Tag Archives: Meadowlark

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Beer beats weed at Denver’s Project Pabst

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Photos by Michael McGrath, story by Amy McGrath

What happens when a big music festival is sponsored by a major beer manufacturer in a city that’s become one of the international hubs of legal marijuana? In the case of Denver’s Project Pabst, beer culture wins.

The security screening for this festival was the most stringent of any in recent memory. If security is on the hunt for guns and weapons to protect festival-goers, that’s certainly appreciated. But I stood near the entrance on Saturday and watched countless patrons be turned back at the gates for having marijuana in their bags. Later, during Twin Peaks stoney and super-fun set, the band encouraged the audience to light up in their honor…. but few seemed to have weed to light, and if they did light up, security pounced quickly, even deep into the crowd. At least when Project Pabst is in town, it appears that beer culture still beats weed culture.

Ice Cube plays at Project Pabst Denver, 2017. Photo by Michael McGrath, denverthread.com.

Project Pabst brought a strong lineup to its Larimer Street/RiNo street party for the second year in a row, including festival headliner Ice-Cube. Twin Peaks, Phantogram, Danny Brown and Kurt Vile all contributed strong sets to the diverse lineup. We were looking forward to catching a mid-afternoon main stage set from Chicago hip-hop poet No Name but were disappointed to find out she had pulled out of the lineup shortly before the festival, replaced by Denver math-rock outfit Montoneros.

Though the main stage lineup was strong (especially Vile’s dreamy sunset vibes), our favorite sets of the day were found in more intimate environs, on the lovely, sun and art drenched Meadowlark patio, and inside the dark, beer drenched Larimer Lounge. Young Denver trumpet/funk master Wesley Watkins led his project Other Black through a beaming, effervescent set of funked up soul to a joyous crowd at the mid-afternoon Meadowlark.

Kurt Ottaway, longtime powerhouse on the Denver music scene (Overcasters, Tarmints, Twice Wilted) prowled the tiny Larimer Lounge stage out front the excellent Emerald Siam in their pumped-up set of darkly sonic pysch-rock. And providing an interesting sonic counterpoint to the Ice Cube mainstage festival set happening just outside, Denver’s Flaural lit up the Larimer with their substantial but sunny psychedelia.

Other Black plays at Project Pabst Denver, 2017. Photo by Michael McGrath, denverthread.com.

The diverse lineup and inside/outside offerings meant even older Denver music fans, aghast at how the once gritty side of Larimer street has become a highly decorated, homogenous hipster playground, could find something to love at Denver’s Project Pabst- even if they still couldn’t find the weed.

Emerald Siam plays at Project Pabst Denver, 2017. Photo by Michael McGrath, denverthread.com.


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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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