06 September 2009

The 2009 Denver UMS!

The UMS, I think, is the indie music fans version of the county fair to farming folk: it's a chance to say hey to a number of friends you haven't seen since last year, maybe see a new thing or two and best of all, catch a few well-loved familiars.

I should've written this in a more timely manner, a month ago or so. But I didn't feel like writing about it until right now. It's not that I didn't enjoy the UMS this year. I did. And it's not that it was too exhausting (though four days were truly too much for me--I took Friday off.)

I will probably never get used to that sampling buffet-style mode of music listening of a festival. There were, as usual, too many bands to even catch a sample of properly. And predictably, I missed a good share of those I would've liked to have seen. The four days were more than I could set aside the time and energy for, so I deliberately skipped Friday and having the underage entourage in tow, I skipped the evening hours of Saturday and Sunday as well. The kids were bummed that they had no all ages opportunity to see the #1 voted band of Ian Cooke. He's pretty all-ages friendly too. Alas, there was still much to see and hear that made it well worth the price of a wristband.

And the UMS does seem to be growing, not shrinking. I heard tell that there were folks who made the trip from outside the rectangle of Colorado to play for the South Broadway crowd. I'm not sure if I caught any of their acts, but I think I must have seen at least one of them on the outdoor stage, which turned out to be a good place to hang out with my all-ages entourage. The skate shop also had a nice little setup with the little bouncy outdoor stage. Fancy Tiger and Rock the Cradle were good places to stop in and catch some acoustic singer-songwriter fare. The church on Lincoln also was a beautiful and unique place to catch some exceptional sounds.

For me, the highlights were: Thursday night at the 3 Kings Tavern with Snake Rattle Rattle Snake and Bad Luck City; Saturday afternoon at Fancy Tiger with Joe Sampson and the church on Lincoln with Kal Cahoone. For my teen-age son, Everything Absent or Distorted on the main stage on Sunday seemed to be the highlight. Chalk drawing on the parking lot also seemed to amuse the very youngest of rockers. I was glad that I bought Walgreens out of the last of their summer sidewalk chalk, because not a speck was wasted. Next year I'm bringing a bucket of chalk.

01 September 2009

The Pretenders and Cat Power at the Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

Thanks to the friendly folks at Gigbot, I had a couple tickets to take my 12 year old daughter to go see The Pretenders and Cat Power. Juliette Lewis, I must add, was also on the ticket, but we didn't make it there in time to see what her performance was about. Mapquest sent us on a scenic route south of Tiny Town to a road of the same name, but not the right one. It took us a bit of time to figure out what had happened, turn around, call civilization for proper directions and get to the Kipling and C-470 location. We weren't the only ones with crossed signals. Apparently a lot of people's tickets said "gates at 4, show at 5" when it was actually an hour earlier on both counts. Oops.

Well, with the heat of the day, I truly wasn't heart-broken for not having another hour under the sun. Nope.

I hadn't seen the Pretenders since 1986. They were playing with Iggy Pop in Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. It was a good show, from what I recall. But I was pretty stoked to see the Pretenders again. I expected there'd likely be a bunch of aging rockers I'd feel fairly at home with. My daughter was especially looking forward to Cat Power.

Chan Marshall did indeed look to be suffering a bit from the bright Colorado sun. I had heard stories of stage drama from Cat Power, but no such nonsense went on at this show. She sang a lot of low-key newer stuff with a solid backing band keeping it all together behind her. My daughter and I only have the first two Cat Power records, so the newer stuff was mostly unfamiliar. She does have a distinct voice and it delivers just as pretty live as recorded.

The Pretenders didn't let the heat bring them down. Well, the sun was set a little lower by the time they took the stage, but it was still plenty warm and sunny. Chrissy Hynde is an all around solid performer. Her voice and musicianship are as fabulous as always. But not only did the band deliver song after song of crowd pleasing favorite Pretender tunes, Hynde was really funny and engaging, commenting on a little guy's rocking out dance in the crowd and thanking the venue for not having to play with the wafting smell of barbeque in her face. Clearly a passionate vegetarian.
Pretenders played with their original drummer and rolled heavily with songs from Pretenders I and II mixing in newer songs here and there which held their own against the old familiars.

Though outdoor blanket-on-the-grass venues are not my favorite choice, it was a good place to take a kid to a show. Though, honestly, without the comps, it would've been out of my price range for a family outing. But my daughter was happy and thought it was really cool that she can now for always claim as her first national act concert two bands she likes: Cat Power and the Pretenders.

And I had fun too. But next time I'm bringing more water.