Last Saturday, Westword Music Showcase returned to Denver’s Golden Triangle for its 23rd year of festing. From local bands to the evening’s headliners, the entire day brought together the Denver community for great performances and enough Coors Light to quench the thirst of musicians and audience members alike.
The festival took place both on the designated event grounds where attendees flocked to the Coors Light & Mike’s Hard stages, and in surrounding bars and venues, where a majority of the local bands played. Headliners this year included Shakey Graves, The Revivalists, and Cut Copy. The main festival area hosted lounge seating by VIE Vaporizers, booze tents sponsored by Coors, Mike’s Hard, Milagro Tequila, and Reyka Vodka, and even a Mary Jane-friendly bus advertising Denver pot-stop tours.
We started the day bouncing between some of the festival’s venue spots after catching Denver darlings Edison on the main stage. The usual trio played as a four-piece for the day, and put on a great set with Sarah Slaton’s strong storytelling and plenty of good Americana vibes. We caught Bison Bone getting everyone grooving over at #VYBE, and later caught Kissing Party there handing out tambourines to the crowd and getting everyone to tap along to their catchy pop tunes.
Television Generation rocked out over at Stoney’s Main, with quite a crowd for an earlier-in-the-day set. They’re definitely an indie rock band to catch live and keep your eye (and ears) on. The Lollygags were playing simultaneously at Stoney’s South, where their classic rock sounds had the audience dancing.
YaSi, who played with both a DJ and drummer behind her over at City Hall Amphitheatre, was one of our favorite sets of the day. She commanded attention with her strong vocals, and kept it by getting fans to groove right along with her. Big J. Beats later took the stage, looping guitars in with his beats after announcing, “This is actually the first time I’m doing all of this live.” Well done Big J.
We rolled back to the main festival area during COIN, who brought an indie-pop flare to what was a pretty perfect 70-degree summer day. Shortly after, we jumped over to Bob Moses at Mike’s Hard Stage. The New York electronica duo actually played as a trio with a drummer for this show. They were fresh off their Electric Forest performance, and kept a crowd who was clearly there for them jumping around.
The Revivalists, a New Orleans bred rock’n’roll seven-piece, packed the Coors Light stage next, and did just as their name implies, reviving and revamping the entire spirit of the day with what was an incredibly high-energy set. There wasn’t a soul in sight who wasn’t singing along with them on their recent radio hit “Wish I Knew You.” Frontman David Shaw jumped between the stage and the crowd throughout the band’s show, engaging everyone around him in the group’s stellar performance.
Australia’s Cut Copy were next, and played their psych electric tunes just as the sun set, cruising festival-goers into the early evening over tasty electro vibes.
Which brings us to the last set of what was ultimately a great day of shows: Shakey Graves. Though originally from Austin, TX, Shakey Graves has spent a fair part of his life in Colorado, even remarking during his performance how the band’s recent hit “Dearly Departed” (which features Esmé Patterson) was actually written in Boulder, CO prior to a Fox Theatre performance. He delivered a boot-stomping Americana set to close out the night for what was by far the largest crowd of the day, and his smiling and dancing soon caught on with the crowd, who were swaying and forming dance circles as he played.
What magic will next year’s Westword Music Showcase hold? It’s safe to say we already can’t wait to find out after their successful 2017 festival. Check out our full photo gallery of the event here.
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.