Whiskey flowed in more ways than one this weekend at Whiskey Autumn's Call You Mine EP Release Show.
Picture this: A stage dripping in deep blue and sea-green lighting, three talented acts pulling you closer to their sets with every melody like a gentle tide, and an ever-building swell of sound that eventually erupts into a full-on wave of a dance party. That’s how I spent my Saturday night last weekend at the Whiskey Autumn album release show at the Riverside in Boulder, CO. And if you weren’t there Boulder, you should have been.
Let’s start with the venue: The bands performed at the Riverside in a room that held over 200 people for a good part of the night, making it the mid-size venue that Boulder desperately needs for bands who have a following greater than the Pearl Street bars can hold, and who are just a step away from headlining the 625-person capacity that the historic Fox Theatre provides. Patrons drank the bar dry (insert irony of lack of whiskey at a Whiskey Autumn gig), and the interior added to the sea-vibes of the show, with colorful light splashes dangling from what looked like strands of choral on the ceiling’s stringy centerpiece. The Riverside proved a surprisingly prodigious spot for Boulder bands, and I hope more will take note and start forming its space into the weekend spot it ought to be.
And now for the music: First on the bill was FoxFeather, a Boulder-based folky, alt-country five-piece fronted by two lady vocalists. Together, Laura Paige Stratton and Carly Ricks Smith filled our ears with sultry lulls, twangy verses, and bouncy harmonies that set the energy for what would ultimately turn into a rockin’ evening. One of the biggest treats of their performance had to be Patrick Coleman’s phat, wavy slaps on his stand-up bass (because do those ever lose their cool factor?). He brought in a jazzy undertone that rightfully demanded its own attention. FoxFeather released an EP last fall, Foul Moon, which is definitely worth checking out. You can see their list of upcoming live shows here.
Augustus took the stage next and splashed us with an awesome foot-stomping, banjo-bumping performance. These dudes brought some serious originality to the popular Americana movement, from their catchy kick North to the dark, plucky perfection of Shadows and Tails. But above all, my personal favorite was Spoke of This Before, where frontman Colin Kelly commanded an emotional hum of heavy, raw vocals. It’s woeful reflectiveness created an energized hush. And when the banjo, guitar, and cello joined hands in the latter part of the song, the persuasive power of this trio was evident in the bluesy, gritty vibe that gripped our shoulders. Jim Hurlihy showcased his skills on a variety of instruments (sometimes multiple at a time) and Jesse Wright moved with his cello as though they were one, fluid being. Peep their show schedule here.
Headliner Whiskey Autumn opened with their track June, charming the at-capacity showroom with pop harmonies dripping in buzzy guitar riffs and prancy piano parts. Following June, WA proceeded to play their full four-song Call You Mine EP which you can stream here. Hips were jiving when bassist David Landry summoned a deep, dirty funk opening for A Fool’s Errand and frontman Greg Laut kept us spinning with his hypnotic guitar solo in Turn the Key (Let it Roll) (personal favorite on the EP). These guys can make you move. The trio floated on with several unreleased songs and catchy number Call Me Out written by guest guitarist Robbie Steifel. I wish I could link you to some of these jams, but in this case you had to be there (here’s my shameless beg for a recording of Gold Rush and Grin WA dudes). Halfway through the set, the boys wrapped us in an unexpected undercurrent of energy when drummer Matty Schelling’s Octapad erupted unapologetic and deep hip-hop beats for the band’s original 07.04.07 and for the crowd-pleasing cover of Frank Ocean's Thinking About You. Greg Laut’s smooth and varying vocal range then somersaulted us into some familiar melodies from the band’s first EP Into Something New where everyone sang along to the fan-favorite Born Again.
In what made for a wildly enjoyable and ever-changing collaborative effort, the boys had a number of special guests throughout the course of their set: Robbie Stiefel on guitar, Crucible Recording Studio owner Andy McEwen on piano, Colin Kelly of Augustus on guitar, Andrew McNew on trumpet, and Ryan O’Malley of HelicopterBearShark on saxophone. These additions allowed the three-piece to build strong sonorific swells and also showcased the true beauty of the Boulder music scene: creative artists blending talents for the love of original sound in more than just their living rooms. The trio’s closing Jackson Five cover of I Want You Back burst into a full-on boogie, followed by their encore performance of the you-have-to-sing-along Ronnettes Be My Baby. With their dreamy harmonies, inventive lyricism, and alluring instrumentalism, I’d sail on whiskey waves with these guys any night. Get yourself to one of these Whiskey Autumn shows.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.