There was a lot of talent at The No Name last weekend.
The sounds of local Boulder music often flow out of a mysterious wooden door, if you know where to listen. And last Friday night was no exception as Pete Laffin and Moonwavve took over the dimly lit speak-easy that patrons affectionately call The No Name. Atop a stool with acoustic guitar in hand, Laffin started things off jamming a medley of covers with Augustus frontman Colin Kelly. Laffin’s taste is varied, from his performance of Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” to Neil Young’s folky “Harvest Man”. Laffin moves into each song with a chameleon-like voice, bending his range to fit each song. When I ask him about this later he says, “I want to give each song the respect it deserves.”
Laffin and Kelly then worked in some original tunes. Kelly slid into several melodies with precision-picking, proving a prowess on guitar that is undeniable. Kelly has a voice that blended well with Laffin’s too. After a string of Laffin’s songs, they moved into the LedBelly cover, “In the Pines”. It was here that their harmonic capabilities shone best. Their bluesy rendition was passionate and haunting while showcasing the depth and rawness of Laffin’s vocality. Overall, it was a fervent and engaging performance.
Following Laffin and Kelly, the audience was washed in the beautiful stylings of new trio Moonwavve. Derek Warwick was on the synthesizers and bass, lead vocalist Allison Eason was on guitar, and Greg Corcione kept things steady on drums. Corcione brings the pulse; Eason and Warwick offer the spontaneity. And that is the beauty of this arrangement. Eason haunted the first half of the set vocally, drawing in the audience by pressing into the microphone as if it were an extension of her voice. Her melodic, spacey vocals give personality and life to the beats. One of my favorites was “Song #8”, which has a mellow Tv On The Radio vibe pulsing with a great pop sensibility.
Moonwavve is a relatively new creation, and a big departure from Eason’s usual acoustic singer-songwriter style. Said Eason, “I was looking for someone to play with, and at a Ridgelings show, Derek mentioned he was looking for someone to get synthy with. A couple of weeks later we played at Derek’s and it just fit.”
Warwick describes Moonwavve’s influences with a range from Mazzy Star to Air. To me, the structure of the band feels like it’s reminiscent of M83 and Chvurches, but with its own take on the indie-synth movement. Warwick later remarked, “We really feel like we are filling a void that exists here in Boulder.” And I agree- It’s rousing to have have bands like Moonwavve in Boulder because it’s a sound that’s missing on the local scene. Said Eason, “We want to bridge the gap between club and bar music.” It’s hopeful to think that Boulder can sustain this kind of band on the scene.
As Moonwave pulsed on, the night culminated with spirited drunken conversation, the spark of cigarettes, and the feeling that both the Boulder music scene and this group have more to offer than just four chords. Although the venue is one of Boulder’s best-kept secrets, these bands shouldn’t be.
So what made you two click together musically?
Eason: What we did was honestly getting together on guitar and keys and let the music evolve into something more organic and electronic.
Derek, what drew you to Allison?
Warwick: I was drawn to her voice at first, really. I always wanted to make this kind of music. I want to be a Scotty Pippin to a Michael Jordan. I’ve been the frontman in all my other projects. Mostly because people tell me to do [that]. But all I want to do is the thing that makes it work. Allison is an amazing frontwoman.
Eason: [And] what drew me to Derek is that he allows for the music to breathe. What Derek provided was a change. As someone coming from the singer song-writer world, lyrics had to shine and they are still important, but I like that this music lets the beat take over and melody take over.
And what about adding Corcione to the mix?
Eason: [He] added a grounded feeling. Our music can get you lost on the moon at times. He gives the people something to dance to as well.
How do see yourself and your band shaped by the Boulder music scene?
Warwick: I think that we are filling a void. Not too big of a void, but not many crave electronic music.
Eason: We want to bridge the gap between bar music and club music.
How is the atmosphere playing in Boulder?
Warwick: It’s been great so far with the shows we’ve played.
Eason: That transfer from the band to the audience back and forth is what we love. It’s why people play music, right?
Check out upcoming Moonwave shows here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.