is a fine art photo book, 13×11, hardcover, premium paper with luster finish,  and will be sold in limited editions while self-published,” she explained. While there are talks with a few publishers to pick the book up, nothing is final yet. The book can be purchased here.

As for the future of these two, massive projects, De Giovanni had this to say:

The Love Project can be ordered and revisited in book form. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

The Love Project can be ordered and revisited in book form. (Photo: Lucia De Giovanni)

“The LOVE Project continues – the couples are Phase I, all under the same umbrella of LOVE…. I am taking some time to design  the right approach and schedule – love comes in many different forms, I want to try and capture as many as I can!!!”

“The “My Life” project is on hold – it has pretty much exhausted my savings, as I funded it on my own for three years.  If I can find a hospice or sponsor to back me up, I’d love to see it reinstated – and my goal would be to set up chapters all around the world, training photographers to provide this service free of charge, doing it the “right” way.  I stay hopeful.  Maybe a grant, something… So many people want to see it grow ….”

Take some time to see these incredible photographs this weekend, and make your Valentine’s day even more special. Meet up at the Flobots’ Community Space at 2705 Larimer St., from 8 – 11 PM.

Add some sacred time to the day – you’ll love it.

Saturday, February 12, Larimer Lounge: Sunder, opening for Casey James Prestwood & the Burning Angels

Sunder bring their pristine shoegaze country to the Larimer this weekend. (photo: Sunder)

Sunder bring their pristine shoegaze country to the Larimer this weekend. (photo: Sunder)

One of Denver’s newest foursomes, Sunder, could be described as one of the band’s friends pointed out on Facebook recently: “Shoe gaze country bastards.” Pigeonholing, to be sure – and with a certain expertise and grasp of both genres – but not too far off. From what I’ve heard of the band, a cold, hard winter-in-Wisconsin-soil  and a dusting of shoegaze noise are a core feature. If you remember Codeine (the band, not the pharmaceutical – well, maybe the drug as well …), or swoon to the heavy, quiet movements of Low, then you’re going to love Sunder.

Sunder includes members from other successful local bands (surprise – Denver seems so incestuous at times, but the results hold their own): Bryon parker (drums) also plays in Accordion Crimes, Mike Perfetti (vocals, guitar) plays in Ideal Fathers and Todd Spriggs (bass) also plays for Light Travels Faster. They’re joined by guitarist Danny White in making a desolate, lonely and almost frigid sort of Americana, steeped in quiet heartbreak.

Catch them before they take over, Saturday, February 12, at the Larimer Lounge $8 cover. Show up early!

Need proof? Check out this sample of their latest, “No Control”:

[wpaudio url=”http://www.denverthread.com/wp-content/themes/mimbo/sounds/01 No Control.mp3″ text=”Sunder – No Control”]


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Reverend Peyton led his Big Damn Band in a wild set of country-blues-punk at the Larimer last Saturday night. (Photo by Joshua Elioseff/Reverb)

The Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band @ the Larimer Lounge, 01/09/10 – Reverb

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Reverend Peyton led his Big Damn Band in a wild set of country-blues-punk at the Larimer last Saturday night. (Photo by Joshua Elioseff/Reverb)

Reverend Peyton led his Big Damn Band in a wild set of country-blues-punk at the Larimer last Saturday night. (Photo by Joshua Elioseff/Reverb)

Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band kicked off their tour of the American West last Saturday night at the Larimer Lounge fresh and full of their characteristically furious country blues spirit, and added some punchy humor to the mix, to boot. The Larimer turned out to be the perfect place to start and provided a packed house of enthusiastic fans — most in rockabilly garb, and many with facial hair-dos that gave the 28-year-old Reverend’s coiffed beard a run for its money.

Catch the entire Live Review at Denver Post Reverb, and Joshua Elioseff’s photos HERE.


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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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Riverboat Gamblers, Kill City Bombers, Pitch Invasion @ Larimer Lounge, 09/15/09

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Riverboat Gamblers played a hot set of cool punk at Larimer Lounge last Tuesday. Photo from MySpace

Riverboat Gamblers played a hot set of cool punk at Larimer Lounge last Tuesday. Photo from MySpace

Most of the time, when I hear the moniker “melodic punk,” “neo-punk” or “modern punk” added to a band’s description, I’m immediately turned off, or at least hesitant to see them. I’ll admit it – I’m biased. There are simply too many bands out there playing an overproduced, too clean and tight brand of “punk,” with sounds loosely based on bands like Sex Pistols, The Exploited and Stiff Little Fingers, but with little or no depth and often no substance – and you can catch more than you’d really want to on any installment of Vans’ Warped tours over the past decade.

I spent my adolescence and young adulthood chasing punk bands like those originals I mentioned above across the states (and some of them in Europe) to see them anytime I could. I trolled small record stores all over, buying everything I could get my hands on. After so many years, they’ve been a part of my mental soundtrack, so deeply imbedded that hearing some of the tunes subjects me to an involuntary trip back in time, to an angrier, more desperate time, with a distinct flavoring of Knickerbocker beer, Mad Dog 20/20, and angst. Call me a snob, but I have a hard time not hearing a bunch of kids ripping off the basic structure behind the punk, but leaving out the passion, and too often the talent.

Which is why I was so amped after seeing Texas band Riverboat Gamblers at Larimer Lounge last Tuesday night. Despite sharing nearly all of the characteristics that define many of the other bands in the melodic punk genre, Gamblers are head and shoulders above any I’ve heard in a while, both in skill and passion. Fronted by Mike Wiebe, along with his seemingly endless energy and charm, on vocals and Fadi el-Assad on lead guitar, the five piece put on a high octane, engrossing and fun set for about an hour on the Larimer’s low stage, and the packed back room did all they could (unsuccessfully) to egg the band on for another hour.

Riverboat Gamblers have a wild stage presence, as seen here in a photo of a recent show in Austin. Photo from MySpace

Riverboat Gamblers have a wild stage presence, as seen here in a photo of a recent show in Austin. Photo from MySpace

Ian MacDougall (guitar), Rob Marchant (bass) and Eric Green (drums) rounded out the band, and kept the band’s machine-gun rhythm constant, while Wiebe ran across the stage again and again, decked out in a dark shirt with tucked-in tie and slacks, repeatedly bouncing off the room’s north wall to expend even more excess energy. More than anything they reminded me of Hives, after being inoculated with a stiff dose of punk rock to add even more edginess to the powerpop.

Riverboat Gamblers on their "A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology" single.

Riverboat Gamblers on their "A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology" single.

As manic as the band appeared, the feeling in the room never felt out of control, and Wiebe’s charisma was largely responsible. Between coaxing the audience into wild singalongs during a setlist that included “A Choppy, Yet Sincere Apology,” “Hey! Hey! Hey!” and “Rattle Me Bones,” he simultaneously chided the situation and comforted the audience about our crumbling economy, and about how impressed he was that so many had come out on a Tuesday night. The highlight of the show had to be when Wiebe cajoled the crowd to crouch to their knees, and then come up screaming “G-A-M-B-L-E-R-S!!’ again and again, in an exercise that recalled the famous Otis Redding “Shout” movement from “Animal House,” but with a more punk-filled, happy angst.

I saw two of the three Denver bands that opened for Gamblers: Kill City Bombers (most of whom used to be in a local band called The Allergies a few years ago), and rising SoCal hardcore aficionados Pitch Invasion. Briefly: Pitch Invasion keeps climbing in the hearts and minds of the Denver scene by offering the most honest, bare-bones SoCal hardcore show the mile high city has to offer. At their sloppy best, Kill City Bombers reminded me of a stage full of Johnny Thunders clones, and they sounded nearly as wasted as Johnny did most of the time. Though that didn’t take anything away from a brilliant cover of Dead Boys’ “Flamethrower Love.”


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Reverb Interview: Fruit Bats

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Eric D. Johnson (center) and his Fruit Bats

Eric D. Johnson (center) and his Fruit Bats

Being part of a successful band is often a double-edged sword: You gain more attention, but it’s not always the right kind. Not that Eric D. Johnson is complaining. The Portland, Ore.-based musician recently became a fixture in indie rock figureheads the Shins. Johnson is a longtime friend and creative confidante of Shins leader James Mercer, so it makes sense that a spot in the Shins’ touring band would morph into something permanent. . .

Read all of John Wenzel’s interview with Fruit Bats on Denver Post Reverb


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Slim Cessna’s Auto Club @ the Larimer Lounge, 07/15/09 – Reverb

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Phot: Slim Cessna

Phot: Slim Cessna

No matter how many times you see them play, the fervor, the excitement, the downright religious intensity Slim Cessna’s Auto Club brings to the stage never seems to fade, though I, like hundreds of other natives, have seen it regularly since they started out in 1992. Last Wednesday’s show at the Larimer Lounge was no exception, despite the fact that the majority of the setlist hasn’t changed much from shows as far back as early 2008. And it’s that spirit that has helped to keep the band one of Denver’s most beloved musical treasures for more than 15 years.

Catch the entire review at Denver Post Reverb!


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