21 August 2007

I went to the Denver Post Underground Music Showcase

Days later and I am still smiling thinking about some of the truly fabulous performances at the 7th UMS. It was only my second Post showcase, and as much as I loved last year's, I think this one was better. There were more bands and venues and all, but I the reason I think it was better for me is that the little more I know about the local music scene made it all the more amazing to see many diverse bands in one place at one time.

Nobody got to see all 80 bands and performers. If they came close they missed out on another experience…spending some quality time and attention to music you love. I had a little itinerary marked out on my line-up sheet, and came close to following it, but it didn't quite work out to schedule. I meant to listen to more stuff in the category "heard good things about them but haven't seen them myself" but ended up being drawn to more familiar favorites. There're reasons why I love what these folks are doing and I just didn't want to miss seeing them.

Here's what I did. Monique and I arrived around 2:00 I think. We wandered around and there wasn't much going on yet and we were hungry so we went up to Senor Burrito for, well, burritos. When we headed back down Broadway there were some sounds of Jack Redell coming out of Fancy Tiger and it sounded pretty good but I wanted to head across the street to Kozo Fine Art Materials store to catch Ben Bergstrand do his solo stuff. I love Cowboy Curse and hearing some of their songs in a quieter presentation was interesting. I imagined kind of a reverse look into the forming of a song.

Next I went down to Indy Ink for the full band version of Porlolo. I think this is the point of the day when I really started smiling. Even the pre-school set was dancing while clutching their sippy cups. I was sad that my kids' vacation at their grandparents had to overlap with this weekend because there were a lot of great all ages shows going on that I think they would've really liked to see. Anyways, I was there and glad to see one of my most favorite bands play songs I still love as much as when I first heard them.

One band I hadn't seen before but got to catch a few songs of were the Frontside Five. It was hard to miss them as they were the only band actually playing in the street. Yeah, like ON Broadway in front of Thrifty Stick, which was hilarious and fun to see.

Then I went up to Fancy Tiger to catch some Joe Sampson and Nathaniel Rateliff singing. It was nice and warm inside the store with all the people, but nobody seemed to mind much. Joe looked pretty cool in those ray-bans he found on the bus. And I love hearing those songs.

I skipped back over to Kozo to listen to a little bit of Monofog's Hayley and Doug. I wished I could see and hear through the glass windows better, but what I could hear sounded cool. Kozo looks to be a nice little quality art store, but unless you made it inside the ten square feet of space between the counter and the band you had to stand on the sidewalk and lament that the big pane glass windows opened. I couldn't hear to well and didn't want to push past people to squeeze inside the store.

But by then it was 5:00 and the 21+ shows were starting up. I crossed the street again to get to the Hi-Dive for another one of my favorites: Cowboy Curse. They sounded good and it was good to get another chance to hear some of those newly written songs. The CC is a dynamic band that knows how to put together a set list properly so you have a nice ride up and down through fast and slow songs and end strong. And boy, they know how to play 'em.

Went down to the 3 Kings to see when Bad Luck City was going to play and heard a little bit of the Widowers, talked to friends and then tried to make it back up to Kozo in time to hear Nathan & Stephen (just Nathan McGarvey and Stephen Till, not the full nine member band of Nathan & Stephen) but ran into John Moore who informed me that they were all done. Might've been my most disappointed moment of the day.

Bad Luck City. I have to admit to a personal partiality to this set. Yes, my boyfriend is in this band, but even if Jeremy weren't playing with BLC, I'd still go out of my way to see them. A great range of captivating sounds in songs that very cleverly draw you in to paying attention and listening a little more than closely than you might've thought you were going to listen. And a very cool moment when Hayley (Monofog) joined Damian in that demon hunting song.

Whew. I was tired after that. Dinner at Swift's. So happy to stop and have a little bit of quiet time (and a cheeseburger.) I was much revived and although it'd already been a full day of music, there was stuff ahead I didn't want to miss.

Tried to get into Kozo's again to hear Jeff Suthers but it was too crowded and I couldn't even hear through the glass, like earlier in the day owing to somebody cranking up the stereo in the apartment building across Ellsworth. Lame. But then I remembered that Bela Karoli was across Broadway again and squeezed in the very very warm Fancy Tiger to listen to one of the most stunning new bands I've heard in recent memory. Double bass, violin, accordion and drums sound amazing together and put that together with Julie Davis's beautiful voice and well, to describe it would sound like I'm gushing. Because I would be.

Porlolo/Joe Sampson/Little Paia/Bad Weather California/Roger Green were at the Irish Rover. Sometimes it's hard to tell where one set ends and another begins because of all the intermingling with these folks. But that's a good thing. They all know each other's songs and clearly appreciate what each other is doing. They slipped out the back door and came in through the front door with tambourines and the like in a truly festive and celebratory style. It felt super special to be in that place at that moment. It did because it was.

When Chris said "this is our last song" I looked at the time: a quarter past ten. Oh no, I was missing the Tarmints. But I wasn't. I was just in time. Lucky for me they are sticklers for getting their sound right before they play. When you work as hard as they do on their tone you can't blame them for taking the time make sure it sounds how they want it to. And lucky for all their listeners too. I see people come out to Tarmints shows that I don't usually see at the usual scene places and shows. Ten years of playing together and people still look forward to their shows. If you've seen them, you know, if you haven't you should.

Having seen them both before, I was pretty sure the Hot IQs and Born in the Flood were about to put on some great sets, but I knew the Hi-Dive would be packed if not at capacity and figured I'd let the rest of Denver see them that night. Although perhaps there was more I might've liked (Pee Pee is always interesting) I was dizzy tired and called it a night.

So good to hear so much good music.

So good to see so many people I love.

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