Copy of The Rocket Summer & 888 Bring Crowdsurfing Alt Pop Tour To Denver

By: Matti Earley

Local icons 888 returned for a stop in their hometown on Friday at Denver’s Marquis Theatre. The alt-pop three-piece first started gaining momentum in 2015 by winning 93.3 KTCL’s Hometown for the Holidays contest, and ever since then, they’ve been busy on a national scale. Friday’s show marked the start of their second tour of the year, following one with Missio in the spring.

888.

888.

“Gold" was an example of the kind of juxtaposition 888 have mastered in sound. It is the ideal pop radio hit, but not formulaic in the way that some top 40 songs can be. Instead, it feels like a much needed moment of honesty about the uncertainty that comes with trying to find a place in the world. Such underlying fears were explored even further and with a more melancholy overtone in “Creepers,” which came out less than a month ago and was great live. Of course, the trio also played their hit "Critical Mistakes," the song that arguably gave them their start on a national level.

The Rocket Summer began his impressive set soon after 888 ended, and played over 20 songs to fans. Ten years after the release of his record Do You Feel, Bryce Avary is still going strong. His choice of what to play Friday was undoubtedly a culmination drawing from his entire discography, and even included songs that he had never been done live before.

The Rocket Summer.

The Rocket Summer.

As evidenced by putting “So Much Love” near the beginning of his performance, Avary is uncontainably joyous about being a musician. This really showed in his interactions with the audience, who were as much a part of the show as him. After playing on a platform in the middle of the crowd, Avary made his way back upfront via crowdsurfing. In between songs, there were moments on the setlist specifically designated for him to talk with the audience. And rather than a preset encore, he asked the crowd what we wanted to hear before finishing with a few fan favorites. One of those, called “Brat Pack,” came from 2005’s Hello, Good Friend and was a seriously popular throwback that was crazy to hear live.

The Rocket Summer with 888’s tour wraps up in less than two weeks on August 29th at Arizona’s Crescent Ballroom. Make sure to catch a show while you can, and in the meantime, check out both acts recent releases on Spotify.

-Matti

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: Dandu's 'Caught Between' Ventures Beyond Fusion & Into Livetronica, Hip-Hop, & Even Space

By: Will Baumgartner

It would be too easy- and wholly misleading- to simply call the Denver trio known as Dandu a “fusion” group. Just a glance at the influences listed on their Facebook page could tell you that: Flying Lotus, Aphex Twin, Thundercat, Kneebody, The Bad Plus, and Bon Iver? What do you call a band who are inspired by such a diverse list of artists?! The phrase Dandu uses is “Wonky Groove Music,” and as words go when used in an attempt to describe the basically indescribable, I guess that’s as good a choice as any you’re likely to get. But when it comes to music like this, it’s best to put words aside and simply dig into the music itself.

Dandu. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

Dandu. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

So let’s go to their recently released EP Caught Between, and settle in for a trip that, for its relative scarcity of actual words (only two of the six tracks have vocals, and those are more imagistic than didactic), still manages to be wildly evocative. Among the many scenes and visions I get listening to this recording from beginning to end, the prevailing feel is of a spacewalk which varies between a stroll and a sort of power-walk. But while this journey is clearly purposeful and at times just a bit speedy, it never feels hurried.

Listen to Caught Between

The trip begins with “Stu Fish” (featuring Calm Alone, aka Grant Stringham, who also produced and mixed the entire EP), a bit of moody and almost apocalyptic-sounding psychedelia. This track, to which Stringham contributed samples, synth, and some drum programming, sets the mood for the whole journey: clearly, we’re in an otherworldly place, and while there’s a fair degree of darkness and menace around us, there are also lights everywhere- and we have a destination.

Ben Weirich. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

Ben Weirich. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

The second track, “Don’t Fret” (featuring Cosmic Slim, aka Wesley Watkins of The Other Black) continues this theme, and is very aptly titled: while the dark hip-hop groove and Watkins’ rapping conjure images of palpable levels of stress, fear and confusion, the overall effect is actually rather lighthearted and humorous, reminding one a bit of Childish Gambino meets TV On The Radio. (The trumpet playing of Carrie McCune adds more color as well.) Yeah, the song seems to be saying, it’s a bit frenetic and somewhat scary out here, but keep walking; we’ve got somewhere to go.

Sean Dandurand. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

Sean Dandurand. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

Next up is “Hips,” which begins with spacy, soundtrack-like music (I kept thinking it would fit well at the beginning of a sequel to the sci-fi cult classic “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai”). It then moves into the most “fusion”-like territory on the EP, with echoes of Herbie Hancock in his “Thrust” phase. There is also a strong “livetronica” feel here, which is actually present throughout this entire collection of songs, but especially on this one.

Dylan Johnson. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

Dylan Johnson. Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

The fourth track, “Elfie,” is the darkest-feeling one on the record: despite its rather whimsical-sounding title, the feel is almost dirge-like, and the voice samples have a sad and frightened feel. But keep going, there’s power and beauty ahead, and a truly well-told story must acknowledge the darkness on its way to the shimmering lights in the distance.

Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

Photo Credit: Derek Miles Photography

I didn’t ask Dandu’s apparent leader/mastermind Sean Dandurand what any of these titles mean (though I’m guessing there are obscure stories and inside jokes behind each of them), so I don’t have any clear idea why the fifth song is called “Moot the Destroyer.” For me, though, this track has the most purposeful feel of any of them: the song strides forward with a clear sense of destination. Maybe it’s whoever this Moot character is pushing on to more destruction, or possibly the story’s protagonist going to stand up to the Destroyer, but maybe all we need to know for sure is that something’s happening, and it’s a powerful moment.

Everyone who listens to Caught Between will get something different out of it, and indeed that’s a big part of its value: this music doesn’t try to direct the listener to feel or think any one specific thing, but rather provides a vast array of possibilities and encourages free association and imagination. For this listener, the biggest payoff comes in the closing track, “All It Could Be.” There’s a great feeling of hope and potential fulfillment in this dreamy, pastoral, and beautiful song, along with a wistful sense of wonder. And Sean Dandurand’s vocals have me hoping I will hear more of his singing and lyrics in future recordings.

In a band whose power comes mostly from the strength of its players, Dandu is exemplary: Sean Dandurand is simply one of the best bassists around, and his diverse talents on his instrument can also be heard in the aforementioned Other Black, where he ably holds down the bottom with style and aplomb. Keyboardist Ben Weirich has been one of my favorite local players since I first heard him about six years ago with the now-defunct but great group People’s Abstract (in which Dandurand also played, and was where the two first met). Weirich uses the keyboards in ways I’ve never heard anyone else do, filling the space between the drums and bass with rich textures. And drummer Dylan Johnson has also more than proven himself as a member of Other Black, though to my ears, it’s in Dandu where he truly gets to show everything he’s capable of, with his inventive and many-shaded uses of the drum kit.

Watch Dandu's video for "Heartbeats Break":

It’s been a busy and triumphant summer for Dandu: I was lucky enough to catch them twice, first with local psychedelic groove-monsters Mlima at CU Boulder’s Fiske Planetarium, and then as openers for jazz supergroup Hudson (John Scofield, John Medeski, Jack DeJohnette and Larry Grenadier) at Chautauqua Auditorium. Since then they’ve toured the West Coast and followed that with a string of performances at the recent UMS fest in Denver. But just as summer isn’t over, neither is their conquest of the season: before heading out for another tour, this time in the Midwest, lucky local music lovers get one more chance to catch them in Denver, when they support the great Jacob Collier at the Bluebird Theater next Tuesday, August 22nd. With Mile High Soul Club also on the bill, we’d all be wise to queue up for tickets now. It’s bound to be a spectacular night!

Keep up with Dandu on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and their website.

-Will

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.  

Review: Escapism's 'Side A' Is Electro Ambient & Meditatively Engaging Music

By: Allan Tellis

Colorado’s Escapism play with textures of sound in diverse and surreal ways. On the project’s latest record, Side A, Escapism work with distorted sounds and lighter melodic harmonies with an added element of vocalization to make their tunes interesting and exciting. Escapism is a project fronted by Colorado’s Evan Montoya and signed to Abandon Love in Seattle, Washington.

Although the album is cohesive and most registers under a singular sound, there is enough diversity between the tracks to engage listeners for the long, twenty-song record. The majority of the album is down-tempo, meditatively engaging music that is soothing and dreamlike. Moments like the ending of the record “Sleven,” however, disrupt the dream sequence, with upbeat bass lines inspiring dancing, and creating balance within the album. There are also tunes that feature heavy use of acoustic work, like “I Remember Every Swim” and “Danielle Tells,” which give the listener a break from the more electronic sounds pervasive throughout the rest of the record.

Evan Montoya.

Evan Montoya.

If you are into ambient music and have an ear for experimental arrangement and non-traditional song formatting, Escapism may be exactly what you’re looking for. Escapism are currently on tour, and are even heading overseas to South Korea for some performances. Said Montoya about Escapism’s travel plans, “[We’re] working on playing a few more shows in Denver this year and opening up for a few more acts before we head to Germany, and then South Korea for a few dive bar type shows! Should be fun.”

Escapism also have a music video set to release at the end of August, so make sure to check back for that by keeping up with them here.

-Allan

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Female-Fronted Acts Bring Strong Performances To Denver's Ogden Theatre

By: Matti Earley

Last week, Denver’s Ogden Theatre saw two strong, female-led groups take the stage: Sylvan Esso and Flock of Dimes.

Flock of Dimes.

Flock of Dimes.

Before opener Jenn Wasner started the solo venture Flock of Dimes, she was one half of Wye Oak. Once solo, Wasner released If You See Me, Say Yes via Partisan Records. That title is hopeful, as if the listener is on the edge of a revelatory experience, and last week, it was clear that Wasner’s music definitely sounds wrapped up in that.

Wasner began with four tracks, including the standout “Everything is Happening Today.” In her words, it captures the moment, “where time melts and previously buried memories are unlocked- where every autumn day that I’ve ever experienced is suddenly present and available at my fingertips”. Later, she added in some of her older music. “Prison Bride” came out, venturing all the way back to her 2011 catalogue, and the tune brought a grittier edge to what had been a more idyllic show. She ended her set with a cover, “No More ‘I Love You’s’” by Annie Lennox. Younger  audience members might not have known who Lennox is, but after Wasner’s performance, she likely has several new fans.

Amelia Meath.

Amelia Meath.

Next up were Sylvan Esso, and from the moment Amelia Meath appeared onstage, her energy was contagious. With the help of her platform shoes, she bounced around effortlessly to bandmate Nick Sanborn’s electronic production. “Sound” was an appropriate start to their set, with the opening line, “I was gonna write a song for you”.

Just three years ago, Sylvan Esso were an act trying to make it; now the band had just come from Lollapalooza to multiple, sold-out Colorado shows. Meath and Sanborn appeared keenly aware of their transformation into such a popular act, and thanked the audience constantly. And to add to their charm, on top of their humility, the duo were also kind of hilarious. Between performances, they related anecdotes about inebriated texting and Sanborn’s aunt, who was in attendance, also got a funny mention.

The bubbly enthusiasm of the duo transferred into all songs, even some of the slowest ones. “Die Young” is normally one of those more somber tracks recorded, but in front of a crowd it became an anthem. Their encore brought them back to their roots with the final number, “Play It Right,” which was the first collaboration between Sanborn and Meath, and is part of how they met.

Overall, it was a strong bill at Denver’s Ogden last Thursday with two powerful ladies at the front of it all. Check out more photos from the night here.

-Matti

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Premiere: Electro Pop Rock Duo ANGLS Release Debut Single "Terminal Velocity"

By: Trevor Ryan

Everyone loves a catchy tune. Something that you can wake up to. To drive to. There's just something really comfortable about it. And among the notable new anthem vibes comes “Terminal Velocity” from electro pop rock duo ANGLS.

Listen to ANGLS new single:

Made up of producer Ellipsis, and musician Norman Hittle (Hydrogen Skyline), you'll hear influences of Maroon 5, AWOLnation, and The Killers on this track. It's mostly the poppy vocals, and heavy hitting riffs that make this track really glow. But there is definitely credit to be given for the witticism in its lyrics as well.

ANGLS.

ANGLS.

Beginning with some deep guitar riffs, and backed by some well-placed synth work, ANGLS’ “Terminal Velocity” has chanted, almost rap-esque verses following its intro. The heavy distortion that follows pairs nicely with the sort of water-logged vocal effects you hear next. And with the chorus, you get a rangy hook that carries you onward.

Hittle and Ellipsis.

Hittle and Ellipsis.

ANGLS make a phenomenal duo, and though new to the Colorado scene as a project, they come experienced from their time in other bands with a catchy sound. Put “Terminal Velocity” on the last of your summer playlists, and keep up with ANGLS on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as their official site right here.

-Trevor

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Premiere: Compass & Cavern's "Good Enough" Showcases Sound Of Their New Alt-Pop Record

By: Norman Hittle

It’s been two years of cultivation with odd dreams of rock’n’roll legends, bouts with love, and feeling the press of time as temporal beings; and finally the Denver based indie-rock/power-pop duo Compass & Cavern are back with their full-length album Before it Begins, and premiering their third music video from the record for the track “Good Enough.”

Compass & Cavern is frontman/guitarist Will Timbers, and synth-master Chris Frucci. Their name is derived from two concepts that resonated with Will and Chris throughout the project’s formation. “Compass” refers to the phrase, “don’t confuse the map with the territory.” Will first came across this idea in college philosophy lectures and thought it was a particularly beautiful way of describing how we mistakenly claim to “know” things with which we have a surface-level connection. For example, we could learn everything there is to know about the Grand Canyon, but our understanding of its grandeur is incomplete until we actually experience it for ourselves. The “map” pales in comparison to the “territory” it is representing.

“Cavern” is an allusion to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, a parable that uses sweet imagery to help us understand how we develop ideas about what is “real.” Remember the black and blue vs. white and gold dress picture that took the internet by storm in early 2015? That was a powerful and tangible example for how we can experience reality differently because of our varying perceptions of the surrounding world. Knowing this, C&C sees music as the best medium to share perspectives with others.

As far as sonic similarities, I would say C&C’s sound is influenced by some of the more formidable alt-pop acts such as 311, Twenty One Pilots, and Weezer.

Regarding the video, Compass & Cavern told BolderBeat:

“The song attempts to portray a blend of confidence and self-doubt in the context of a relationship (or at least a desired relationship!). It's the feeling of superiority and the recognition of personal shortcomings when thinking about what, or who, is best for a person you admire. It's basically a pride pendulum swing. The video plays on that theme, but leaves even more ambiguity as to who the ‘good guys’ are in the story. With every song we write, my biggest hope is that listeners will understand and identify with the emotion and message, at least to some degree.”

Stream and listen to Compass & Cavern’s Before it Begins on Bandcamp, add them to your Spotify playlists, and take a gander at the creative storylines in their other videos on YouTube!

-Norman

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Folk Fights Back: Rachel Baiman Brings New Protest Songs Through Colorado

By: Riley Ann

Folk music is no stranger to politics, and Rachel Baiman isn’t afraid to make waves. Her new album Shame is getting accolades from NPR’s All Songs Considered, Paste Magazine, and The Bluegrass Situation, among others, and for good reason. The album is fierce, playful, even snarky, and it’s the perfect patchwork of the Americana tradition, spanning grooves reminiscent of Sam Bush (like the title track, “Shame,” and “Never Tire Of The Road”), to classic country fiddle (like “In The Space Of A Day”), to the Gillian Welch-esque melody of “Take A Stand,” all blended with her Old-time roots and modern voice. The album is available to stream and purchase in digital, CD, and vinyl formats on her Bandcamp.

She’s sharing her new batch of tunes on tour in Colorado this week. Aside from performing live on KGNU’s Kabaret show on Tuesday, August 8th, Rachel is playing the Starhouse concert series in Boulder along with local favorites Natalie Tate and Gabrielle Louise this Wednesday from 7:30PM-10PM (more information here). She’s also playing a show in Denver at Globe Hall on Thursday, August 10th with The Wind and the Wave, an indie-folk/alt-country band from Austin, Texas.

Similar to Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, and so many other folk musicians that have walked this path, Rachel’s songs are steeped in the social commentary of the times. She said, “They originated from broader political issues, but with what’s happening in the world today, they get more and more specific in their meaning every day.”

Rachel Baiman.

Rachel Baiman.

Her politics don’t stop with her own music. She is one of the co-founders of Folk Fights Back, a non-profit organization that curates concerts around the world to raise money for local organizations working for social and political changes. Previous concerts have raised funds for environmental justice, immigrant and refugee rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, and more. Rachel said, “It was really a way to channel our energy into things that are important to us. Sometimes it’s hard to feel like you’re making a difference, but we’ve raised thousands of dollars for local non-profits doing really important work, and it brings people together in a positive way. There’s so much power in our solidarity.” Learn more about setting up your own Folk Fights Back concert by visiting their website.

While this is Rachel’s first full-blown tour in Colorado, it certainly won’t be her last. However, it might be your last opportunity to see her in such an intimate space as the Starhouse. You can find more about that show and her other tour dates on her Facebook page and her website.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos provided to BolderBeat by the artist. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: The Yawpers' 'Boy In A Well' Is An Intensely Dynamic Psychobilly Concept Record

By: Norman Hittle

The Yawpers’ third album, Boy In A Well, is a conceptual album set in World War I France where a mother abandons her unwanted newborn child. Yet, despite the tragic plot line, the music carries an intrigue that’s difficult to ignore.

The Yawpers. Photo Credit: Demi Demitro 

The Yawpers. Photo Credit: Demi Demitro 

Recorded with Alex Hall in Chicago at Reliable Recordings with production assistance and instrumental contributions from Tommy Stinson (The Replacements, Bash & Pop), Boy in a Well extends The Yawpers’ sound with intense, dynamic, animated, and at times, deeply personal tunes.

Boy In A Well, which is a followup to the band’s Bloodshot Records debut American Man (2015), was imagined by lead singer Nate Cook after a "reckless combination of alcohol, half a bottle of Dramamine, and an early morning flight." The result is a 12-song onslaught mingling psychological fascinations (German realpolitik, Freud, Oedipus,) and the lasting social and cultural fallout of WWI interspersed with Cook's own emotions surrounding his recent split from his estranged wife. 

Listen to The Yawpers’ first single “Mon Nom” from their new record:

The album’s psychobilly/rock-swing sonic approach seems to have influences ranging from Reverend Horton Heat, to Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, and the Cramps. And I couldn’t help but hear some very Lemmy Kilmister-inspired vocals nodding to the late and great Motorhead.

“Armistice Day” lethargically takes form with haunting piano, harmonics and chanting, leading way to “A Decision is Made,” the rockabilly-blues fusion laced with sliding guitars and guttural howls. The sobering “A Visitor is Welcomed” then takes place with an almost gentle caress of acoustic guitars in the wake of the former tracks, and leads us to an equally somber “Room With a View.” All of that ceases thirteen seconds into “Mon Dieu” with a gradual galloping climax into seeming chaos that crescendos into track six: “The Awe and the Anguish.” Here we find a lo-fi recording of twangy guitars and an almost backwater country vibe until the final half minute of anthemic post-rock.

The album artwork for Boy In A Well.

The album artwork for Boy In A Well.

“Mon Nom” builds from sporadic muted notes into a decisive cadence that marches into “Face to Face to Face,” where a blues/swing builds into straight southern rock. “No Going Back” comes to light featuring a pensive bass line that swells into a solid, yet muted distorted finality. “God’s Mercy” brings us back to a peaceful and calming moment from the maelstrom just before plunging into the surf-rock meets grunge in “Linen for the Orphan.” “Reunion” wraps up the odyssey that is Boy In A Well with a seemingly straightforward (at least for The Yawpers) rock/folk-blues vibe that would fit well in a 1970s Americana collection, drawing out on a final piano note of the angst-ridden, yet sorrowful tale of searching and longing.

The Yawpers will be in Denver at The Oriental Theater Saturday, September 16th for their record release show, with Jesse Dayton, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones, and The Beeves. Get tickets here and keep up with The Yawpers on Facebook.

-Norman

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Premiere: This Broken Beat's "Out In The Deep End" Showcases Emotional, Musing Side Of Their Upcoming Record

This Broken Beat.

This Broken Beat.

Last May, we premiered indie pop duo This Broken Beat’s music video for their track “Sleep.” It was an eerie piece with a video filmed in Boulder’s misty forests to match its moody tones. Today, we’re excited to bring you the Denver band’s latest single release. Their tune “Out In The Deep End” drops on all music platforms today and you can preview it below:

“Out In The Deep End” is an emotional pop track that features Julio Perez’s smooth and soft-spoken vocals with Annie Richardson’s beats. Perez also authored guitar, keys, and production on the track, which was recorded at Streetlight Audio.

Fresh off of their UMS performance, the band told us:

"‘Out In The Deep End’" is a very exciting song for us because it's one of the last singles we are releasing before the full-album comes out later this fall. It's one of the very few on the album that carries a low-key, contemplative tone to it. The genre & feel to the song are something we don't often express in our music, but it helps bring the full spectrum of emotion to the album. We can't wait for you to hear it.”

Give “Out In The Deep End” a listen for yourself, and keep up with This Broken Beat here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

The 2017 Underground Music Showcase Brought Together Artists & Fans For Four Days Of Awesome

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Denver’s annual four day music festival The Underground Music Showcase rocked South Broadway last weekend. We crawled the strip, ate nothing but pizza, and almost refused to sleep in the name of good music. Here are some of our favorite things about this year’s festival:

The Bands

Of course we went to as many shows as possible and of course most of them really rocked our socks off. But here we’re going to be shameless and first tell you about the killer acts who played our packed official day party.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

Xavier Provencher & Sean Culliton of Retrofette.

BolderBeat & KGNU combined forces this year to bring you Brunch with a Beat at The UMS, which was five hours of sugar and synth by some of Colorado’s most promising electro acts.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Greg Laut of Whiskey Autumn.

Mirror Fears kicked things off with her industrial goth pop, Church Fire kept things movin’ with their Crystal Castles-esque electronic primal therapy, and DéCollage wrapped the front of The Irish Rover in Mylar and swept the stage with their avant-garde pop. Retrofette’s synth stylings followed, and created a massive dance party full of hip-shaking & flash tattoos. Whiskey Autumn’s indie synth pop closed the show; their unreleased track "Birds That Flew" had many whistling along to its chorus. And in between sets, DJ Erin Stereo crushed sweet beats. We gave away tickets to upcoming Future Islands and Thundercat shows, and we passed out donut lollipops, which many showgoers expressed they hoped were laced with weed (they were not kidz).

As for the rest of our UMS:

Anthony Ruptak.

Anthony Ruptak.

Our first official set at UMS 2017 was at Hi-Dive on Thursday with Anthony Ruptak, who started us off with amazing tunes from his new record Don’t Let It Kill You, and even streamed a Facebook live anti-Trump vid from the stage. Punk rock.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ishka Phoenix of Ghost Tapes.

Ghost Tapes were a funky, neo-soul standout at Skylark; frontwoman Ishka Phoenix had the crowd melting as she delivered tasty R&B sounds from her ice cream microphone.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Ben Pisano of Corsicana.

Corsicana gave us tasty indie tunes while we nommed hard on an Illegal Pete’s burrito, which was the only non-pizza item we allowed ourselves for sustenance. The four-piece are playing a couple of big Colorado shows with Hippo Campus this month, so make sure to roll to those.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

Chris Scott & Chris Kimmel of OptycNerd.

OptycNerd describe themselves as “eclectro indie pop hop sexy time,” and well, we wish we’d written that ourselves. Their sexy time at Hi-Dive was enjoyed.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus.

Zola Jesus brought her dark, operatic vocals to the main stage; Red Fang spouted the classic rock stoner jams they’re known for to a headbanging crowd.

What is cooler than wearing glow-in-the-dark face paint? Glow-in-the-dark guitar strings- DUH. Motion Trap had ‘em at their Rover set on Saturday, and they played their electro sonic disco tunes to a packed house that boogied with them from start to finish.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

Mic Carroll of All Chiefs.

All Chiefs kept us out of the rain at Hi-Dive with their indie rock vibes, Evan Holm & The Restless Ones kicked up some folky soul at Gary Lee’s Motorcycle Club, and GALLERIES played a heartfelt tribute show celebrating the life of late Denver music prodigy Kyle McQueen.

The Outfit.

The Outfit.

Rock’n’roll’s The Outfit played their final set ever at 3 Kings Tavern on Friday to a mosh-ready, beer-heavy crowd who were clearly sad to see them go.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

Rebecca Williams of The Savage Blush.

The Savage Blush had a killer psych rock-dripping set at the main stage, Slowcaves brought us chill wave surf rock sounds, and Dragondeer managed to blues rock us almost straight through a downpour, though they had to cut their set a bit short when the rain just about flash-flooded the festival parking lot in true Colorado fashion.

Esmé Patterson.

Esmé Patterson.

Brent Cowles revived a soaking crowd with “Cold Times” when the sun came back out, Esmé Patterson slayed her evening dream rock set with unreleased music and a touching tribute with Kitty Crimes to the late Tyler Despres, and Benjamin Booker crowd surfed his way right into Colorado’s heart, closing out the main stage of the festival Sunday evening.

The Booze

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Dewar's Whiskey Emporium.

Breckenridge Brewing was a main sponsor for The UMS this year and we sipped many an Avalanche by the main stage throughout the fest. Dewar’s had what felt like a tiny house made for drinking with free smells and scotch eggs. It was delicious and why you would have wasted your tongue on any other mixed drink in the hot sun and the pouring rain is beyond us.

The Bunny

Yeah. This one.

Yeah. This one.

Mixed Up Gifts’ pop up shop on South Broadway had some sweet merch for sale from Sacred Bones Records and a creepy night light if you’re in the market to wake up afraid of the dark only to find Jason lurking in your bathroom. But best of all was their bunny, who tried to coerce festival-goers into the shop while eerily reading children’s books through the window.

The Budz

No, not that kind you typical Denverite. Overall, we had a rad time at The UMS this year, and we highly encourage you to check out all the bands we mentioned, all the acts we live-interviewed with Zach Dahmen, and any of the performers on the local lineup in general. Because if there’s one thing we came away with after four days of music-hopping insanity, it was with community- from the performers themselves, to the UMS staff and volunteers, to the eager ticket holders bouncing from show to show hoping to find their next favorite band- Denver came out to support its own. Whether we were playing beach volleyball in the artist tent during a downpour or running from the main stage with our best budz to get back to Broadway for a set (those smarter ones took the Meow Wolf bus), this weekend really showcased you- the local music supporter. And for that, we and apparently Governor Hickenlooper, thank you.

Check out our full photo gallery from The UMS here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.
 

Chance The Rapper's Intern Opens Up About Working For His Favorite Rapper & How One Night at Red Rocks Changed Everything

Hospedales & Chance. 

Hospedales & Chance. 

You may recall a few months back when Chance The Rapper put out a request for an intern across his social media. Canada’s Nagele Hospedales got the gig after turning his resume into a website that went viral. Recently, Hospedales opened up about what life was like touring the globe with Chicago’s hometown hero. From arranging story time for the rapper with Dave Chappelle to coordinating Chance’s hoops sessions with Migos, Hospedales eventually writes,

“I can talk all I want about my run-ins with various celebrities including the ones I lived with for 2 months, or how a taste of the VIP lifestyle changed me, but the first moment that really left shivers down my spine was a slightly more natural one:
Night 2 at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO.
The band intros happen nearly halfway thru the show, and after the ovation for ‘Mr. Nico Segal’, ”Sunday Candy” begins. Suddenly, it was if the heavens literally opened up for a second; right as the vocalists harmonized the lines “Come on in this house, cause it’s gonna rain, Rain down Zion, it’s gonna rain”, the most peaceful light mist fell from the sky until the end of the song and as suddenly as they started, ceased. Something about that moment made me realize that I, or rather we, were doing something right, enough so to please our God & Mother Nature & the sky themselves.”

A life defining moment had at Red Rocks? We get you Hospedales.

Read Hospey's full adventures as Chance’s intern here.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. Cover photo per Julia Ordog. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Hallie Spoor Set To Release Debut Record At Denver's Syntax This Friday (08/04)

By: Trevor Ryan

Hallie Spoor, the folky singer/songwriter born and bred in Colorado and currently based in Denver, will be headlining Syntax Physic Opera this Friday, August 4th for her debut record release show. And I for one, could not be more stoked. Why is that you ask? Three words: Those. Pipes. Though.

Hallie Spoor. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss Photography

Hallie Spoor. Photo Credit: Sierra Voss Photography

Upon listening for the first time, you can’t help but be immediately drawn to the range of Spoor’s voice. Often described as “an old soul” whose sound may remind you of powerful folk ladies who’ve come before her, like Joni Mitchell or Sheryl Crow, Hallie Spoor might just be the Adele of Americana. You’ll know exactly what I mean with tracks like “Till I See You Again.”

Beyond her impressive vocal range, Spoor’s tunes just make you feel good. She rocks the smooth, upbeat, Americana, easy-listening sound that so often define one element of popular Colorado music. This is most evident in her tune, “More To The Sky Than Blue,” which I recommend listening to. The simple rhythm, along with that acoustic/electric lead duo in this track, all accompanied by her amazing voice bleed awesome vibes that are definitely worth seeing live.

Watch Hallie perform the title track tune from her upcoming record:

Spoor will release Side 1 of her debut album The Brave Ones at her Syntax show this Friday. Sam Columna (Dear Me,) and Shelly Rollison will open the evening; you can grab tickets here. Keep up Hallie on her Bandcamp.

-Trevor

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Review: Pat Ice Injects Hip-Hop Tunes With "Krispy Vibes"

By: Allan Tellis

Hip-hop, like any other art form, requires innovation. Unfortunately, hip-hop specifically can have the propensity to be stagnated and stuck on the dominant sound of the culture at the moment. Due to the speed at which changes in hip-hop move, it is even more obvious when artists are riding the wave or coattails of the current trends in the genre. As one half of the duo Pat Ice, Boulder artist and New Orleans native J-Ice is focused on shaking that stagnation and pushing the culture forward. His partner in crime, Play Pat, is a production-focused artist who infuses his trip-hop, blurry vibes into the duo’s interesting style. Their sound  is innovative, yet draws back on many of the technical skills cemented by the founders of the genre.

J-Ice.

J-Ice.

Although the group’s music has the ability to get a party lit, it doesn’t compromise the lyrical skill set that so many emcees hold in high regard. It also doesn’t particularly ride the sound pattern of current club music with heavy trap snare lines or West Coast funk-laden influences. Pat Ice has managed to create their own sound, which is a feat in itself in today’s hip-hop arena. Their smooth sonics, or as J-Ice phrases it, “krispy vibes,” can be found most notably in their tracks “Don’t Get Offended” and “Online.” These melodically upbeat, yet slow tempo tunes make the perfect backdrop for a relaxing drive through the city or a kickback in the living room with your closest amigos.

Pat Ice also has a strong lyrical pedigree, flexing his wordplay on tracks like “Ripple Effect,” so don’t let the group’s laidback vibes give any of you whack rappers any ideas. Overall this Boulder hip-hop duo is definitely worth checking out.

-Allan

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Recapping RockyGrass: The Changing Face of Bluegrass

By: Riley Ann

Festivarians flocked to the 45th annual RockyGrass Festival this past weekend at Planet Bluegrass, and it celebrated the evolution of bluegrass in all of its facets. In the era of the folk renaissance in America, the first RockyGrass was held in 1973 and featured first-generation bluegrassers like Bill Monroe (the “father of bluegrass”) and Lester Flatt in addition to acts like Country Gazette that were part of the budding newgrass movement. A lot has changed since 1973, when 3-day tickets were only $12 and Bill Monroe himself was involved in starting the first RockyGrass (more about the history here). And yet, in the spirit of blending first-generation traditional bluegrass alongside newgrass of the time, this year’s RockyGrass held true to their own tradition.

Sam Bush.

Sam Bush.

What is notable at this year’s festival was the striking number of young faces on stage. In fact, eldest of all the instrument contest winners is only 21 years old. And yet Sam Bush was only 21 when he took the stage with The Bluegrass Alliance for the very first RockyGrass in 1973, which is evidence of young blood continually being drawn into the scene and sustaining the tradition through the decades.

Odessa Settles.

Odessa Settles.

What is notably different about more recent Rockygrasses, especially this year’s, is the growing representation of women on stage. Friday’s lineup included Colorado native Bevin Foley of Trout Steak Revival, Laurie Lewis with her band including renowned fiddler Tatiana Hargreaves along with special guest and Colorado native Courtney Hartman of Della Mae. Saturday featured powerhouse band leaders Melody Walker (winner the 2016 International Bluegrass Music Association’s Vocalist Momentum Award) with her band Front Country (nominated by IBMA as 2017’s Emerging Artist of the Year award) and followed by Becky Buller (nominated by IBMA at 2017’s Fiddler of the Year and by The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America as 2017’s Songwriter of the Year award) as well as Odessa Settles performing with Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer. Sunday featured clawhammer banjoist Allison de Groot alongside Bruce Molsky in the Molsky Mountain Drifters as well as the all-female band and 2016 nominee for the IBMA Emerging Artist award Sister Sadie. Aside from the main stage, Denver-based Ginny Mules left the crowd roaring in a standing ovation during the band contest at the Wildflower Pavilion, and they won third place in the finals.

Tatiana Hargreaves with Laurie Lewis.

Tatiana Hargreaves with Laurie Lewis.

Although female representation is far from being equal, the bluegrass scene has come a long way despite its sexist reputation, like Alison Kraus being angrily told, “Girls can’t play bluegrass,” as she disclosed in the documentary High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music, one among countless other similar anecdotes of female bluegrass musicians in the book Pretty Good for a Girl.

Del McCoury.

Del McCoury.

While so many new faces are entering the scene, some have become iconic staples, and the return of Del McCoury, Sam Bush, and Peter Rowan along with newgrass favorites like The Infamous Stringdusters rounded out the festival to mix in the old with the new, giving something in the realm of bluegrass for everyone to enjoy.

The Infamous Stringdusters.

The Infamous Stringdusters.

Although this year’s RockyGrass has passed, you can still get your festival on for Folks Fest, which is happening in just a couple weeks from August 18th-20th. This year’s lineup includes Gregory Alan Isakov, Lake Street Dive, The Revivalists, Rhiannon Giddens (of the Carolina Chocolate Drops), The Wailin’ Jennys, Josh Ritter, Elephant Revival, Dave Rawlings Machine, and more. You can still get single-day and three-day tickets here.

View our full photo gallery from RockyGrass 2017 here.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All photos per the author. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Get Discounted Velorama Colorado Tickets & Spend August 11th-13th with Wilco, The New Pornographers, & More!

This year, Colorado's Velorama Festival will commence August 11th-13th as a giant street party in Denver's RiNo District! The fest will include the best views of the Colorado Classic bicycle race during it's Denver leg, plus music from Wilco, The New Pornographers, Death Cab For Cutie, the Old 97's and more! This massive music fest will also have a marketplace that includes favorites like Denver Flea, plenty of beer gardens to get your day drink on, and a lifestyle and bike expo for all of you active Denverites. 

Check out the full music lineup below and get $15 off tickets with our special promo code- regularly $45, you can snatch them for just $30! All you have to do is roll to: bit.ly/VeloCode & enter CLASSIC17SP at checkout! Get yours today and we'll see you in a couple of weeks for Velorama Colorado!

Visit Velorama's website for more info!

Taught By Members of The Flaming Lips, The So Help Me's Are Existential Rock For Your Soul

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Taught by members of The Flaming Lips and best budz with Denver’s Tyto Alba, Oklahoma City’s The So Help Me’s are rolling through Denver this weekend for a performance at The Underground Music Showcase. Slated for a 2PM set Saturday, July 29th at the Hi-Dive, this neo western shoegaze five-piece plan to shower you with plenty of dream pop and existential rock tunes. We recently chatted with the crew to talk about their trek here and all things summer. Read on:

We noticed you came together in 2014 at the Flaming Lips’ Academy of Contemporary Music in OKC. Talk to us about that experience.

John, our guitarist and main songwriter, was studying music education and jazz at the University of Central Oklahoma, along with three of our other members. We wanted to step out and start writing our own music, and The So Help Me’s really developed in garages and living rooms between college orchestra and jazz ensemble rehearsals. In these spaces, we felt free to write weird music and explore sounds and compositions in a way we couldn't in our school ensembles.  

When John transferred to the Academy of Contemporary Music for music business, we were just starting to establish ourselves as a band, and the school welcomed us with open arms. It was really crazy to learn from members of the Lips. We look up to them a lot and it’s an amazing opportunity to get to learn from a band we grew up listening to and really love. It’s almost impossible for me to see our band without the school. It’s a really tight group of world-class musicians and artists there, and everyone’s pushing for each other. There’s a beautiful thing happening in OKC.

The So Help Me's.

The So Help Me's.

Since your inception, you’ve released an EP, 'Relativity' (2016). What are your plans for future recording/releases?

We are putting out a single in the next month, as well as finishing an EP. We’re also in pre-production on a full-length album slated for release at the end of the year.

Listen to The So Help Me's Relativity:

We noticed you’ve had a couple of festival spots this summer. Tell us about those!

This year’s spring festival season in Oklahoma was bananas. We normally play 3-5 festivals in the spring, and this year we were rained out of three in a row because the weather in Oklahoma sucks. At one of the festivals we did play, some dude wandered onstage menacingly and looked like he was going to stab our singer Sophia. This dude got escorted off the stage by security and we were not even halfway through our set.

Whoa. What should Denver know about the OKC music scene?

OKC had a big influx of money due to Thunder basketball and some people are saying the city is going through a sort of renaissance. This being said, it still seems pretty evident to bands that you can't sustain a career in OKC. We know a lot of bands who have relocated, or focus a lot of their time and efforts on touring out of state, and it’s hard to blame them. Even the Lips only play in OKC once every five years or so.

We know you’re friends with Denver’s Tyto Alba- how’d you meet?

I think Tyto Alba were touring through to SXSW and we ended up being booked to play with them twice in one week somehow. They have this huge wall of sound guitar tone that blew us away. We hit it off immediately and became close friends- since then we've played several shows with them in Denver and had them out to OKC.  Our personalities vibe well, and we all share a really intense passion for guitar pedals and making music.

Cool. We’re excited you’re playing Denver’s The UMS! What are you most looking forward to about the festival?

We’re most looking forward to the weather not being a hundred billion degrees like it is in July in OKC. We’re excited to see Tyto Alba, Male Blonding, and The Velveteers play specifically, and we all plan on seeing as much music as possible. Huge festivals like this are amazing because you can walk a few blocks and see different genres and different bands everywhere you look. It’s a beautiful thing to have that many people together who share a common love for playing and listening to music.

Anything else in store for The So Help Me’s in 2017?

We plan on touring regionally several times in the middle of recording our album, and we have shows and festivals booked through at least November, so we’re definitely charging ahead full force.

Make sure to check out The So Help Me’s at The UMS this Saturday- tickets here. Keep up with The So Help Me’s on their website.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Mary Chapin Carpenter & Emily Barker Bring Foot-Stompin' Good Times To Chautauqua Auditorium

By: Hannah Oreskovich

Two powerful ladies took over Chautauqua Auditorium this past Monday for a night of sweet acapella tunes, country foot-stompin’ jams, and a collective reminiscence on the passing of time.

Emily Barker.

Emily Barker.

Australia’s Emily Barker opened the evening. Barker, who entered the music realm after connecting with guitarist Rob Jackson in the UK in 2002, has been touring internationally on her latest solo record Sweet Kind of Blue (2017). The Americana singer/songwriter, who is fresh off of her 2017 Glastonbury performance, played a stripped-down solo set at Chautauqua, jumping between the piano onstage and her guitar and harmonica. While some artists may have a hard time keeping a crowd’s interest without a backing band, Barker sure isn’t one of them. Her voice is the true instrument of interest in her music, and she definitely proved that at this performance. There wasn’t a sound outside of her vocals throughout the entire auditorium when she sang her tune “Precious Memories” entirely acapella with a few finger snaps thrown in for good measure. With the crowd’s full attention, Barker really showcased the raw, jazzy vibrato sound of her vocals, shortly thereafter ending her 30-minute set with the swampy harmonica and delta vibes of her newer single “Sunrise.”

Country darling Mary Chapin Carpenter entered next, with a four-piece band backing her for a set of tunes spread across her 30-year catalogue. Her Chautauqua show was her second in Colorado for the week, and in support of her 2016 release The Things That We Are Made Of, which is her 14th record release. The crowd was especially taken with her newer, emotive track “Livingston,” which Carpenter shared was inspired by a road trip she took with friends to “say farewell to a friend.”  

Mary Chapin Carpenter.

Mary Chapin Carpenter.

The four-time Grammy winner played plenty of her classics as well. The crowd cheered for her “Passionate Kisses” cover, which harkens back to her 1992 record Come On Come On and was originally written by Lucinda Williams (who ironically plays Chautauqua next week).

“I think that one is a perfect example of songcraft, whether stripped down and acoustic or with a full band! It speaks to the most human desire to love and be loved, which we all deserve.” she remarked afterward, to a vibrant applause.

Carpenter made several reflections on her career throughout the night, saying at one point, “You know a lot of us will say we’re just happy to be anywhere, but I’m especially happy to be here.” And with “here” being a sold-out 1500-capacity auditorium nestled in Boulder’s Foothills, one thing’s clear: Carpenter has strongly accomplished what many artists only dream to do- she’s spent a 30-year music career establishing lifelong fans.

“This next one’s old,” she smiled toward the end of her set, “But aren’t they all? This one’s from the last century.” The crowd cheered.

Though her tunes may be dated in years, they’re established country classics; timeless, though the performer and her loyal fans have aged since her first release.

Carpenter’s next show is in Kansas City tonight with Sarah Jarosz, but Barker will rejoin Carpenter in Iowa this weekend for another leg of this tour. Keep up with Carpenter here and with Barker on her website.

-Hannah

Follow Hannah on Instagram and Twitter.

All photos per the author. All videos and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat. 

Review: When The BANDITS Give You 7" (But You Want All 12)

By: Riley Ann

The new 7” EP from the BANDITS showcases the band’s prowess bridging the heaviness of rock with the intricacies of metal guitar riffs, balancing relentless forward-driven rhythms with syncopated lifts. Yeah, it’s good. And it’s going to leave you wanting more.

BANDITS.

BANDITS.

The A-side features John Demitro on vocals for “Enough.” While the verses hammer down an almost static melody over a trance-like guitar & bass duet, the choruses open up vocally and instrumentally, and the bridge gives a taste of John’s iconic guitar soloing, reigned in from his wild solos in live settings. The stops after the choruses and the bridge let the song bottom out just long enough to give it shape. The arrangement of “Enough” balances perfectly, driving it forward and letting the song breathe.

Tear You Down” on the B-side features Lulu Demitro on vocals, and she drives the song on the back end of the beat with bass. Less ornate, more percussive, and more weight on each beat give this an ominous backdrop for the chorus to climb above the wreckage as Lulu’s voice sings, “I’ll tear you down, down until you’re nothing...” The transitions in and out of the half-time feel give the song more density, and the bridge turns into a haunting duet over sparse instrumentation, only to build back into the chorus. While her previous single “Kill Tonight” compels you to dance, “Tear You Down” will have you headbanging for days.

John Demitro offered his take on the new singles, saying, “I think these two songs are some of our strongest material to date. We’ve had these songs in our repertoire for awhile and I think they are a mile marker in the direction of where our sound was going. I think we have finally found the sound of BANDITS, and “Enough” and “Tear You Down” are a perfect preview to what is coming soon.”

The arrangements are tight, the studio production is solid, and their live shows leave even non-smokers reaching for a cigarette. The band plans to record a full-length album in August, so keep up with them on their website and social media. Your next chance to catch them locally is on this Sunday, July 30th for the UMS at the Skylark Lounge (tickets here) and then Monday, July 31st at Globe Hall in Denver with Slothrust and Gleemer (tickets here). In the meantime, you can get your hands on their music on their merch page, and snag digital copies on Bandcamp.

-Riley

Find out more about Riley on her blog.

All gallery photos per the author. All other photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Catch Funk Quintet Tula's Album Release Show at Globe Hall This Friday (07/28)

By: Jura Daubenspeck

As the end of July approaches and energies are high, you may be wondering, “Where oh where will I get my funk fix tonight?!” Fear not though, as Colorado’s funky quintet Tula has just what you need. The band will be set up at Globe Hall this Friday, July 28th, to celebrate their album release titled, Follow The Beast Inside.

Follow The Beast Inside is the band’s first ever full-length studio album and was recorded at Scanhope Sound with producer/engineer Joshua Fairman, who is known for his work with Analog Son, Sunsquabi, The Motet, and The New Mastersounds.

Fronted by the talented Brian Duggan (guitar/vocals), Tula is comprised of Josh Gendal (guitar), Jon Ham (bass), Jeremy Smith (saxophone), and Logan Firth (drums). Pulling together influences such as Umphrey’s McGee, Phish, Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Metallica, their music stays exciting, ever-changing, and oh so groovy.

Tula.

Tula.

Friday’s release show will also feature opening act KingFriday the 13th, as well as DJ Hug and Frank Asaurus. Tula will perform the entirety of the album Follow The Beast Inside from beginning to end, for a performance that will be nothing less than dazzling.

Tickets for Tula’s Follow The Beast Inside album release show are $5 and can be purchased here. The show starts at 9PM (doors 8PM) and is open to music-lovers 21+.

Listen to Tula's latest tracks:

Check out more details for the event here, and connect with Tula on Facebook and Twitter. Upon release, Follow The Beast Inside will be available on Spotify, iTunes, YouTube, and everywhere that music is sold or streamed.

-Jura

All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artist featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.

Denver's Newest Outdoor Music Venue: Details On Levitt Pavilion & Our Chat With Andy Thomas

By: Sierra Voss

Denver’s new outdoor amphitheater Levitt Pavilion opened its gates last Thursday night in Ruby Hill Park. The venue was born out of the creation of The Friends of Levitt Pavilion Denver (FLPD), which is an a 501c(3) non-profit, and their primary mission is to build community through music. Levitt Pavilion will be hosting over 50 free concerts per year, as well as select ticketed events. Last Thursday’s opening night was filled with a ribbon cutting, speeches, and for the first time: music. Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Halden Wofford & the Hi*Beams and Andy Thomas’ Dust Heart took the stage and filled the grounds with tunes. Free shows are already booked through September for Levitt’s 2017 schedule, alongside some ticketed events including 311, Josh Abbott Band, and Cody Johnson.

Levitt Pavilion’s Community Outreach Director, Andy Thomas chatted with BolderBeat recently, and gave us some amazing insight on how Levitt Pavilion came to be and what we can expect from this venue throughout the summer, and for years to come. Read on:

How does Denver’s Levitt Pavilion compare to the other Levitt venues across the country?

The Levitt Foundation helps get all the venues started, but each cities’ venue operate as a separate non-profit. We all book free music; we all book family accessible music with diverse genres. We all try to make sure there is a low socioeconomic barrier for people trying to find and connect with local arts and music. We [Denver] are different in the way that we have a new venue- some of the older Levitts are refurbished bandshells and buildings. We are really lucky in that Denver’s venue is a brand new, state-of-the-art facility. We have a lot of advantages in creating our pavilion based on knowing how people want to experience music and how bands want to play music.

How do you think Levitt Pavilion Denver compares to the other outdoor venues in Colorado like Red Rocks, Fiddlers Green, or Botanic Gardens?

Every venue has its specialty. However, we are more centrally located and a mostly free outdoor concert experience. There is a bike trail and a lot of people in the neighborhood that can walk here. We hope we help offer a experience that may be a little easier of a commute, where people don’t necessarily have to make a day out of it.   

Will the venue always be open seating?

We will bring in chairs for certain shows that may include an older audience demographic.

Do you have a ratio of how many local artists you will be booking versus national acts each year?

I don’t know about the ratio, but we do have local openers on every show, as well as a Colorado Music Series that features Colorado-based artists exclusively. So maybe a little over 50%.

How do you feel Levitt Pavilion will hold up in terms of being competitive enough to book alongside other local promoters/venues in town?

We are not trying to directly compete with anyone. If people want to do that with us, that's understandable because we are a new entity and were booking quality bands that other people would want to book. We have no interest in getting in a shooting match with anybody. We are a nonprofit at its core, and we have a very specific mission, and that's bringing community to music. That mission can’t succeed if we are distracted by what competitors are doing. We have a great relationship with a lot of independent promoters in town. We truly want to make sure we can bring the best artists we can to the venue.

Top three things that concertgoers should bring to a Levitt show?

  1. BYOB (Bring your own blanket)

  2. Open attitude (For artists you may have not heard of before)

  3. Snacks (All of the snacks. Check our website for guidelines of what you can bring onto the grounds)

We can’t wait to check out more shows at Levitt Pavilion this summer- make sure to get yourself to a set after you peep their full schedule here. Keep up with Levitt’s happenings on Facebook.

-Sierra

All photos per Joel Rekiel with BLDGBLKS Music Company. All videos and embedded tracks per the artist credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.