There were many things that stood out to me as I walked through the University of Colorado’s Memorial Building and into the “Connection,” a social spot for students that leads into an almost secret entrance to the quaint, yet nostalgically grungy venue known as Club 156. The building itself, for one, is a beautiful dedication to Colorado's servicemen and an almost overwhelming structure that is home to several campus-affiliated organizations. I saw students come and go, chatting amongst their peers about their daily lives, and I could feel the energy as I found my way through the crowd and into the dimly lit club. To my left was a small stage with lights from top to bottom covered in equipment. And on my right, there was a small open control room for lights and sound. I got the vibe that this place puts on shows that are both intimate and really cool, and I was relieved they’re not just for students.
Barking at Dogs, a funk/soul group out of Denver, were up first and I walked in mid-mic check. Crew members scrambled to get everything in order, and the show started with a deep bass line from the five-piece outfit. This group is confident, to say the least, in their sound. With funky bass lines accompanied by sweet lead riffs and a saxophone, frontwoman Lauren Duff uses a wide vocal range, and an almost raspy tone to really bring the band’s sound together. Playing all originals with a variety of funk, soul, and a touch of swing, Barking at Dogs create groovy beats that promise to keep you moving. The crowd responded well to their set, with one listener commenting on the saxophone being an interesting choice of instrument for the group while another talked about how easy their music is to dance to. And by looking at the rest of the audience, it was safe to say she was right.
Sun Time Hannah was next, with their own unique blend of funk and soul. Using their extreme motivation and high energy to intoxicate the crowd, frontman Josh Ewers eventually parted ways with his t-shirt in an excited frenzy around three and a half songs into the band’s set. Sun Time Hannah played a lot of their own music, and even throw in a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover. These guys are definitely an up-and-coming force to be reckoned with in the funk community.
Finally, Public Safety took the stage. The funk rock headliners of the bill are also based out of Denver, and when I asked how fans would describe their sound, one listener whispered, “Funk rock with a little soul.” Yes. Drummer Tim Kane described the project similarly, but “with a few more elements that can't really be described.” The group had an extremely well-performed set list of originals and threw a little Kid Cudi cover into the mix toward the end. Overall, PS gave us a variety of smooth, almost jazz-like interludes with the familiar funk and soul rock they’re known for.
At the end of the night, the outcome was one happy crowd. What had started out with bit of swaying and the occasional chant had turned into something more: a bond between listeners shouting and singing with each other while feeding off of the immense energy coming from such a tight show. This bill proved that it doesn't take a million people to bring the house down, nor does it take a big venue with bands you've heard a million times. It just a few loud and ambitious talented acts in a great space with great vibes. And that’s Club 156.
Get tickets to a Club 156 show here.
All photos, videos, and embedded tracks per the artists featured and those credited. This feature was edited for brevity and clarity by BolderBeat.